Sin and Grace

October 29, 2014 houghton

sin-and-graceSin must be one of the most unpopular things for Christians to talk about… and grace is sometimes one of the hardest to grasp. I just saw these quotes from Gerald Bray on the Gospel Coalition website which get to the heart of the matter and help to clear away a lot of the confusion…

First, we need to think about our condition, and not just our symptoms; it’s more about who we are than what we do:

“Most people think of sin in terms of actions that we commit, which makes it impossible for them to think of a newborn child as a sinner, for example. But the great theologians… understood that sinfulness is a state of separation from God. The actions that a person does merely reflect that more fundamental alienation. Even if they are good in themselves, they cannot bring us closer to God because our relationship with him has been broken by something that goes deeper than that.”

Second, we need to be honest with ourselves about just how screwed up and twisted our motives often become, even when we think we want to glorify God:

“For me, the hardest thing about sin is dealing with the fundamental fact that it is a spiritual separation from God. I struggle with this in my own life because I am always trying to set goals for myself, as if righteousness were some kind of fitness training program. The problem is that there is nothing wrong about leading a morally upright life. Indeed, we are meant to do that as far as we can. The apostle Paul has told us that it is absurd to go around sinning just in order to see God’s forgiving grace at work in our lives, and I have to remember that. But at the same time, I also have to bear in mind that however hard I try, my success or failure in this does not determine my standing before God. He loves me in my sinfulness, and Christ has united me to himself in order to give me his righteousness, which I cannot acquire on my own. It sounds fine in theory, of course, but putting it into practice on a daily basis, especially when I am tempted to think that I have achieved something that God will be proud of, is the hardest thing to deal with. How can God love me when I have done nothing to deserve that? This is the deepest mystery of our faith, and the thing that I struggle with most of all.”

These will always be challenging things for disciples seeking to follow Christ—but what fantastic news that ‘my success or failure in this does not determine my standing before God.’ And that’s his grace…