Tuesday, July 2, 2013

WHAT GRACE TEACHES US

At Times Square Church, we preach of God's mercy, compassion, and lovingkindness toward us, His justification and sanctification of us, and His acceptance of us in His son. All these doctrines center on God's grace toward us through Jesus Christ. But what happens to us when we try to heap up this rich inheritance?

Consider what happened to the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. Once he loaded himself down with his father's wealth, it began burning a hole in his pocket and he decided to turn to the world to satisfy the lust in his heart. He said to himself, "My blessing is going to last a long time!"

I am convinced many Christians cannot handle the blessings of grace. They glory in the message of God's unearned pardon, filling their minds with every Bible passage describing His mercy and compassion. They love to hear the story of the shepherd who goes after the lost sheep, because it brings them great comfort. Yet, once they stockpile all the rich, glorious truth about God's grace toward them, it begins to burn a hole in their purse of flesh. And it becomes to them a license to sin!

The prodigal misused his wealth in this way. He spent his father's riches partying, gambling, getting drunk, visiting prostitutes. Night after night he squandered his blessings, falling deeper and deeper into sin. Yet each morning he got up, shook off all conviction, went back to his stash and told himself, "There's still plenty here for me. I can handle it."

In the same way, today many Christians set off for some place of forbidden pleasure, looking to spend their riches on riotous living. Their lust carries them to the bed of a fornicator, to a fix of cocaine, to homosexuality, to pornography, to alcohol or drugs. Yet they continually comfort themselves in their sin, saying, "God's grace is more than sufficient for me. He will love me no matter what I do in my flesh. His mercies endure forever!"

No! God's grace was never intended to be perverted and squandered. In fact, it is meant to have just the opposite effect. Paul writes: "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world" (Titus 2:11-12). God's grace teaches us godliness, righteousness, and a holy fear of the Lord!