A license to sin?

Free From the Yoke of Slavery

Bob George        

"Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" Romans 6:1

Wherever the pure message of God's love and acceptance in Jesus Christ has been shared, people have raised the same objection:  "But you're giving people a license to sin."  Actually, I have noticed that people are sinning quite well without a license, but that is beside the point.  It's not a new issue; Paul faced it many times.  In fact, he raised it himself in his letter to the Romans, knowing as he did what was going through people's minds as they listened to his explanation of the gospel:  "What shall we say, then?  Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? … What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?" (Romans 6:1, 15).

In both cases his answer is, "By no means!"  It's as if he were saying, "What an absurd question!"  And it is an absurd question when you understand the love and grace of God and know about Christ living in you.  I have been asked it many times, and I like to answer with an illustration.

Imagine you own a fine cafeteria.  One day, you hear this tremendous commotion out in the alley where the garbage dumpsters are.  You open the back door to see what's going on, and you see the most pitiful-looking man you have ever seen — me — fighting with several stray cats over the food scraps in the dumpster.  There is nothing about me to provoke liking or affection in you, but you are moved to pity.  "Listen," you say, "I can't stand to see you eating garbage like that. Come into my cafeteria and eat."

"But I don't have any money," I reply.

It doesn't matter," you say.  "I can afford it.  I want you to eat here every day from now on, absolutely free of charge!"

You take my arm and lead me inside the restaurant.  I cannot believe my eyes.  I have never seen a cafeteria line before: vegetables…beef…chicken…pies; in my wildest dreams, I have never even imagined that such things could be.

I look at you intently, "Are you saying I can eat anything I want?"
"Yes, anything."
"Really, anything I want?" I ask again.
"Yes, I said anything you want," you answer.

Then slowly, with a gleam in my eye, I ask, "Can I eat some garbage?"

What would you think of me?  You would think I was insane, wouldn't you?  In the face of all that delicious food, all I can think of to ask is whether I can eat garbage.  But that is exactly how I feel when people ask me if they can sin because they are under grace!

Getting Past the Sin Obsession

Jesus Christ laid down His life for us to take away, once and for all, our sins and guilt before a holy God.  Then He gave His life to us to raise us from the dead spiritually.  He gave us His righteousness, total acceptance, sonship in the family of God. He has made us to be

a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you our of darkness into His wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9).

The life that He has given us is His life: Jesus Christ living in and through us each and every day — an exciting adventure of being used by God to express His life and His love to people around us.  And in the face of a "cafeteria line" like this, that Jesus called "abundant" life (John 10:10), all a person can think to ask is, "Does that mean that you can just go out and sin more?"

The Christian world is obsessed with sin.  It's all we talk about.  Most of our preaching and teaching is directed toward getting people to quit sinning.  Are you ready for a really shocking statement?  The goal of the Christian life is not to stop sinning!  To use the analogy of the starving man, most Christian teaching is like a person following a starving man around saying, "You stay out of the garbage!"  Look, when you're truly hungry, you'll eat anything — even garbage.

What should you do?  I promise you: If you will get that man into the cafeteria line, and he begins experiencing what real, good food is like, he won't be nostalgically dreaming about the garbage out back.

What is it that every human being needs?  The life of Christ!  And not just our initial receiving of Him into our lives; we need to experience daily the reality of knowing Christ and waking with Him in a vibrant relationship.  The Lord defined eternal life this way: "Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent" (John 17:3).  That is the real goal of the Christian life! Knowing Christ!

It is only in comparison with the riches of knowing Christ that sin begins to lose its appeal.  The longer that I am a Christian, the more I feel in my heart that sin is not just wrong, it is outright stupid.  I feel so dumb for settling for anything less than experiencing Jesus Christ Himself every minute.  Why should I ever wallow in the garbage when the Lord has laid a banquet table for me?  And yet, the "stay-out-of-the-garbage" approach to Christian education predominates today.


excerpt from Classic Christianity by Bob George

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Additional Resources:

An Argument From Gratitude — When we consider the heavens and the earth beneath our feet, it should astound us that we are not more grateful than we are.

An Exchange of Values — We cannot adopt the value system of Jesus unless we give up the value system of this world.

Forgiven To Be Filled — By separating forgiveness of sins from the message of receiving the life of Christ, we have not only missed out on experiencing life, but we have lost sight of the purpose of forgiveness in the first place.

How Great is our God — The heavens declare the glory of God.  From Canis Majoris to Laminin, we see concrete evidence of God's power, majesty, and love.

Meekness — A story of power out of control that became power under control.

The Practical Power of New Identity — What do you do if you're a Christian and you are wrestling with temptations and desires that are obviously sinful?

Surrender and Renewal — The most reasonable, logical thing you can do is to offer yourself without reserve to a God who loves you beyond comprehension.

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