Grace, Sin and Finance (Jordan Stumbo)
Imagine your banking account if you will. Yes a rather scary task . Your savings, checking, credit all being balanced together to try to help you live. We work all month to fill up our accounts and usually by the end of said month, most of it is gone, so we go back and do it all over again. A balancing act that would crack the most talented of trapeze artists. We try to manage it to the best of our abilities and be good stewards of what God has given to us. We try to save and live within our means so that we will not go into outrageous debt.
Yet something within our human mindset will not allow us to be content with our current lifestyles. There is always that purchase that is just a little bit more than what we have at the moment, a price that we are just not prepared to deal with. It could be anything from an ipad to a new car, even something as simple as an extra coffee from starbucks that we really don't have the money for. The struggle goes on in our minds between our desire for the object we wish to purchase, and the knowledge of the lack of funds to do so. In this moment of internal anxiety we remember a little piece of plastic in our possession, one that will solve all our problems, our credit card. Yes it is supposed to be for "emergencies", but isn't this desire urgent? So what if it takes a few months to pay it off, it will all work out in the end. So with some trepedation (at least the first time) we pull out the credit card and say, "Charge it!"
Sin is bad. It destroys our very souls and prepares us for an eternity without God, living under the worst possible conditions in Hell, if you don't believe me maybe you will Jesus ( Matt. 5 and Mark 9 talks about it some). Yet for some foolish reason humanity is enamored by it. It may be the fact that we read about it in our books and magazines, listen to it on the radio, watch it on our televisions, seek it out on our computers, talk about it with our friends, see all the "cool people" doing it and think about it before we go to bed that has us loving it so much. Most of the sin that we deal with on a daily basis is being advertised to us just like the "next big item", Satan is telling us that our lives will be so much better with it. Making us feel insignificant without sin is one of his oldest tricks (see Garden of Eden [Gen.3 1-8]) but is still being used so effectively today. If you are dealing with temptation, please dear reader, understand the fact that you are not insignificant, you are not a throwaway soul that God has no use for, you will not be made better by the sin, but all the worse by it.
In our moments of weakness sin appears to be overwhelming, and it appears to be our only option at times. It is kind of like our purchase that we talked about earlier. Sin looks attractive and we feel that we need it. We know that our lives have been changed by God, and that sin carries a price tag that we are not willing to pay, for we know that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Then we remember this thing that happened long ago, the cross. Jesus already died for my sin so I can use grace to get out of this sin! So with some trepidation (at least the first time) we say, "Charge it to Grace!"
Welcome to the modern view of Grace. Like credit cards, grace was intended to get us out of an emergency. The moment when we fall to temptation without meaning to and are immediately repentant, that is when grace kicks in and we are forgiven. It is a beautiful and wonderful gift that ensured us a second chance even if we mess up. But what God has intended to only be used in the most extreme cases, some have used grace as a way to incorporate sin into their lives. Much like the credit crisis most of the world is facing where people have tried to incorporate expenses into their lifestyle that they cannot afford with credit, people try to live in sin while making grace pay for it. Grace was not meant to fund your lifestyle of sin, it is not there to pay for impure relationships, pornographic addictions, flirtations with drugs and alcohol, filthy minds and words, or any sin that you can imagine or are currently in love with. Now please do not misunderstand, I am not talking about the individual that has yet to come to God and is living in sin. When they find a place of repentance God will forgive them. (Eph. 1:7). I am talking to the person that says they have a relationship with God, who claim to be Christians, yet they are the furthest thing from Christ like in their thoughts, words and actions.
God has called His people to be Holy, or in other words to be like Him. Holiness is not just a byword that is the antithesis of freedom in grace, it is the essence of God. Numerous times in the book of Leviticus the God commands His people, "Be Holy, for I am Holy", and before you argue that it is an Old testament principle that is irrelevant to the "Age of Grace" remember that the Apostle Peter thought that it was necessary to the church to be holy when he quoted the same Scripture in 1 Peter 1:16.