Is Grace Simply a License to Sin?


This topic has presented itself in the form of numerous questions and statements in the past, such as the following: Does preaching grace lead to a careless lifestyle? Wonimage’t people run out and sin recklessly if they get too “deep” into the grace message?

We cannot preach grace to new believers because they are not mature enough to be trusted with such freedom yet.

Taking the law off believers gives them a license to sin. All these statements fly straight in the face of what the Bible teaches about grace: For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age. (Tit 2: 11-12 NKJV)

First let us consider how the truth of grace influences a person’s thinking. When we begin to comprehend what the message of grace is all about (how God pardoned the sins of the whole world (Hebrews 10: 17); abolished the written code of the law (Colossians 2: 14); set people at liberty to live free from the fear of judgment and punishment (1 John 4: 18); how believers are encouraged to have boldness when approaching God (Hebrews 10: 19-21); that we can be confident that God will never be angry with us ever again (Isaiah 54: 9-10) and many other truths like these), it is clear that a proper understanding of these matters will in fact not encourage a person to want to sin, but rather inspire such a person to be more thankful toward God for all He has done, to live a life worthy of the sacrifice made by Jesus and to deny ungodly conduct as stated in Titus 2: 11-12 (above).

In Romans 4 Paul writes about this same thing: 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin. (Rom 4: 5-8 NKJV) Here Paul was quoting the words of David from Psalm 32: 1-2.

David was looking forward into the future and prophetically saw the New Covenant with all its benefits, such as grace, forgiveness of all sins, unconditional love and acceptance, etc. He expressed his longing to live under this covenant, since he was still bound by the law of having to perform rituals and make regular atoning sacrifices for his sins. David also wanted to live in the freedom that we now have, being justified freely through our faith in Christ.

In verse 6 we see the word “blessedness”used. The Greek form of this word is actually “blessednesses”(in the plural form). David was about to describe the different kinds of blessedness that believers would have under the New Covenant, hence the semicolon at the end of verse 6: In verse 7 he said that people would firstly be blessed in the New Covenant because all their sins have been forgiven.

Everything immoral they’ve ever done has been swept into the deepest parts of the ocean and since God is not really into deep sea diving, He’s not going to go down there and dig them up again. In verse 8 he said that people would also be blessed because God would never count any of their future mistakes against them either.

Most law preachers have a major problem with this second type of blessedness, considering it to be a blank check to go out and sin.

However the Word says what it says…Mostly the arguments and questions against the grace message, such as the ones mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, come from people who are not necessarily afraid that they themselves will be deceived into wanting to commit more sin, but their arguments are for other “weaker” Christians who in their opinion do not yet have the maturity to handle the responsibility that comes with such freedom. Therefore they insist that the truth of the grace message be taught with a healthy dose of law mixed in to warn these “weak” Christians against the perils of sinning.

How ironic is it then that the Bible actually teaches us that sin doesn’t increase through grace, but rather through the law: God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant (Rom 5: 20 NLT).

Grace actually came in and removed the sin that was made more abundant through the law! So for someone to say that grace is a license to sin, it simply serves to expose such a person’s ignorance to what grace actually means and stands for.

It reveals that they don’t understand that the power of the Holy Spirit inside a believer (reminding them of their complete 100% righteous standing before God) is an infinitely stronger empowerment for “good behavior” than threatening someone with the law. Therefore as a result of these truths, the legalists can all relax and come to terms with the fact that the Holy Spirit can be trusted with the transforming work in the life of a believer: …being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil 1: 6 NKJV)

Nobody appointed us as each other’s moral policemen, so how can we ever try to assume that function?

The truth is that grace can never be reduced to an “acceptable” level to compensate for the insecurities of legalists. Due to the extreme nature of the law, grace also needs to be preached in its purest form in order to free people from the poison and prison of “works based”mindsets.


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