This is an addendum to my last post, because of an e-mail I received. I appreciate constructive criticism and have benefited greatly from e-mails in the past, that have said, “Hey, Jessica, you might have gone about this the wrong way.” Then there are times, such as this one, when a person gravely misinterprets what I was trying to say. But since one person did, many others could, so I want to make sure my point from the original post was very clear and not lost, because losing this could be a big deal.
Here’s the e-mail and I will respond.
“…I would like to point out that there are some theological inconsistencies in your lastest blog post, 50 ways of pointing fingers, in the following paragraph: “It’s all on you, and that’s OK. Your responsibility makes you a candidate for Grace. Taking “ownership” of our sins gives us ‘right’ (for lack of a better analogy) to the grace of Christ and the freedom He offers us. If we have no part in sin, what part can we have of grace? If we have no part in sin, what need do we have for a Savior? If we have no part in getting ourselves here, what hope do we have of freedom?”That, my friend, is broken thinking, and I would like to challenge that thinking. Grace does not give us license to sin. Sin still carries heavy consequences. Sin is not a prerequisite for grace. We do not have a “right” to grace. Grace is a gift of God freely given. God owes us nothing, absolutely NOTHING. But He gives us everything. He gives us our being, He gives us freedom, and He gives us forgiveness if we ask when we misuse that freedom. He doesn’t owe it to us. We don’t have a right to it. God gives us grace because He loves us, and we need it. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So yes we’re all sinners. But sin does not make us candidates of grace. God gives us grace because He loves us. We don’t have to be wrong to be loved by God. That’s the beauty of it. We are loved unconditionally. We don’t have to sin to receive grace. Because if that’s the case, it’s an excuse to continue living in sin and sin more in order to receive grace. But Romans 6 tells us not to do this. We are great sinners, especially me, but we need a Savior none the less, because of our concupiscence and human nature. We depend on God for our life and the very breath we are taking right now…”
I was not saying that you have to sin in order to obtain grace.
LET’S BREAK DOWN THE ORIGINAL PARAGRAPH, WHICH WASN’T A VICTIM OF BROKEN THINKING AS MUCH AS IT WAS OF A POOR CHOICE OF WORDS.
To start off, I want to acknowledge that there are different religious backgrounds represented here. This ministry has strong ties in the Catholic church as well as the LDS community, even though I myself am Protestant, raised a Baptist. Grace isn’t so different between those groups, but the teachings on original sin, sinful nature and receiving (and, in some instances, maintaining) of that grace do. I can only teach what I believe to be true as supported by Scripture and I can only share my experience. To the paragraph:
“It’s all on you, and that’s OK.”
Our sin is our choice. That was the whole crux of that post. We choose to sin. We choose, therefore our sin is our problem, not someone else’s problem. This is also not saying that we are responsible to rescue ourselves. That is not true either. We are responsible for our choices.
“Your responsibility makes you a candidate for Grace.”
The fact of the matter is, Christ came not for the righteous, but for the unrighteous (Mark 2:17, Matthew 9:11-13). On earth, he was a friend of sinners. We need grace because we are, in fact, sinners. Fact: Without sin itself, there is no need for a Saviour (Matthew 1:21, Romans 3:25, 1 Corinthians 15:12). The fact that I am a sinner, means that I need a Saviour; it means that I am in desperate need grace. Therefore I am a candidate for grace, insomuch as grace was meant to be received by sinners.
I did not ‘earn’ grace because of my sin. Grace, itself, is a gift. Grace was given in spite of my sin (Romans 5:8). We are all born with sinful natures and wicked no good hearts that want nothing to do with God (Fact, fact, and fact– Romans 5:12, Romans 3:9-12, Jeremiah 17:9). We cannot be afraid that our sinfulness removes us from God’s grace, but many are afraid that God’s grace can’t reach them because of what they’ve done or what has been done to them. The fact is our sinfulness is why we need His grace, the fact is our sinfulness is the reason He offers His grace. I am a sinner, therefore His grace was meant for me- it was intended for me. Gift or not, it has no effect on me if I am unwilling to acknowledge my need for it.
“Taking “ownership” of our sins gives us ‘right’ (for lack of a better analogy) to the grace of Christ and the freedom He offers us.”
I did not say ‘sinning’ gives us a right to grace. I said, ‘owning’ that sin. And I understand that ‘right’ is a horrible analogy (hence this) because we as a society look at ‘right’ as something we earn or are entitled to, whereas in my personal circles, I use ‘right’ differently. Perhaps ‘access’ or ‘share’ would be the better word for this illustration. As children of God, we all have access to His grace, all of us, but we cannot be children of His if we deny our need for Him. It’s a reiteration of the previous point that our sinfulness is the reason for His grace, not a reason to run from it, and that it is crucial we acknowledge our own need for Him.
“If we have no part in sin, what part can we have of grace? If we have no part in sin, what need do we have for a Savior? If we have no part in getting ourselves here, what hope do we have of freedom?”
These, again, reiterate that same point. Forgive me for using “if” so loosely, but it was meant to illustrate a hypothetical thought process. It is not saying ‘if we don’t sin then we don’t need Jesus.’ The emphasis is again on the responsibility. Maybe it would be better read with a “we think” after every if. “If we think we have no part in sin, then what part can we have in grace? If we think we have no part in sin, what need do we have for a Saviour? If we think we have no part in getting ourselves here, what hope do we have of freedom?”
WE CANNOT LIVE A LIFE KNOWING THE LOVE, FORGIVENESS, AND FREEDOM OF CHRIST IF WE FEEL OUR LOVE, FORGIVENESS AND FREEDOM HINGES ON SOMEONE ELSE.
Do we sin more so that we can have more grace? Of course not! That’s what Romans 6 is talking about. Someone else said the same thing to Paul, “Great! So I’ll just keep on sinning so God can give me more grace.” That is not the point, and Paul goes on to point out the flawed thinking in that logic. Why would we, who were once slaves to sin, willingly choose to go back (we do it, but why? Does it make sense?) to something that no longer controls us. It reminds me of a post I wrote a while back about willingly choosing to go back to porn after being freed from it.
The problem is we like to blame others. When we do that, when we shirk our responsibility and essentially look at God and say, “Don’t look at me, it wasn’t my fault” we rob ourselves of the blessings of His grace. If I spend my life waiting for someone else to change and insisting that all of my problems are their fault, God can’t heal me, because I am not letting Him.