From time to time I often find a good healthy discussion/debate going on over at my friend Dan Bowen's blog, "Life on Wings. A tribute to Ern Baxter." Dan's friend (pastor and blogger) Pete Day, writes a post here and there on the blog, yet he always comments when there seems to be a debate going on. I have found his comments to be very gracious, insightful and confident in the grace of God. I have been blessed time and time again by his words. Today, I decided to put up one of his comments that I believe is worthy of it's own post! His comment was in response to those who seem to think that if we preach grace solely without pursuing holiness we are in danger
So why does grace set us free not to sin? I would suggest several reasons:
1) One of the greatest tools of satan to promote sin is a sense of condemnation. If we sin, we fall under condemnation; condemnation leads to a defeatest attitude like "I can't help sinning", or "I'm such a failure, why bother trying any more". Or more subtly, believers want to stop sinning but guilt keeps them from pressing through into the presence of God and so they don't catch glimpses of His glory and are not transformed.
2) Another power behind sin is pride. Grace destroys pride, because grace says I can contribute nothing to my salvation, my flesh cannot make me holy. Grace says you have a righteousness that is not your own - a free gift which is failure-proof, sin-proof, disappointment-proof, and devil-proof. Grace leads us to magnify the wonder of God's amazing love, to be impressed with Him and His gift of righteousness, to base our relationship totally upon the finished work of Jesus and nothing of our performance. Knowing therefore we can contribute nothing leads to a hunger for Him, a yieldness to Him and practical holiness is a natural side-effect.
3) One of the most powerful motivations to holiness is love (Jesus said - 'If you love Me you will keep My commandments'). Grace releases love rather than terror and condemnation. God is SO SO SO good. I love Him. I don't WANT to sin. Grace release such worship and joy that there is superior pleasure now!
4) Declaring "I am the righteousness of God in Christ" is not positive confession but a declaration of truth. It is faith building. So if I sin, I stand in faith on what Jesus has done in me. That has two effects - I am free from every condemning accusation; and, secondly, I am starting to believe I am righteous, so I start, naturally, living out that righteousness as well. We are NOT justified by grace and sanctified by our efforts. We are justified by grace through faith AND we are sanctified by grace through faith.
5) The teaching of grace does not lead to an attitude of winking at sin. God did not wink at sin, He dealt with it on the cross 100%. There is not one ounce of punishment left, it has all been taken upon the cross. God no longer sees our sin!!! We need to stop living like there is some punishment left, but in the freedom of His resurrection power.
6) We need to move out of an old covenant mindset (if I do these things God will bless me) to a new covenant mindset, which says that every blessing flows to me because Christ has obeyed the law on my behalf. This moves us out of striving in our own fleshly effort in any area of the Christian life - not only holiness, but signs and wonders. These things come, not because we perform for God, but because of Christ's totally perfect performance on our behalf. As we stand in faith on what HE has done, I believe we will know the tangible presence of God and see the manifest power of God more and more.
7) Grace shows that holiness flows not from focussing on my sins, but focussing on Jesus.
In conclusion, I wholeheartedly agree with your comment:
"I am jealous for myself and all my brethren to enter into the fullness in this vital hour."
Amen! But I also need to say - there is no question of tolerating carnality and saying "we are living in grace". No, we have tolerated carnality for too long through trying to overcome it through different disciplines and man-made laws. It is time to walk in the freedom of grace, and to prove the truth of Gal 5v16 "Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh."