Thursday, 13 November 2008


There's plenty of it about, and lots of good advice for coping with the problems it creates.

But I am often surprised at how the advice Christians give completely overlooks grace. I was talking to Mike yesterday and he reminded me of Titus 2:11-14.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Yes, the world is full of good, practical suggestions that good, practical people make and good, practical people will take up.

But if you haven't got grace, you got nothin'. The grace of God in Jesus Christ is not just an initial infusion of righteousness that then leaves you doing the best you can, giving the Lord a hand. That grace is the powerful Holy Spirit, changing us into the likeness of Christ. See the note on the Spirit's work in Titus 3:5.

I find it distressing to see Christians compartmentalizing their lives away from their doctrine of God's saving grace, and it seems to me that lust is one area in which such legalism reigns supreme at the moment. And legalism is a far worse problem for Christians, because it strikes at the root of faith.


Philip said...

Hi Gordon,
Well said! We often talk to people about sexual sin and apply rules and law to teach people what they should do to avoid it. But our teacher is the Grace of God! Of course, grace will still teach us to say 'no'to certain behaviours and ways of thinking, but grace teaches us in a very different way from law.

I take it that the difference is in how we are motivated. God's gracious love for me, while I was still his enemy, teaches me to repent in response to this gracious love, not in response to a legal demand. the penal substitutionary death of our Lord Jesus is the centrepiece of this grace, of course.

I will always use law to justify sin, but grace will inflame me to obey the Lord Jesus.

Theologically, we often lapse into legal repentance as opposed to evangelical repentance. Repentance is a response to grace.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of John Piper's excellent address to the Passion 07 conference entitled "How to Deal with the Guilt of Sexual Failure for the Glory of Christ and His Global Cause":