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I do not set aside the grace of God...

Galatians 2:21

oug (Parepidemos) and I (Chalkbrd) were discussing the effect of sin and why sin IS sin and he introduced me to the idea that sin is sin not because of God but because of ourselves. The rules that God gave us are in reality not rules to protect God from our sin, but to protect us from ourselves and each other. My basic understanding of sin had always been that it was something that we were not supposed to do because it would hurt God in some silly of me, right? That’s a bit simplistic summary of my concept of sin, but in the right vein. And I still see sin as something that hurts God, but for an entirely different reason than I had once thought.

used to think that sin was a personal affront against God Himself, that when I sinned it was something that He didn’t want me to do just because He said so. But I see now that I was missing the whole point of the Law. The Law was given to us so that we would treat each other in a way that God knew we wouldn’t do without some guidelines. He knew that if He didn’t give us rules about what was right and wrong, we would hurt ourselves and each other in so many ways. After all, how could I ever hurt God? Nothing I can do can touch Him...except in His heart. So sin cannot be something that hurts God, but instead something that hurts us.

t’s like a parent and a child. A parent will instruct the child not to eat some candy. The child, desiring greatly to eat some of the tasty treat, doesn’t understand why the rule has been imposed and sees the rule as unfair and unnecessary, but the parent sees the rule as fair and necessary because the parent can see the bigger picture. So the parent has defined eating the candy as a sin, not because the child eating it will hurt the parent, but because it will hurt the child, which in turn will grieve the parent because he doesn’t want to see the child hurt.

nd this is what I believe sin really is. If we lie or steal or cheat or commit adultery, we do not hurt God directly but only because we hurt ourselves (and each other) and then His heart aches to see us hurting. Knowing this about sin, this raises the issue of what is really behind our sin. The child, when tempted by the candy, fights in his heart whether or not to trust the parent. If the child sufficiently trusts the parent and trusts that the parent has the child’s best interests at heart, the child will refuse to succumb to the temptation of eating the candy. If the child does not have sufficient trust, he will choose to eat the candy, despite the parent’s rule. Whether the child knows he is going through a lack of trust or not, I think this is the basic issue. Sometimes the child has learned that to comply to the parent’s request will eliminate the possibility of punishment, but still there is a basic, underlying trust issue here.

So to carry the analogy to its spiritual counterpart, we as God’s children must trust His decisions in making the rules. We must trust that the rules He established were not laid down willy-nilly but purposefully and with good intent. We must trust that not only did God have a purpose for them, but His intent is perfectly good. The rules are put down for our good and He has our best in mind. If we can trust this, we can trust Him. And if we trust Him, we will not disobey Him. Ah, but if we were all able to do this, there would have been no reason for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

nd this is where grace comes in. I have come across people in the Yahoo chat rooms who would have me believe that God’s grace is bounded by limitations, that we must say exactly the right words to obtain it, or that it is something we can lose if we sin. This attitude is very prevalent in the Christians I have met in there and it worries me. To believe any of the above is to have a total lack of understanding of the very idea of grace. God’s grace is so complete that it meets us where we are, in our sin and our debts and restores us to sonship when we deserve to be servants.

witnessed a Christian counselor in the rooms declare to a woman that if there was any sin whatsoever in her life, the ministry she wanted to do would be null and void. I beg to differ with this brother. If God had to wait until we were all 100% sin-free, His workers would be very sparse; indeed, non-existent. After all, the Bible says that there is none righteous except Jesus. We all sin in many ways. And God, even more than us, is fully aware of this. Although He wants us to strive for 100% sin-free, the practicality of it is that we are going to fall short of this. God’s grace, then, becomes the covering that allows this failing to be corrected in His eyes.

gain, back to a parent/child illustration. If a child does something wrong, hurts himself and thereby grieves the parent, the parent has one of two choices (with varying degrees of shading understood): either disown the child or to restore the child to sonship. A loving parent would not disown his child for something the child did wrong. Once a correction was made, the parent would restore the child to sonship. Now, did the child ever actually lose his sonship with the parent? No. The child was always a son, although he did not act as a son or act as the parent desired him.

n a similar style, when we sin, God doesn’t revoke our sonship temporarily until we repent and ask forgiveness. That would be like adopting a child and then every time the child does something wrong, taking him back to the adoption agency and turning him back over to them temporarily! Sonship is for good. We have been adopted into God’s family and that was a permanent thing. Sin, while it may strain our relationship with God, does not remove us from His family.

ometimes we are not quite ready to give a certain area of our lives over to God’s control. We offer our whole heart to God -- except for this area and this and this.... No one is 100% sold out to God. And when we encounter an area that we are not 100% sold out in, this is the area we will sin in. God knows this. But God is also aware of how we will grow into this area, into giving this area completely to Him, by growing in His grace. His grace supports us until we are able to deal with that area on our own.

ave you ever tried to glue a broken vase together? Usually you have to glue one piece at a time and then make sure that they are supported until the glue can set and the pieces become strong enough to stand on their own. Or it’s as if you have a broken bone, the cast is put there to aid the bone until it is strong enough to function on its own again. This is what God’s grace does for us. It holds our imperfections together until we are able to function as a whole in that area and to give it completely and wholly over to God.

o the impact of this on our lives is immense! When this is truly understood, it overwhelms us with gratefulness to our loving God who has given us His grace so freely and who holds together our shattered pieces, waiting patiently for them to mend in due time, and gives us His grace to cover our self-destructive sin. The more we see our sin, the more we see His grace that covers it, elegantly, surely, decisively and forever.



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