The Misuse and Neglect of God’s Grace – Part 2 :: By Todd Baker

Receiving the Grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1):

“We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that you receive not the grace of God in vain.”

Receiving 1): then, as workers Him, beseech that you receive not of God in vain.”

The Greek word for “vain” is kenos and means to receive God’s grace in an empty and self-conceited way. Here in this passage, Paul talks about receiving God’s grace in vain under the context of ministry. When a person truly receives the grace of God, it produces a giving heart willing and anxious to share Christ with others. A recipient of saving grace will first seek to glorify Christ and then serve others.

The one outstanding earmark of a minister that has received the grace of God in vain is seen by the fact that he will use the gracious ability of God, given to minister, to draw attention to himself rather than the Lord Jesus Christ alone. He will use the name of Jesus and the appeal of the Gospel to promote, enrich, and financially prosper himself. Instead of serving the church, he uses the church to exclusively serve him.

A ministry that is constantly centered on a certain individual rather than Jesus Christ and His Church is a ministry that has received the grace of God in vain. Their works will be burned up in the Day of Judgment and they are in danger of eternal loss.

Biblical examples of those that frustrated the grace of God:

False prophets and religious unsaved ministers of the Gospel. They will have wrought signs and wonders in the name of Jesus. On the day of the Great White Throne judgment, the Lord Jesus will be cast them into the lake of fire because in their selfish unsaved state they sought to use the power of God for unlawful purposes (see Matthew 7:20-23).

Judas. This apostle witnessed the great ministry of Jesus and walked intimately with Him for three years. Yet he forfeited his apostolic office and betrayed his beloved Master for a financial reward of iniquity and thus received the grace of God in vain when using it in the end for selfish gain (Acts 1:16-25).

Demas. This man was a close associate minister of the Apostle Paul, but his love for the present world system frustrated God’s grace causing him to later abandon the imprisoned apostle. Of this tragedy, Paul lamentably wrote in 2 Timothy 4:10: “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.”

Turning the grace of God into lasciviousness (Jude 4):

“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Greek word for “lasciviousness” is aselgeian. It means to engage in a vice of immoral activity. This passage warns of false Christians that declare God’s freely given grace allows Christians to commit sin and indulge in any immoral practice without any moral obligations to obey God. Grace then becomes a license for sin. Anyone claiming to be a Christian yet says that God’s grace somehow gives us a freedom without moral restrictions is a false prophet and worker of iniquity.

True, we as Christians are now under grace and not under the condemnation of the Law, but we have been freed now by Christ not to sin that we may become servants of His in righteous and holy living (Romans 6:1-2). The body, mind, and spirit of the Christian should be ruled and guided under the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:12-18) instead of the unruly passions of the sin nature that is contrary to the will of God and His rule.

Grace has delivered us from the binding obligation of the Mosaic Law as a way of trying to earn God’s favor. Christ is our fulfillment and payment for the penalty of the Law (Romans 10:4). But we are not saved to be without God’s law as a lawless people given over to vice and immorality. Christians are under a new law-the law of Christ (1 Corinthians 7:22; 9:21).

The law of Christ is the law of love. The law of Christ is to love God supremely and then love our neighbor as ourselves. This love translates into moral obedience to God and a just treatment and concern for our neighbor’s well being (Galatians 6:1-2).

As we let the love of God work in us and through us, Christ’s law is expressed and fulfilled. We are saved by God’s free grace not so that we can do whatever we desire. Believers in Christ are liberated from the bondage of sin to serve a new Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s grace never excuses us from rendering obedience to God. It gives us the power to obey Him with holy and righteous conduct in all manner of living through the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us (Titus 2:11-12; 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 5-7).

God’s grace emancipates us from sin to serve Christ (Galatians 5:13-14; Romans 13:8-10). Grace is never used as a cloak for evil-doing (1 Peter 2:16). Those who have truly received God’s saving grace will keep Christ’s commandments with loving obedience (John 14:21, 23- 24; 1 John 2:3-5). “For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not grievous.” Obedience to God is not a mere option for Christians, but is the natural outgrowth of saving grace. God’s grace always produces Holy and moral living.

Fallen From Grace (Galatians 5:4):

“Christ has become of no effect to you, who attempt to be justified by the Law, you are fallen from grace.”

The Greek word for “falling” here in this verse is ekpipto. It means to lose and become inefficient. This passage does not mean to say that by falling from grace, salvation is lost. The context and circumstance of the epistle to the Galatians provides the true meaning of what it means to fall from grace and how it happens.

The churches from the region of Galatia (the northern region of Asia Minor—present day Turkey) were being disrupted by a group of heretics called the Judaizers. They were a group of Jews that taught one could be saved or sanctified by grace plus the observance of the Law of Moses, such as being circumcised, keeping the Sabbath, eating kosher food, and so forth.

The Judaizers taught the Galatians that they had to not only believe in Christ but also follow the Law of Moses in every point to be saved. Salvation according to these false teachers consisted of keeping the Law of Moses in accordance with the prescribed rituals of Judaism. Faith in Christ alone was not enough to secure salvation from sin without trying to keep the Law of Moses. Paul proclaimed salvation is by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ apart from the works of the Law (Galatians 2:16).

The Judaizers of Galatia taught, contrary wise, that salvation is attained by a combination of faith and by trying to keep the Law. Divine grace for the Judaizers served merely as an extra help for the Christian to keep the Law. Paul quickly corrected this damnable heresy in his epistle to the Galatians. He wrote to the Galatians that salvation is alone based on faith in the complete and finished work of Christ’s death on the cross apart from the works of the Law; because of man’s sinful and flawed nature, he is unable to perfectly obey all that the Law demands.

Therefore trying to keep the Law cannot justify the sinner before God. Instead, the sinner must trust and fully believe that Christ died on the cross and shed His blood to pay the price for sin and rose from the dead three days later. There is no other way the sinner can obtain pardon or approval from God except by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. To teach and believe we can earn salvation by working for it blatantly denies what is taught in the Scriptures.

Salvation is free gift given through Christ alone and received by faith alone in a forgiving God. In Galatians 1:8-9, the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul pronounced God’s curse of eternal damnation on those that preach a gospel of self effort and works which is contrary to the Gospel of salvation by grace alone received through faith alone.

To “fall from grace” is to accept and follow a belief system that teaches salvation can be earned by working for it: by trying to be good or by following a set of religious laws and practices instead of what Christ did on the cross alone. To fall from grace is to then rely on human effort instead of the love and power of God revealed at the cross. Even to teach that grace plus our good works is enough to earn salvation is still an utter repudiation of salvation by grace alone received through faith alone in Jesus Christ.

If we were able to indeed earn salvation by keeping the Law, then the death of Christ would be for nothing (Galatians 2:2). We fall from grace every time we look to ourselves and try to earn or work for God’s approval instead of basing our total acceptance with God on the saving work of what Jesus Christ has done. To fall from grace is to adopt the attitude that we can in some way merit God’s favor by our good works combined with Christ’s achievements (a grace plus works mentality).

It also means to think that by being a good person to the best of your ability somehow will make you worthy of God’s love. Millions of unsaved souls have been damned by the devil’s convincing lie that God will weigh their good deeds against their bad ones, and if their good deeds outweigh their bad ones, they will be saved and go to heaven. But Scripture declares there is no other way to be saved except through Jesus Christ.

“Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

This is the clear testimony throughout the Word of God (see John 6:29; 14:6; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7). Falling from grace is a failure to trust Christ alone for salvation and fall away from the freedom of grace by reverting back to the slavery of trying to keep the Law as a means of obtaining salvation from God.