I grew up with the above words as part of my regular conversations with my friends and neighbours. As children, we teased one another and sarcastically mocked one another. It was therefore characteristic of us to tease one another either as boyfriend or girlfriend of people we detested, or attribute denigrating statements or behaviour to one another. The usual refutation and defence was ‘God forbid!!’. It is one of the most emphatic expressions of disapproval of a consideration. This assertion is found in Romans 6:2 and inspires my discourse today about a matter of doctrinal concern especially between preachers and teachers of ‘Grace’ and those they will either refer to as teachers of the ‘Law’ or teachers of ‘mixture’. I use those terminologies out of the lingua of ‘Grace preachers’.
The book of Romans is one of my favourites in the New Testament and is perhaps the most read for me in the Bible. My Uncle had advised me to read the gospels first, read John twice and then move on to Acts of the Apostles and Romans as a young Christian.
I have advised several young believers to do the same over the years. The gospels introduce us to Christ from different perspectives and with different emphasis. John the beloved focused more on Christ’s divinity more than any other evangelist. Romans aptly introduced us to the Epistles after our introduction to the Holy Spirit in Acts of the Apostles.
The book shows us the helplessness of man in his fallen state, the powerlessness of the Law of Moses to save him and then how the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ through Christ’s supreme sacrifice has brought salvation to us through the vehicle of Faith. Making a strong assertion after showing us that the Law was given to us to establish the existence of sin. However, where sin abounds through the Law, Grace much more abounds (Romans 5:20). When Christ sacrificed himself for our sins, its effect was dated back to the garden of Eden and projected forward to the end of the world. All sins past, present and future in human experience were all subsumed in that glorious sacrifice and forgiven forever.
Faith in Christ delivers this Grace (unmerited favour) to man as soon as Faith is exercised in the finished work of Christ.
The power of God’s Grace is such that it delivers the gift of righteousness to us (Romans 5:12,15,17). Righteousness is attaining to God standards and having ‘Right Standing’ with God. In other words, Righteousness is the ability to stand before God with absolutely no sense of wrong, guilt or condemnation, thereby having full confidence to worship Him and receive from Him. It was a great work of exchange. According to 2 Corinthians 5:21, Christ was made a sin offering for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. In that great substitutionary work, Christ in His total purity had all of our sins accounted to Him and suffered as if he was the offender. Today, in exchange for our sins, His Righteousness has now become ours and we are accounted righteous with the Righteousness of Christ. This gift of Righteousness has freed us from all condemnation since Christ carried our condemnation on our behalf 2000 years ago. This revelation has been abused by many. Realizing that with Faith in Christ’s finished work their sins are forgiven, they take that as a license for continued sin. Paul perceiving that this unfortunate development will likely evolve from the Revelation of Righteousness as a gift, he addressed it in his epistle. God forbid!! What an insight into the mind of God concerning sin and holiness.
How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein (Romans 6:2). The very sacrifice that guarantees the forgiveness of our sins is the same sacrifice that accounted our old lives crucified with him (Galatians 2:20). The power of sin is broken over us and the new life we have in Christ is His life that supercedes the power of sin (Romans 8:2).
Nothing about the revelation of the Grace of God encourages sinful living. Being in Christ assumes we have denied all ungodliness and worldly lusts (Titus 2:11). Living the Christ life means we have renounced our old life of sin and embraced the new life whose fruit is holiness. The Grace of God does not only accounts us holy but empowers us to live out the new life we have in Christ. My heart goes out to the spiritually ignorant and unlearned who fall easy prey to pastors and brothers in the Lord who use false interpretations of the Bible to hoodwink them in order to satisfy their lusts. Paul never endorsed a sinful lifestyle in the name of the Grace of God and it is deceptive in the least to preach that. Several portions of scripture question the validity of Faith that is not supported with a transformed life. Paul declared we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto ‘good works’ (Ephesians 2:10). John declared that he who is righteous does righteousness.