Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Urgency of Grace

I am far from a perfectionist.  Usually, good enough is good enough for me.  But for some reason, I've been typing and re-typing this post for weeks.  I keep hoping that I'll finally makes sense of the perplexing connection between the grace of Jesus that removes all condemnation for sin and the urgency that remains for me to put sin to death, by the grace of Jesus.  I've given up trying to get it right.  So this will have to be good enough:

My brooding over the urgency of grace comes from spending a lot of time meditating on Romans 8.  Here's a couple verses that have been on my mind a lot:

Romans 8:1  "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus."  
Romans 8:11-13 - "The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.  Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.  For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live."

What first bothered me about these verses is that even though there is no condemnation because of Jesus, there still remains a life and death urgency to put sin to death.  Too often, I find myself content with my sin being forgiven, but not put to death.  I get content and complacent with the lust, greed, worry, rage, selfishness, and the like that is still within me.  But the text is clear that Jesus did not die so I could have forgiveness for my sins but continue to practice them.  Unfortunately, "forgiveness without urgency to change" is a very, very common, but wrong version of Christianity today.  Dallas Willard refers to this version as "Vampire Christianity:  where one in effect says to Jesus:  'I'd like a little of your blood, please. But I don't care to be your student or have your character. In fact, won't you just excuse me while I get on with my life, and I'll see you in heaven." (The whole article, Why Bother With Discipleship, is well worth the read.) 

Here's the reality of grace according to Romans 8:

1.  My sin is forgiven by grace.  Jesus died in my place taking the punishment for my sin.  There is now no condemnation for my sin because I belong to Christ.
2.  My sin is put to death by grace.  Jesus not only died to take away the condemnation for my sin, but rose to overcome my sin.  Because I belong to Jesus, I have the power to put to death the sin in my life.  This grace creates a sense of urgency within me.  I want to experience the righteous life of Jesus so I do all I can by the grace of Jesus to put sin to death.

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