Some are afraid that the message of grace is an excuse for sinning. However, the Bible shows many examples on how the message of grace is the road to a life of freedom and joy. Follow along and we will soon see that this message has a very happy ending!
The Gospels show how Jesus focused on the message of grace even before the price was paid on the cross. He couldn’t wait to reveal what was to come in the New Covenant. Then and there He preached the Lord’s Covenant of Grace.
Jesus knew that the New Covenant would be based upon His blood and the redemption on the cross, so He could just as well give them a preview because He was the Lamb of God carrying all the sins of the world.
The Lord’s Word about the New Covenant is: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Heb. 8:12).
“Their sins and lawless acts I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17).
This reminds me of a children’s song from my childhood church: “He has thrown all my sins behind His back. He will never see them again; He will never see them again! Like the east is from the west are they far from me, He will never see them again….”
This is a powerful Gospel that sets the captives free – forever!
Let us study some eye-opening situations in the ministry of Jesus – the first one in Luke 7:36-50.
She lived a sinful life…
Jesus gives us some really great sermons about this and the message must be thought-provoking for those claiming that the teaching of grace gives the freedom to live in sin. Jesus Himself showed how wrong such a thought is. It is, in fact, just the opposite!
Luke 7:36-50 gives us an impressive story about a woman who came to the house of a Pharisee. She lived a sinful life. The Pharisee, who had invited Jesus, was shocked that Jesus let her wash His feet with her tears, dry them with her hair and anoint them with fine perfume.
Simon (the Pharisee), having reasoned for himself, concluded that if this Jesus was a prophet, He would have known what sort of woman this was who touched Him. But Jesus takes this by the root and Simon truly sees that He is a prophet – Jesus had read Simon’s thoughts!
The fact is that this woman understood this grace, while the Pharisee still lived in the cold and narrow corridor of his religion’s rituals and acts. That is why Jesus used the opportunity to preach the Gospel for him. Why did Jesus accept being adored by this sinful woman? Simply because she had received His grace and had understood how fully she was forgiven. That is why she worshiped Jesus with her tears and her expensive perfume!
The story Jesus tells to Simon in order to illustrate His message is that two men were in debt to a money-lender. One owed five hundred denarii, the other fifty. But the good news was that when “neither of them had the money to pay him back, he cancelled the debts of both.” Let us first mediate on this for a while, for this is a wonderful Gospel!
Since they didn’t have the money to pay him back, he cancelled the debts of both This is the simple message of the Gospel! “Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both” (Luke 7:42).
This is the story of every man. The entire world stood guilty before God; no one could be saved by way of their own works. Big and small sinners were fully dependent upon grace!
Hear what Paul says: “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justified the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him” (Rom. 4:4-8).
God could cancel the debt of us all because Jesus has paid it! On the cross Jesus paid the price for all the sins of the world.
The powerful effect of the cross is that “now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by sacrifices of himself” (Heb. 9:26). “Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Heb. 10:14).
This is so powerful that it takes time to let it sink in.
Many sermons – same message
Jesus preaches many sermons on this!
In John 8:8-12, the Bible tells how Jesus forgives another sinful woman – one who the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees brought to Jesus. They said: “This woman was caught in the act of adultery.”
The Law was clear: it “commanded us to stone such women.” But they knew that Jesus would show mercy, so they tried to trap Him. Can you see that the accusations from the teachers of the Law against Jesus strongly remind us of the accusations by some Bible teachers today against the teaching of grace? This ought to be a wake-up call for you!
Since the story from John 8 is so well known, we can go straight to the essence of this message – the message of Jesus is: “Neither do I condemn you!”
Here lies the power and the heart of the entire Gospel!
The ministry of condemnation
Condemnation is a product of the Law. Because we are not perfect, the demands of the Law will bring condemnation. That is why “the ministry of the letter” is called “the ministry of condemnation.” “The ministry which was engraved in letters on stone was the ministry of death” (2 Cor. 3:6-9).
This was the Ten Commandments!
The only part of the Law that was engraved on stone was the Ten Commandments. This is important to see considering that some Bible teachers say that being freed from the Law is only that we are freed from the law of ceremonies. But 2 Cor. 3:6-9 states it very clearly that the Ten Commandments are the ministry of death and the ministry of the letter. Thus, this paragraph’s entire point is that we do not have the ministry of condemnation, since we are ministers of a New Covenant!
The ministry of righteousness
The New Covenant is “the ministry of righteousness” – the righteousness of Christ Jesus. The Gospel is what reveals the righteousness by faith, that He “justifies the man who has faith in Jesus” (Rom 3:26).
This is what Jesus gives us a taste of by declaring: “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11). When the woman became free from all condemnation, she became free from the life she lived at the same time!
It is this truth that sets us free! The one who sins is the slave of sin. If the Son sets you free, then you are truly free! (John 8:32-36). That is why freedom begins by realizing that all condemnation is now brought to an end by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. “Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1).
The lost son
Luke 15 is an excellent chapter in this line of thought. Jesus preaches a sermon with three parables about all the joy in heaven every time a sinner repents.
The story of the lost son conveys the message clearly: The father has no condemnation of the son; the only condemnation is what the son has of himself. He accuses himself for the life that he has lived, while his Father is concerned only with showing forgiveness, joy and love (Luke 15:20-24).
This is in harmony with 1 John 3:19-23 where the Word teaches that our hearts may condemn us when we have done something wrong and that it may hinder our confidence in prayer. That is why it is important to have our conscience cleansed in the light of the Gospel and to be on the right track in our lives. However, the point here and now is that “whenever our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knows all things.”
In other words: He never condemns us, because He never remembers our sins any more. He does not account our sins since Jesus paid His sacrifice; we are cleansed once and for all and we no longer need any offering for sin. He removed the sin by His sacrifice. The most powerful element of this is that it is not only for us Christians, but for the entire world! (2 Cor. 5:19)
John writes about this and says that we shall not sin. “But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
Is this an excuse for sinning? Absolutely not! Follow along and we will soon see.
The fruit of Grace is: Great love, freedom from sin and much joy
Here comes the impressive finale!
This is the result of the Gospel of the grace of God.
What happened to the woman told about in Luke 7:42-47?
The message is that because she had received so much grace, she loved Jesus more than anyone else did! Her experience of this grace made her the greatest admirer. She admired Jesus with genuine admiration, her tears and an expensive perfume. The way the Pharisee received Jesus was pathetic in comparison and many self-righteous Christians fall through completely in their worship of God in comparison to those who have tasted the fullness of grace upon grace!
What was the result of this when the woman in John 8 experienced that Jesus did not condemn her?
She and all others knew that she had failed; yes, failed greatly. However, it was the grace she met that gave the story a happy ending: “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).
Freedom from a life of sin came after fully experiencing being free from condemnation.
That is why it is not true that the message of grace gives people the freedom to sin. It is completely the opposite: grace gives freedom from a life of sin!
What is preached in Luke 15?
Did the lost son want his life among the pigs back after the royal reception he received from his Father? No, and no again!
He rejoiced in the celebration and the joy and he enjoyed his rights as a son in the house. Here was a celebration, joy, music and dance, while the other son stood outside. He was the slave of the Law, staying at home, proclaiming that he had “never disobeyed your orders.” He declined to go in!
That is why the message of grace is the road to a life of freedom and joy – this message has a very happy ending!
It doesn’t matter what the son staying at home says about it.
By: Åge M. Åleskjær
Senior Pastor of Oslo Kristne Senter, Norway. Member of GGN Board of Directors.