Can too much grace be a bad thing? Won’t too much grace simply produce sons of anarchy, sin gone wild? I mean, c’mon, if it’s grace, grace, and more grace, what’s going to keep people in line? What’s going to motivate us when there is no fear of punishment, nor hope of reward? Isn’t the need always in living well a healthy balance between grace and law?
The Apostle Paul says, “no.” In Romans 6.1-2 he makes it crystal clear: What shall we say then? (What should be the response to all the grace just unloaded in chapter 5?) Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? (Won’t too much grace produce sin gone wild?) By no means! (That is pretty clear!) How can we who died to sin still live in it? (This is the Apostle’s cosmic reason.)
Paul’s answer to a Christian’s messy struggle with sin is moregrace, not more rules: How can we who died to sin still live in it? Paul gives grace or gospel as the power to change lives, grace or gospel as the divine energy that empowers in a struggle with sin, grace or gospel as the new life-generator of true holiness, spiritual growth, and authentic human living. Toplady’s hymn “Rock of Ages” says it this way, grace is the “double cure.”
Grace is the “double cure” because sin is like Pharaoh and Jesus’ death on the cross led the one who has faith in Jesus out of Egypt, for good. Living in Egypt for the Christian is no longer a possibility. Living in Egypt for the Christian is an impossibility to be recognized, not an impossibility still needing to be obtained through the balance of more law or effort. Jesus’ death on the cross is the Christian’s death to sin: it’s done, it’s finished, it’s over! Sin has been dethroned, defeated, crushed. Sin is no longer the Christian’s lord and savior… Jesus is.
What does this practically mean? Everything! The normal Christian life is a messy life (Romans 7). The normal Christian life is struggling with sin (Romans 7). However, for the Christian the struggle is not a losing struggle but a winning one. The struggle with sin for the Christian is a struggle he or she cannot ultimately lose.
One of our greatest problems in our struggle with sin is forgetting we are no longer in Egypt. We allow sin to convince us that we’re back in Egypt. We forget who we are. We forget what Christ’s death has done. We functionally disbelieve the gospel or what Christ has done and functionally believe we are our own savior or it’s up to us in our struggle with sin.
But the Apostle Paul gives us more grace in our struggle with sin. The grace to already be delivered from sin (It’s done), the grace to already be dead to sin (It’s over), the grace to courageously engage in a struggle with sin you cannot lose (It’s finished), the grace to bravely be who you already are (a deeply loved son or daughter of God) in your struggle with sin.