The Law and Grace. Day thirty...
In 1741, Jonathan Edwards preached one of the most famous sermons in American history, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” While I cringe whenever I even hear the title, Edwards felt it necessary to deal with sin in a church that had not seemed to respond to the revival that had swept through the Colonies in what is called the First Great Awakening.
Apparently this congregation needed some further awakening and Edwards provided the stimulus—as it's reported that during the sermon people in the congregation cried out, “What shall I do to be saved?”
Here in the United States I see two opposite reactions to Edwards' sermon.
One reaction says, “We need some more preaching like that today! People need to wake up to their sin!”
The other reaction says, “We don't need any more of this kind of legalism. What people need to hear about is God's grace!”
So which is it?
Sin, from my perspective, is one of the most misunderstood subjects in the Bible. And this lack of understanding has polarized the church here in the U.S. We have even coined derogatory terms like “legalism” and “hyper‐grace” to use against each other.
On the one side, it's a weapon I can use to beat up on me or anybody else—whoever happens to be misbehaving. And doing so will get me accused, by the opposition, of being caught up in legalism.
On the other side, it's a word I can't bring up in a gathering of people who believe that God's grace has made all things permissible. Being associated with this group will get me accused, by the opposition, of being caught up in hyper‐grace.
I am convinced both camps are severely over‐reacting with what they believe about sin.
What if sin is separating me from the abundant life Jesus came to give me?
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10 NKJV)
What if sin is drawing me into the stealing, killing, and destroying instead of drawing me into the good times I'm expecting of it?
There's two ways to read Psalm 37:4.
One way believes that giving me the desires of my heart is giving me what I want. And the other way believes that giving me the desires of my heart is giving me what God wants.
Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. (Psalm 37:3–5 NKJV)
I've made up my mind about this choice.
I want what God wants—way more than I want what I want. Oh, I still want things apart from God. But they are fast losing their appeal.
As long as I want what God wants, I will never see sin as something I want—but can't have.
And as long as I want what God wants, I will realize that His grace empowers me to conquer the sin that seems to have control over me.
Have a good day,