Abounding Grace - Part 3
Theme: No Reduction of Grace
This week’s lessons show how the abounding grace of God triumphs over the sin of anyone who comes to Jesus Christ for salvation.
Scripture: Romans 5:20, 21
Yesterday we looked at some biblical examples where even in response to great sin, God did not withhold his grace. But now we come to you. Today most people have very little awareness of their sin, which shows how desperate their condition has become. But perhaps you are one who, like John Bunyan, is aware of it. You may consider yourself to have forfeited all hope of salvation by some sinful action which rises up before you like a great concrete dam against grace. I do not know what that sin is. It may be some gross sexual sin or adultery. It may be a perversion. Perhaps you have stolen from your employer or your parents or someone else who is close to you. Could you have murdered somebody? Destroyed somebody's life work or reputation?
Perhaps you remember a time in your life when you were so tyrannized by sin that you lashed out against God with blasphemies. Perhaps you cursed God. When you think back on those days—they may not be far in the past—you shudder and tremble. You are sure you have passed beyond all bounds of hope, that you are destined to be lost eternally.
If you are such a person—fortunate at least in your knowledge of your sinfulness—then this text is a proclamation of hope for you: “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” Where sin multiplied, grace overflowed! No dam erected by sin can stop the abundant flow of God's grace. Grace is never withheld because of sin—not Adam's sin, not the sin of the people at Sinai, not Israel's sin, not Peter’s sin, not Paul's sin, not John Bunyan's sin...not your sin. You may come to God through faith in Jesus Christ. Right now. Regardless of what you have done. In Jesus you can find full and immediate forgiveness.
The second thing these verses teach about God's super abounding grace is that it is not proportioned according to our sin. There are two errors here. First, there are people who suppose that God is looking down on mankind and that he sees a great variety of people. One man is fairly good, but he is not perfect. He can only be saved by grace. So God dips into his bucket of grace and splashes out just enough for this man to find Christ and salvation. Here is another person, a woman. She is not so good. She needs more grace. Finally, here is a very terrible person. He has committed every sin in the book, and he is not the least bit inclined toward God or godliness. By grace this man is also saved, but it takes a lot of grace to save him. God has to scrape the very bottom of the barrel to get this profligate in.
This is a gross misunderstanding. Grace is not something that makes up for our deficiencies. By grace God provides one hundred percent of what is necessary for the salvation of one hundred percent of the people he is saving. Grace is not measured out in proportion to our misdeeds.
Second, there are people who think like this. Here is a person who was once walking close to God but who fell into some great sin. I do not care what sin it is. It may have been Moses’ sin, David's sin, your sin. But having fallen into sin, this person now thinks that he has forfeited something of God's grace. It is as if he had been given one hundred percent of God's grace originally but supposes that now he is slowly wasting away this treasury of grace by his transgressions.
Do you ever find yourself thinking that? Are you thinking that now? That once you were a first-class Christian, but now, having sinned, you are condemned to be only a second-class or third-class Christian forever? Forget that. Your sin did not keep God's grace from flowing to you in full measure when you came to Christ. It will not keep grace from you now.
I do not mean to suggest even for a moment that God condones sin. God hates sin so much that he sent Jesus Christ to die to rescue men and women from its destructive rule and tyranny. He hates sin in you. He will work to remove it and give you victory over it. In fact, if you do not grow in holiness and progressively triumph over sin, you are not regenerate. You are not a Christian. But the point I am making is that God will never diminish his grace toward you because of some sin. In fact—if I can say it this way and not be misunderstood—it is in your sin that you will find grace to be most abundant. The reason Paul was such a champion of grace was that he had been forgiven a great deal.
- Most people have such a slight, if any, awareness of their sin that they do not realize the seriousness of their condition. What verses can you find in Scripture that challenge those who treat their sin in this way?
- Other people have such a strong awareness of the severity of their sin that they feel they are past hope for God’s grace. What verses can you find in Scripture that are meant to give assurance of God’s mercy in Christ to any sinner who truly repents?
- From the lesson, why is God's grace not proportioned to our sin?
Application: How would you try to minister to another believer who felt that because of his sin, he is now a lesser Christian than before?