July 17, 2023
Sermon delivered in Greenville, South Carolina
July 2, 2023
A misunderstanding of the harmony between law and grace produces error either to one extreme or to the other. In one case, the Bible calls us to moral responsibility; on the other hand, it warns us not to boast of works with which we cannot justify ourselves before God. What is the correlation between them?
Paul wrote: “But the law entered, so that sin might increase, but where sin increased, grace abounded much more,” (Romans 5:20). Remember that sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair? Turning to a Pharisee named Simon, in whose house this happened, Jesus said: “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:47). A logical question arises: “Should I sin much more so that grace may abound in me more and so that I may love much? Is a person who lives a holy life not pleasing to God?” The answer lies in what effect grace produces in a person’s heart, if he really accepts it and values it more than anything else. A deep conviction of sin, genuine repentance with a contrite heart, shows a person how helpless he is before the Holy Law of God. Such person desperately needs to receive the unmerited gift of salvation as a lifeline in the midst of a furiously raging ocean with giant waves, symbolizing the wrath of the Just God. Having thoroughly realized guilt (“… through the law comes the knowledge of sin” Rom. 3:20) and having experienced a feeling of complete hopelessness and despair, a person treats grace reverently, it becomes something immeasurably precious for him, and a feeling of gratitude produces a change in his whole being, bringing him into unity with Christ.
When I was driving at 20 miles over the speed limit on the freeway, it didn’t bother me much because everyone does it. But as soon as the representative of the law turned on the flashing lights and decided to pull me over, my heartbeat began to race, the speedometer became my conscience, and the rest of the drivers no longer bothered me, because I was responsible for my own transgression. Before the law, I found myself guilty and thus “the sin increased”, and “sin through the commandment became exceedingly sinful”, “for apart from the law sin is dead” (Rom. 5:20; 7:13; 7:8). And through the awareness of sin and punishment in the form of a fine, I realized that I was helpless to change anything. I needed forgiveness and work of grace. “…and “where sin increased, grace abounded much more” (Rom. 5:20). However, I will not trample grace under my feet, “for if we willfully continue to sin after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation, which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who despised Moses’ law died without mercy in the presence of two or three witnesses. How much more severe a punishment do you suppose he deserves, who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded the blood of the covenant that sanctified him to be a common thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:26-29).
That is why Paul says, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14). And grace teaches us something. Paul writes the following about this: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.” (Titus 2:11-15).
Let us value the precious gift of grace, and not trample it under our feet. Are we experiencing grace in our lives?
And Peter wishes us that “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,” (2 Peter 1:2).
Max Volkov in Christ