The question “Is Grace a License to Sin?” 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?
- Won’t people run out and sin recklessly if they get too “deep” into the Grace message?
- We can not preach Grace to a new believer 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:
Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age. (KJV)
Firstly let us consider how Grace influences a person’s thinking. When we 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 judgement 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 issues will in fact not encourage a person to want to sin, but rather inspire such a person to be more thankful towards 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).
Mostly the arguments and questions against the Grace message, such as the ones we mentioned above, come from people who are not necessarily afraid that they themselves will be deceived into wanting to commit more sins, 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 encourage 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 isn’t it then that the Bible teaches us that sin doesn’t increase through Grace, but rather through the Law:
Rom 5:20 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 (NLT).
Grace actually came in and covered the sins that were 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. As a result 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:
Phil 1:6 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. (KJV)
Nobody appointed us as each other’s moral policemen, so how can we ever try to assume that function?
A good response whenever we hear someone ask “Is Grace a licence to sin?”, is whether a fear of punishment is their only motivation for doing good. We do good works and live a moral lifestyle because we WANT TO (the desires of the Holy Spirit working in and through us), not because we fear the consequences if we don’t.
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 needs to be preached in its purest form as well in order to free people from the poison of “works based” mindsets.
Check out this awesome article by Bas Rijksen: Should you be careful not abuse Grace? NEVER.