One of the issues with a faith that is based on grace rather than laws is that you can make a case for doing just about anything you want. The phrase that you will hear is “I’m under grace, not law.” I fully believe that we are under grace, not under law, but there are some things that other people that also claim the name of Christ do that set my teeth on edge. I’m not listing them here. At the same time, there are things that I do, even though I claim the name of Jesus Christ that would set those followers’ teeth on edge. Let’s face it: if we are fully into grace mode, you could make the mistake that anything goes in our lives. What is the check on our behavior?
Paul was dealing with the Corinthian Church. It’s interesting that many Christians use the Corinthian Church as a model. In my opinion, the Corinthian Church is one of the reasons we should stop idolizing the early church. This church had problems galore. When you see what was happening, based on the letters of Paul, and you look at their rationale, you can realize that these folks were more of an example of how not to live the Christian life than how to live life in Christ. Paul dealt with a rationale that seems logical: because of grace, we don’t have limits under God. “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)
The problem with the Corinthian Church was that their focus was on “me.” “I have this right….” “I can do anything…” Perhaps we could call them the first American Church. We have so many rights as Americans that it seems like we think that applies to our lives as Christians. I have rights as a Christian and in my church. I am not under the law. God forgives me and gives me grace no matter what. What is missing in all of those statements that have large elements of truth in them is that our faith is not “me” or “I” based; our faith is based in Jesus Christ who gave His life for others. Our thought process then should never be, “what can I do for myself?” or “what can I get away with?” but “how can I show others the love of Christ in the best possible way?” Let’s be honest: I could murder someone and still be forgiven by God. I would still have His grace. But, if I am living in His grace all the time, would I go ahead and commit that murder? Would it really be a good witness to kill someone and then tell another person that “God is amazing because He would still forgive my sin and He can forgive yours?” Most of us immediately recoil at the idea of that mindset. Yet, is it any worse than deliberately engaging in any kind of sinful behavior and telling a prospective believer the same thing?
Sin, whether we claim to be under grace or under law, still grieves God. Jesus would say that it would be better to be drowned with a millstone around our necks than cause someone else to stumble in their faith. The forgiveness found in the grace of Christ doesn’t give us license to presume upon God’s forgiveness and sin to our heart’s content; the grace of God in Jesus keeps our heart from being content with sin in our lives. Our world looks at us and judges us according to standards that are not God’s. That’s to be expected since most of them have not embraced God or the grace of Christ. That means that living in the grace of God should give us the power to live in a way that draws others to Jesus Christ, not to live in a way that makes sin of any kind acceptable. Living according to the law would be easy; living according to the grace of Christ is a much more difficult responsibility.
Lord God, I am able to call You Lord because of Your grace. Let Your grace change me so that my life is pleasing to You and draws others into Your grace. Remind me to think of others.