The Most Common Response to Grace

Justin Johnson

Licenses give permission to do something that would otherwise be forbidden. The most common response to the grace of God from religious folk is that it gives a ‘license to sin’.

This reaction is predictable since grace sets you free from the condemnation of the law. Grace teaches the glorious news that Christ has accomplished what we failed to obtain: righteousness.

It is not our works by which we are justified but Christ’s work. Someone who does not work righteousness can have faith unto righteousness according to Romans 4:5:

“…to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” – Romans 4:5

The law condemns all under its power and cannot bring justification to those who seek to keep it (Rom 3:20). Justification must come by faith without the deeds of the law (Rom 3:28).

It is quickly realized that if the deeds of the law are not needed then we are free from its condemnation!

The Most Common Response to Grace

What always follows this realization is the most common response to grace, “Is grace a license to sin?” Paul responds to this question in Romans chapter six:

“What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” – Romans 6:15

Paul explains that just because we are not under the law does not mean that it is permissible to sin (Rom 6:7). Grace is not a license to sin.

Grace brings a change in identity and a change in service. Grace does not mean God ignores sin, it means he paid for it on our behalf. Neither does grace mean we continue in sin, but rather we should stop serving it (Rom 6:16).

Instead we serve God as the one who has purchased us with his blood (1 Cor 6:20).

Grace Teaches Us to Live Godly

Grace teaches us to live godly. Not by a list of works that we could never keep, but by repudiating sin altogether, eliminating its stronghold, and crucifying our flesh.

Instead of a rule of law we have the action of love. Against such there is no law. Love is a greater motivator than guilt. Grace reveals the love of God toward us:

“God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

This love constrains us to live for the one who died for us:

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” – 2 Cor 5:14-15

We see then how grace teaches us to live godly, soberly, and righteously in Christ (Titus 2:12).

Grace never gives permission (license) to sin. Instead, it is the ability to live holy lives in Christ without the condemnation of the law. This is great news!

“ For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” – 1 Thess 4:7

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Published: December 11, 2009
Last Modified: July 22, 2016
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