Living in Spite of Grace
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4 NASB
If it weren’t so paradoxical, it would be amusing that we try to live the Christian life in rejection of grace. There is no such thing as the gospel of Christ separated from grace. So why do we live like we have to continuously make atonement for our sin by berating ourselves? How do we dare to set ourselves in the judgement seat of God, who alone holds the right to condemn and justify?
Maybe it’s pride. Maybe it’s unbelief. Maybe it’s just a spirit of rebellion, even – because even though we allow ourselves less grace than even God does, it’s still more comfortable to live under our own rule than that of Someone who is bigger and infinitely more holy than us. I don’t know. But I do know this: we have no room to be the final voice on the matter of our shortcomings.
It is absurd to reject God’s grace in favor of self-pronounced condemnation, not only because it flies in the face of the gospel, but because it doesn’t really accomplish anything in the way of repentance and sanctification. I get it, though. I promise I do. I am so hard on myself (and not hard on myself enough, at the same time) in that I second guess any good I do and I am merciless when I fall. But having this mentality is like shoving Christ’s sacrifice back in His face. “I don’t need this. I can handle it. You can come back when I get myself under control.” Blasphemy, that’s what this is.
Sanctification is a messy business because we are messy, depraved creatures. But neither you nor I are the CEO of that business. I don’t mean to say that sin is smaller than we make it out to be. What I will say, even in spite of myself, is that the grace of God is bigger than we could ever hope. He is more powerful than our sin. He already has the victory over it. We can’t be separated from His love even if we tried (Rom. 8:37-39). And we won’t have true repentance either way until we surrender under the weight of His grace. It’s about time we truly believed that.
Father, convict and forgive me when I reject Your grace and pronounce condemnation on myself for my failures. You know the weaknesses of Your creatures, yet you love and forgive us through the Son and a covenant of grace. Help me not to take it lightly, but to walk in newness of life, in light of Your grace.
How have you tried to punish or condemn yourself for struggling in sanctification? What does genuine repentance look like, and what is the cause of it? God’s love convicts us more strongly than our own self-wrought conviction ever could.