I’ve noticed a tendency in believers, myself included, to misunderstand God’s grace. This is to our own detriment. As a result, grace seems to have become a polarizing topic in recent years. On one side, people say you can’t give too much grace or people will live a life of sin. They say grace must be balanced with the law. This sounds right to our logical minds, but it is far from biblical truth. In fact, the Bible clearly says you can not mix law and grace!1
On the other hand, some people make the mistake of going to the other extreme, which is Hyper-Grace. Hyper-Grace says that because of grace, you are free to live however you want. They say that all is forgiven in Christ and you are not under the law. Therefore, you don’t need to confess or repent of sin. This stance is also in contradiction to biblical teaching. The Bible does say that those who are under grace are no longer under the law.2 But drawing the conclusion that one can live how they desire and need not repent, is not in line with biblical standards of holiness.3
Grace always calls us to a higher standard of living than the law, not lower.
Both of these stances only serve to bolster their opponents in their stance. Sadly, this has caused many Christians to get uneasy when the topic of grace comes up. The problem lies in misunderstanding the true nature of grace.
Grace Is At The Foundation Of New Covenant Theology
The very essence of the covenant Christians live under today is that God, in His grace, has done for us what we could never do for ourselves! Many think this only involves our salvation. But grace and the promises of God are for so much more than saving us. In fact, it is grace that saves us and it is grace that also sanctifies and sustains us.
We see the foundation of the new covenant laid in Genesis 15. It was here that God made it clear to Abraham that the promises God was making to Him would depend upon God alone to fulfill them. Abraham’s only part was to believe by faith. After centuries of waiting, these promises were fulfilled in Jesus Christ and the new covenant came into effect.4
Understanding the grace offered to us in the new covenant helps us answer questions such as:
- Do we need to balance grace with the law?
- Is grace for saving us, but the law for living?
- Does grace mean I can do whatever I want because I’m forgiven anyway?
- Does grace mean God loves me the way I am and therefore I can stay this way?
When we understand the difference between the old and new covenants, it lays the groundwork for us to understand God’s grace.
The power of God’s grace is demonstrated throughout the new covenant in many ways. However, there are two primary functions we need to understand if we are going to benefit from the grace God is offering us.
Two Primary Functions Of Grace In The Believer’s Life
The Apostle Paul reveals two of the primary functions of God’s grace in the life of the believer. He says:
“11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,” – Titus 2:11-12 (ESV)
First, we see that Grace brings salvation. This is obvious to most believers as it has been taught and preached extensively within the church.
Second, we see in this passage is that Grace brings sanctification. Notice what verse 12 says… “training us to renounce ungodliness… and to Live… godly lives…” (Emphasis mine). God, in His Grace, teaches us by His Holy Spirit and His word, to renounce sin and live godly lives. This is the second primary function of God’s grace in your life, leading you out of sin and into holiness.
Why Every Believer Needs More Of God’s Grace
The idea that too much grace will lead you to sin or that because of grace you are allowed to sin are both false! God never gives us something that will lead us into sin or justify the sin we commit. He has given us His Holy Spirit by Grace, and the Holy Spirit will always lead us towards Holiness!
When we understand what God’s grace really is in the new covenant… God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves in both our salvation and sanctification, then we will safely conclude we need all the grace we can get!
We don’t need to limit God’s grace, we need more of it because in our own strength we can do nothing, but in Him, we can do all things. By His Grace He saved us and by His grace, He will complete the work He began in us! That is good news indeed.
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- 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. – Galatians 3:10-14 (ESV) ↩
- 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. – Romans 6:14 (ESV) ↩
- 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. – Jude 4 (ESV) ↩
- 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. – Galatians 3:16 (ESV) ↩