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As Christians, are we under the law, or are we under grace? If we are under the law, we are obligated to obey the whole law to achieve righteousness (see Galatians 5:3-4). If we are under grace, we have no obligation to obey the law (to achieve righteousness).
The whole purpose of Christ’s sacrifice was to move us out from under the requirements of the law and into grace. But without obligation, some people might take advantage of this. Does this make grace cheap?
God is Graceful (not dumb)
If someone thinks they can outsmart God, then they are already deceived and hopeless. Salvation isn’t a tradeable commodity. If you find a free movie pass, you can use it to get into a movie theater even if the pass wasn’t intended for you. But a “salvation pass” doesn’t work that way.
God issues a salvation pass to a specific person. The pass is bound to that person’s heart by faith. No one else can use it. You might be able to sneak into a movie theatre, but not heaven.
If a person tells God he believes in Him so he can acquire a pass, and his heart isn’t in it, he is only deceiving himself. His heart isn’t in it, so it won’t work. He isn’t a new creation. He doesn’t have a new heart. No one can trick God into giving out a salvation pass.
Grace is Deep (not superficial)
I used the following image in my book, Confident Identity, to show the contrast between someone who only changes on the outside (conforming) versus someone who is changing from the inside (transforming).
God is about internal change, not shortcuts or appearances. For those of us who have put our faith in Jesus Christ, we have a new heart. We are under grace. We don’t need to meet the demands of the law because Jesus already did that for us (Romans 8:1-4).
Amazingly, God made the offer of grace while we were still enemies of God.
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the deathRomans 5:10 ESV
of hisSon, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
If we received grace as enemies, certainly we will continue to receive it after we have been reconciled and are now friends with God. With such extravagant love, how can we not be secure in our salvation?
Grace and Accountability are Compatible (not conflicting)
Can a Christian take advantage of God’s extravagant grace? A genuine Christian can’t. In the short-term day-to-day perspective, we depend upon God to forgive our sinful choices. We must have His unmerited favor. In the long-term perspective, we have a new heart and we won’t keep on willfully and carelessly sinning (1 John 3:6). This is because you have been set free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).
Paul makes this clear in Romans 6:
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!Romans 6:14-15 ESV
Therefore, you can both:
- Be saved and possess God’s full grace and righteousness, including eternal life (Romans 5:21), and,
- Be accountable to grow spiritually and make the choice to stop sinning (see all of Romans 6 for the complete context).
In fact, the only way you can conquer sin is to be genuinely saved and
I hope your attitude is of the new code (grace). You do wrong. You feel bad for your behavior. You cry out to God as your Father. He works with you, His child, to correct the problem. There’s always a way forward in this scenario. There’s always
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”Romans 8:14-15 ESV
The grace you have removes the need for fear. It didn’t cost you, but it did cost Jesus. That cost allows you to have a pass with your name on it. The pass is yours to keep forever.
This post is part of a series on eternal security. You can read the introductory post: eternal security means full assurance of salvation.
IImage by Lu Lettering from Pixabay
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.