The Grace of God is defined as his unmerited favour. Grace impacts every aspect of God dealing with human beings. God being gracious means that he favourably inclines towards us, grace is God giving you what you do not deserve. God’s creation, providence, the conviction of the sinner, his gift of Salvation, his equipping of the saints, and the future he has prepared for us. All of this is due to God’s Grace.
Nevertheless, we have abused this grace through time in various ways. We abuse God’s Grace by choosing to live in a legalistic way, second by false liberty, third by accepting Salvation by grace and striving to maintain Salvation by works. We shall explore the various abuses of grace, as mentioned above in this article.
Legalistic lifestyle (Romans 7:1-25)
Legalism is the belief that men are saved by works or human effort. The Judaizers insisted that keeping the law and observing the rituals and ceremonies found in the OT covenant which God made with the Israelites was a necessary part of Salvation. Most world religions have focused on finding their way to God by focusing on a life of dos and don’ts. What motivates keeping the law? Is it the consequence of not keeping it or genuine love for the law? We are driven to follow the law by fear of the consequence of not keeping it. Unfortunately, the burden of the law is never seen on the outside.
One of the greatest struggles in Christianity is reconciling law and grace. What is the insufficiency of the law? Is there any positive thing about it? In Romans 7, Paul shares the positive side of the law and its negative side also. The positivity of the law is that it is spiritual, and it exposes what sin is (Romans 7:7, 14). On the negative, the law brought sin to life and hence brought death (Romans 7:9-10). One may wonder why Paul sees the law as bringing death rather than life. As much as the law is good, it does not empower my life against sin, and since the wages of sin is death and am not able to keep the law, then it, therefore, results to death (Romans 7:14-25).
How do we find life and victory over sin? The answer to this question is grace. The law cannot justify us before God (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:21). The law came by Moses, but grace came through Christ Jesus (John 1:17). The scripture says we are justified by the Grace of God (Galatians 2:16). We cannot be right with God through works of the law, but we are made right through grace. If we neglect the Grace of God through Christ, then for sure, there is no hope for humanity (Hebrews 9:27-28). Let us not waste this season of grace.
Saved by grace but live by the law! (Galatians 2:16)
Saved by grace and live by law is a false doctrine that teaches that we stay saved by obedience to the law. It argues that Salvation depends on our works since they supplement our faith. It further asserts; to be saved, we must keep the law to the end. It is the error that Paul combats in the letter to Galatians. He is disappointed with the Galatians’ sudden change of heart and going back to the law after being saved by God’s Grace. In chapter three, Paul rebukes Galatians sharply asking who bewitched them. He argues that the Galatians received the Spirit of God by believing in Christ and not by following the law; hence they should not go back to the law (Galatians 3:1-3). If grace saves you, then you are to live under grace and not by the law. Going back to the law is an abuse of the Grace of God. Whatever could not save cannot now sustain. The Galatians were in err by being deceived back to the law. For Christianity, the good things that we do never make us Christians but being Christians lead us to do good deeds.
False Liberty (Galatians 5:16-21)
Now that the law could not save nor sustain Salvation, how do we then live as Christians? Liberty is the call of the Christian. Scripture defines liberty, not personal imagination. False liberty states that after being saved by grace, a person’s behaviour and conduct do not matter. Careless living is not the Christian’s call. Grace does not encourage wickedness (Romans, 6:15). There is no other sacrifice to be made for those who continue sinning; Christ sacrifice was sufficient for all generations and all sins (Hebrews 10:26-29). Since the law could not empower us against sin, in Salvation, the Holy Spirit resides within the believer to enable us to meet God’s standards. Hence, the Spirit of God leads us (Romans 8:1-16). If we submit to the Holy Spirit, then we shall not gratify the desires of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:16-18). Christian liberty, therefore, does not mean we live as we wish. Having Christ in us and being led by the Holy Spirit means that we uphold all the law. Since he has enabled us to live up to God’s standard in his word (Romans 3:31) The Bible has cautioned us against living by the flesh or sinful nature and shown us the way of the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:19-26).
Christianity does not reinforce careless living. In the same breath, we are not defined by what we do but who we are. Being dictates our doing. We are children of God and hence called to imitate him in our lifestyle. Our Salvation is grounded on what Christ did and not what we do. We are to avoid a legalistic lifestyle and the attitude of false liberty. For those still on legalism, you don’t know what you are missing and the burden you lay on yourself. We encourage to possess not only head knowledge on grace but also experiential knowledge.