Making Too Little of Grace
By Lucien LeSage
Recently I came across a statement that read, “One Caution of Grace! Never make so much of Grace that you make light of Sin!”
While I understand what the person was trying to convey yet there is something wrong with this statement. Is it possible to make too much of grace? Is it making too much of grace that leads one to make too little of sin? These questions are important to a proper understanding of Grace. We live in a day that grace is no more than a judicial reconciliation. Preachers have left off teaching the whole counsel of God concerning grace. I would like to demonstrate from the scriptures that the real problem is not making "so much of grace" but making too little of Grace.
If men believe that grace is simply God making a way possible for salvation and leaving it up to men then it will lead to making too little of sin. In our day preachers have preached making a decision for Jesus and then after you make that decision you are eternally saved. Now we certainly believe in the eternal security of the believer but salvation by grace is so much more than this. Of course since you are eternally saved by your decision then sin cannot doom you, can it? This is the false thinking here. I am not suggesting that someone who is truly saved can sin away their salvation, but a person who is still in love with their sins yet does not want to spend eternity in a lake of fire may view such a doctrine as simply a fire escape and nothing more. Jude spoke of such false teachers when he said that they were “turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness” (Jude 1:4).
What is grace, we might ask? I like a quote that my pastor uses. He says, “Grace is God doing for us what we could never do for ourselves.” While that is a very true statement I wonder how many souls realize to what degree of help from God that involves. If grace was no more than a legal reconciliation, that is a canceling of debt, then why does Paul tell us, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)? Is Paul putting forth the idea that you are saved by grace and then keep yourself saved by not living the life styles here mentioned? I think not, but make no mistake, fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals (“abusers of themselves with mankind”), thieves, and those of the other lifestyles mentioned here have no part in the inheritance that is in Jesus Christ. So, Paul, if men are saved by grace and yet those that practice these things are not saved then how is it still of grace? Well Paul explains this in the next verse for he says, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Folks, if grace has not sanctified you (set you apart from the world) and given you a holy hatred for the sin that you may have cherished in the past then be not deceived into thinking you are saved. Paul is the one saying this. He is not saying this from a self-righteous point of view but presenting a stern warning in love. Is it wrong to warn souls of a horrible and impeding danger? In this modern religious era we have members of churches that live together outside of marriage and think nothing of it. After all they are saved by grace, so they think. The spiritual state of some so-called churches has degraded to the point that a homosexual lifestyle is seen as legitimate. Thus we have a push by deceived people to legitimize same-sex marriages. Dear reader if this is your position on the matter then there is no hope for you short of a work by the Spirit of God, which in reality is the only hope for any lost man. As Paul said, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Why the Need for Grace.
If grace is indeed God doing for the sinner what the sinner could never do for himself, then to what degree is grace needed? Is it merely to help us along or is it more? Well, in more than one place we are told that the lost sinner is dead in his or her sins and cannot recover themselves and are taken captive at the devil's will. Unless God would first give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth they will never be able to recover themselves. We find that this situation existed from birth because of the curse placed upon mankind from the offence of our federal head, Adam; “For if through the offence of one many be dead” (Romans 5:15).The apostle Paul tells us in his epistle to the Ephesians beginning in chapter two that before we were saved we were dead in our sins and that we walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, which is Satan. And that this prince is the spirit that worked then and works now in the children of disobedience. This is the spirit that is working in the false churches that claim homosexuality is a legitimate lifestyle. And Paul tells us that we who are saved also had our conversation in the lusts of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature the children of wrath just as others who are lost in their sins. But something happened to those who are truly saved. Paul says that they were quickened to life. He says that this quickening from the spiritual dead was a thing of grace. He further writes that this saving grace brought about a faith that was not of ourselves and that none of this was by our own ability or our own works. He further adds that we who are saved had a change of lifestyle and now produced good works, but that this was actually the workmanship of God who before ordained it. You see these works are now the fruit of life and not the dead works of a lost sinner.
The Election of Grace
Since men are born dead in their sins as the word of God has so plainly taught, and since God knows the beginning from the end, and without a work of grace no man can be saved, and man cannot raise himself up to even receive grace then God must have chosen whom he would bestow this grace upon. To such a logical conclusion the Bible affirms. “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Romans 11:5-6).
In Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians he told them that they were chosen before the foundation of the world to be a holy people and without blame before him. That it was in love that He predestinated them unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself. That this was done not because of foreseen merit but according to the good pleasure of His will and all to the praise of the glory of His grace. When Moses wanted to see God’s glory, what did the Lord tell him? “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” (Exodus 33:18-19). God told Moses that He would show him His sovereign grace.
The Reconciliation by Grace
Since men are dead in their sins and since there is an “election of grace” then does grace just stop there? As we pointed out before that grace is more than simply a judicial reconciliation, yet a judicial reconciliation was absolutely necessary and it is on the grounds of that legal reconciliation that the supply of grace in our lives stands. This reconciliation was through the sacrifice of God’s own dear Son, Jesus Christ. “… Much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many” (Romans 5:15). In Romans 5:10 the apostle Paul tells the Romans, and we who are saved, that while they were still the enemies of God that they were reconciled by the death of His Son. The Greek word translated “reconciled” is an accounting term. It means to exchange coins of equal value. When you reconcile your checking account you are making sure it balances. If you owed the bank a debt and someone without your knowledge went and paid off that debt and also foresaw any future debt and paid it all off as well the banker is not going to attempt to extract that debt from you for that would be illegal. In the same sense Jesus Christ has done this for the “election according to grace.” Based upon that judicial reconciliation Paul goes on to say in that same verse that the ones who were reconciled while yet enemies shall be saved. “Much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”
The Supply of Grace to the Sinner
Grace did not stop at judicial reconciliation. There is a need for reconciliation in the heart of the sinner as well. If men are dead in their sins then in order for any reconciliation in their hearts to take place life must be given. “Be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). There is a need to be reconciled to God and this is what we preach to sinners. It is the Gospel of reconciliation through Jesus Christ. He hath “made peace through the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20). We are saved by faith in what he did.
When Lazarus was dead in the grave he could do nothing. In John 12:17 we are told that Jesus “called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead.” When Jesus said, “Lazarus, come forth” it was an effectual call. It was a call that gave life to a dead man. It was a call that brought him forth from the grave yet while still bound in grave clothes. In like manner the dead sinner is called by grace with the same power that raised dead Lazarus from the dead. “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). That is the effectual call of God to the “election according to grace”; an effectual call to the legally reconciled. Notice Paul says that all who are “called according to his purpose” (vs. 28) are justified and glorified as in the past tense even though glorification is still future. Why is it spoken in the past tense? Because it is certain and why is it certain? Because of grace.
Colossians 1:21 "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled."
Grace to Receive More Grace
The Bible admonishes the believer to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). But it is grace that gave us faith in the first place. So we see we needed grace in the beginning and even grace to receive grace. Grace is needed through our entire walk in this flesh. We are in constant trials and battles and without God’s grace we are “without strength.” In our time of need we are dependent upon God’s grace. Yet we turn to God by grace for more grace. It is grace that empowers us to even ask for grace. The writer of Hebrews tells us “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). James says, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). Yet, grace is what made us humble in the first place.
Grace to the End
Perseverance is required of every one who shall finally be saved. It will distinguish believers from false professors. "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed" (John 8:31). The writer of Hebrews states, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10: 38-39). Here we see that drawing back is unto perdition. But the writer of Hebrews also states that the just who live by faith are not of them that draw back unto perdition but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. How is that? How can he be so sure? Because the perseverance of the believer is through grace. Paul was confident that God would perform the work that He had begun in believers until the day of Jesus Christ. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6). Notice it was a work that God had begun IN them and not simply for them. Remember Paul told us that those who were called according to His purpose are justified and glorified. He went on to say in that same chapter in his epistle to the Romans that nothing could separate the elect from the love of God that was in Christ Jesus.
Paul’s Testimony of Grace in His Life
Most of us know of Paul’s persecution of the Church before the Lord saved him. Remember how he had been persecuting the believers in Jesus Christ and had obtained letters from the high priest in Jerusalem to the Synagogues in Damascus that if found any believers in Jesus Christ, whether they be men or women, that he might bind them and bring them bound to Jerusalem to be punished. He had journeyed miles to Damascus and was in eye view of that city when the Lord stopped him and apprehended him. Paul said, “I am apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12). Paul was so willing to persecute the followers of Jesus but after being apprehended of Jesus Christ he was so willing to be His apostle and suffer for His name's sake. Why? Because of Grace! Paul said that the Lord had called him by his grace at the time it had pleased God (Galatians 1:15). It happened at the time and place God had decided and not when or where Paul decided. That’s grace! It was grace that arrested that man and gave him a new heart.
Not only was Paul saved by grace but he was made a minister of the gospel by grace. “Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:15-16). And we might add, not only was Paul made a minister by grace but he labored more abundantly for the Lord than they all yet it was by God’s grace. “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Grace Causes the Believer to Make More of Sin
The original statement quoted was “One Caution of Grace! Never make so much of Grace that you make light of Sin!” What we need to caution is not making too much of grace but a perversion of grace. Jude warned not about making too much of grace but about false teachers turning the grace of God into something it was not. The Greek word for “turning” means to translate or transpose something into something else. To change the grace of God into something not taught in the scriptures at all. In this case it was “lasciviousness” or unbridled lust. To unbridle lust is to legitimize it. Those that teach it is permissible for sexual relations outside of marriage or that what the Bible calls sodomy is a legitimate alternative lifestyle or any other sinful lifestyle are guilty of what Jude warned about. Jude was warning those who were sanctified by God the Father and preserved in Jesus Christ and called to contend for the faith, that is, that system of doctrine, and the reason was because certain ungodly men had crept in amongst believers unawares, teaching a transposed version of grace and that these men were before of old ordained to this condemnation.
What grace really does is to make the born again believer think more of sin and not to make light of sin. Paul tells us in Titus that the grace of God teaches us who are saved “that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14). Grace teaches us to think much of sin in our lives with horror and hatred for it, not make light of it.
To think more of sin by thinking less of grace leads to self-righteousness and a legalistic attitude. To think much of grace and by grace to hate sin in our lives is proclaim like Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.”
Grace is Not a License to Sin
It has been said by some that reject the doctrine of eternal security, “Well, if I believed that I would go and sin all I want to.” To which words of wisdom have replied, “I sin more than I want to. I don’t want to sin at all against my Lord.” The problem with “I would sin all I want to” is that statement is made by men who have a broken ”want to”. What it is saying is they are still in love with the pleasures of this world. Oh, they don’t necessarily want to commit every sin there is but there are some they really cherish and would love to do if they could get away with it. This unholy desire is why men turned the grace of God into unbridled lust. The person that views grace this way is still under the bondage of sin and a servant of sin and has not been set free by God’s grace. Paul says the same for he says, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Romans 6:14-18). But be not confused. This is not something done in the letter but by and in the spirit. It is having a new nature and a new master. It is having a new love and a hatred for the old man and the sin that he loved. “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3). Absolutely not! No, what the believer in Christ experiences is the fruit of regeneration. It’s God’s grace in his life. It’s the grace of God that is with him, as Paul declared.
What is the relationship of grace and the law? We know we are not justified by the law. To keep it simple and without going into a long discussion of the Old Testament economy and the ceremonial law, etc., the law is a revelation of the holiness of God, which is His greatest attribute. All of His other attributes are adorned in His holiness. Even His grace is adorned in holiness which is why He had to send a sinless substitute. Even the Gentiles who did not have the law had the law of conscience unto themselves (Romans 2:14-15). With that said the law is a mirror that we can look into and see ourselves as God sees us. You may have dirt all over your face and not know it, but look into a mirror and you will find out what you really look like. This is what the law does. It shows us that we are sinners and in desperate need of help. With some this brings about conviction because the Holy Spirit has already begun a work in them and they have a “godly sorrow” that “worketh repentance to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10), while others go away and forget what was revealed. “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass (mirror): For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:23-25). So the law cannot save us but it does reveal the holiness of God and the sinfulness of men. As Paul said, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Galatians 3:24-25).
We Need More Grace
We need grace everyday of our lives in this warfare with our flesh. Without grace we cannot receive more grace.
In closing we offer a quote from J. B. Moody:
“Do you say this is enough of grace? Not while Salvation is my theme. If grace begins the good work in us, then it is prevenient to any working out by us.
When and where does grace begin, and what does it do? To answer this, may the God of all grace give us all grace to perceive grace; and when by grace we perceive grace, may we have grace to feel our need of grace; and when by grace we feel our need of grace, may we have grace to desire grace; and when we have grace to desire grace, may we have grace to seek for grace; and when by grace we seek for grace, may we have grace to receive grace; and when by grace we receive grace, may we have grace to enjoy grace; and when by grace we enjoy grace, may we have grace to praise grace; and when by grace we praise grace, may we have grace to manifest grace; and when by grace we manifest grace, may we have grace to extend grace; and when by grace we extend grace, may we have grace to grow in grace; and when by grace we grow in grace, may we have grace to serve grace; and when by grace we serve grace, may we have grace to suffer grace; and when by grace we suffer grace, may we have grace to persevere in grace; and when by grace we persevere in grace, may we have grace to die in grace; and when we have grace to die in grace, may we have grace to hope in grace; and when we have grace to hope in grace, may we have grace to rest in grace; and when we have grace to rest in grace, may we have grace to rise in grace ; and when we have grace to rise in grace, may we have grace to be glorified by grace; and when we have grace to be glorified by grace, may we have grace to glory in grace; and we have grace to glory in grace, may we have grace to glorify grace; and when we have grace to glorify grace, may we have grace to reign in grace, and when by grace we reign in grace, may the world have grace to be ruled by grace; and when the world has grace to be ruled by grace, may all grace be ascribed to the God of grace; who by grace, and through grace, and in grace, abounds with the all-sufficiency of grace, from everlasting, and will abound forever more.”
Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726