Lesson 18: Chapter 6:15-23
“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
“20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I pray that you and your families are all well. We have a few elderly persons we serve in the churches here, and they are all well. My wife’s extended family has had one person test positive with the COVID, and that person is being well-cared for. We are beginning to see the cracks in the armor of the persons leading this charge for shutting us down; and slowly the fog is beginning to rise and the light is showing that we went about this all wrong on the whole. The quarantining should have been for the most vulnerable and those in senior homes, but the vast majority could have gone about our lives and dealt with the risks.
Today we are going to take a hard look at the man in the mirror. I don’t like that guy sometimes. He and I have a lot of deep conversations that don’t go well. God is so gracious to us, His children. In general, He is gracious to mankind (Matthew 5:45). God provides food for all of His creation; He provides rain to the lost farmers and the saved farmers. He sheds His grace on us all. Jesus came and died for all of our sins, not just the ones that would be saved. God’s grace is offered even to the ones that would reject Him.
- God’s grace
He loves us. We are told in 1 Corinthians 13:5 that love does not keep a record of sins. This is so hard for us; many of us have a memory like a steel trap. We can remember every time someone crossed us, and we have a record and can’t wait until they get their comeuppance. We don’t care if it is us or someone else who gets them, as long as we get to feel that they got what they deserve. But God loves us; and when we become His children, He no longer keeps a record our sins; they are completely covered by Jesus’ blood. In Micah 7:19, we are told that God has “cast our sins into the depths of the ocean.” We have such amazing peace with God because of Jesus.
God’s grace to us is so wonderful. In Ephesians 1:7, we have the forgiveness of sins. In Colossians 1:6, it helps us to bear fruit and to become useful in the Kingdom of God. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, we are guaranteed that God’s grace is enough to get us through anything that we encounter in this life. And in James 4:6, we are promised that when we humble ourselves, God gives us more grace. God’s grace gives us more than we deserve and gives blessings way beyond what we should get. We all deserve to go to hell. But in Jesus we can be saved and go to spend eternity with the Lord in Heaven.
God’s grace to us is like Niagara Falls as far as supply; it just keeps coming and coming, and it is big. All too often we go on as if there is not much grace. We go on as if it is a trickle or at best a drip; but, in fact, it is an avalanche. I challenge you to take an honest look at your life and to ask God to show you His hand. Too many of us have become calloused to the grace of God in our lives. We take His provisions for granted. Sadly, I do take God’s grace for granted.
I take God’s grace for granted in my relationships. Unlike the Lord who does not keep a record of my sins and provides me with fresh mercy each day (Lamentations 3:22-23), I am not one to provide fresh mercy to those around me each day. Rather, I drag yesterday’s failure into today, tomorrow and next week so as to constantly remind myself that I am better than they. But none of us are better than the other; we live at the foot of the throne of grace, and there only. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. We are all the same; sinners in need of saving grace or sinners living in saving grace. Oh, that we were more gracious to each other and more merciful to each other and would show truly the love of God! How would our homes be different and our lives in general, as well as those around us be better?
- My Sin
Like wayward children that see the leniency of their loving parents, we are ones to take advantage of God’s grace. We sin, I sin, and take advantage of God’s grace. Sin is doing anything that God says is wrong, and it is also not doing what God says is right. We often forget the second part. We can all think of sins that we do. Lying, cheating, anger, gossiping, envy and many other things. But what about the things we should do but don’t?
I want to go back to loving and forgiving like Jesus loves and forgives us. All too often we don’t think that being ungracious and unmerciful are sins. But they are, and they are serious sins. We are called in Matthew 5:16 to live in such a way that people can see us and glorify God. They should be able to see how God interacts with us by the way that we interact with other people. If we are unforgiving and unmerciful, then people who watch us, and they do, conclude that God is the same. They view Him as cold and unapproachable. We do Him a great disservice this way.
When we are ungracious and unmerciful, we hinder the work of Christ in others; and those that remain treat others with neither grace nor mercy, and their harshness is perpetuated. Jesus, in His earthly ministry, was loving, patient and gracious to sinners. He was sad at the human condition; and in Hebrews 4:14-18, we are promised a High Priest who can help in times of need. Jesus never condoned sin, and He still does not, but He loves sinners. We should be the same way; we should remember how frail we are; we should recall how sinful the man/woman in the mirror is and be compassionate and kind to those we come in contact with.
God is not an ogre; He is not some insecure overlord who needs us to be forcibly submitted. Rather, God has provided a way for us sinful people to come into His loving presence and to bask in His kindness. We should have the same kind of demeanor where people see us as approachable. They should feel safe in our presence even if they have wronged us. Man, that hits me hard. I am not always this way. As a sinner, I am safe in the presence of the Lord. He tells me (1 John 1: 8-9) to confess my sins and He will forgive me. Once forgiven, that issue is done forever, never to be brought up again.
What if we treated each other this way? What if we were more gracious, more merciful and more like Jesus? What if we made a more valiant attempt to be like Jesus in grace and mercy? Then some of the sins that so often beset us like lying, cheating, gossiping and envy would more easily fall away. All too often we try to stop sinning, and fail. I certainly do. What if we began doing and living right, then maybe there would be less room to sin and be abusers of God’s loving grace.
God bless you,
Pastor Sean Gooding
Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church