by Paul Miles, adapted from an article in the March-April 2012 edition of Grace in Focus.
President Calvin Coolidge was known for being soft spoken. One day after church, his wife asked him, “What was the service about?” to which, he replied, “Sin.” So, his wife asked the follow-up question, “Well, what did he say about sin?” to which Coolidge responded, “He was against it.”
As Free Gracers, we often hear the accusation that Free Grace is not against sin. People say that Free Grace Theology teaches that since we are saved by grace through faith and cannot lose our eternal life, then we may as well go out and live whatever sinful lives we desire. However, this accusation not only fails to take into account the Biblical teachings of eternal rewards, but it also fails to recognize something that people often overlook. Many people, even some Free Gracers, don’t realize that Free Grace Theology is the only system that takes the problem of sin seriously. Let’s take a look at some other systems’ ways of dealing with sin, so we can see how Free Grace theology compares.
Countless systems teach that we must have some kind of works to be saved. These systems don’t take sin seriously because they fail to realize that our sins are too great for our works to be able to cover them. Isaiah 64:6 says:
But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.
Could you imagine if someone offended you, and he apologized by bringing a pile of filthy rags? I can’t imagine a debt that someone could owe me that I would be willing to accept dirty rags as payment for, can you? The thought that we can pay our way into eternal life with our own works not only fails to realize how insignificant our works are, but it also downplays the severity of our sins.
Isaiah says that our sins have taken us away like the wind. A few months ago, the winds of Hurricane Matthew hit America and the Caribbean, blowing through brick and concrete as if it were hay and straw. Matthew cost over 1,600 lives and caused over $10.5 billion in property damage. Several Churches pitched in to volunteer money, property, and labor to assist Hurricane Matthew victims. Suppose someone was so touched by all of the damage that he saw on television, that he loaded up his truck with rags, took it to Florida and said, “Here you go! You can use this pile of filth to replace all of your homes that you’ve lost to the wind.” Would we say that he understood the damage that had been done? Probably not. If we believe that our own good works are capable of atoning for our sins, then we are underestimating the damage that sin causes.
Part 2 of this Article may be viewed here.
Paul now leads Grace Abroad ministries which focuses on free grace translation, teaching, and outreach, especially in Eastern Europe. www.graceabroad.org