Living Under Life-Giving Grace
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness(Romans 6:16 ESV).
How long did you make it this morning before your first sin? Had you finished your shower or your first cup of coffee? Did you survive your commute without sinning? If you made it through the morning gauntlet, chances are your first interpersonal interactions offered plenty of opportunities to screw up: cruel thoughts, impatient words, gossip, slander, proud boasting. You can feel like a failure before the day even begins. But in Christ, you have “been set free from sin.” You are not under the law—you are under grace.
When you live under the law, you can be barraged by messages of condemnation: Loser! You blew it again. You’re such a failure. You never measure up, and you never will. Those messages come from the enemy of your soul, Satan, dubbed “the accuser of our brothers” (Revelation 12:10). When you listen to his lies, you'll grow discouraged and even despondent.
The purpose of the law was to reveal sin (Romans 7:7), and that is all it can ever do. Without the law, you would be oblivious to God’s standards of right and wrong—the law instructs you and exposes the sin in your life. But hear this: None of God’s children are under the law. All who know Him through Christ are under grace. God has immersed you in a system of grace so when He sees you, He sees what He is changing you to be and not what you are.
Dispense with the notion that God is looking from heaven with a furrowed brow and clenched teeth, muttering, What is wrong with you?! Why can’t you get it? He has placed you under His system of grace, so when you fail you can hear His liberating truth, I love you; I forgive you. Get up and keep trying. I will help you!
Not only does this passage negate the bad news—you are a loser: false!—it also delivers refreshing, life-giving news—in Christ, you are embraced as a child of God: true! Since the first day you became His child, your “stock” has never risen in God’s estimation. In fact, your value never rises or falls, because it has nothing to do with you. Your worth in God’s eyes relates to His grace through Jesus Christ and the fact that He chose to set His love upon you.
What liberating news: “you are not under law but under grace” (6:14)! When you fall, get up. When you fail, don’t wallow in your failure, crushed by the weight of the law. God is transforming you.
You're not in charge of your own transformation; He is (Philippians 1:6). And His indwelling Spirit is empowering you to live it out, giving you strength for today. So when you feel discouraged, don’t quit. You are under His life-giving grace. Live like it.
What messages does Satan use to discourage and defeat you? In contrast, when God looks at you, what does He see?
In what area of your life do you need to live under His grace?
God of grace, thank You that I don’t live under the law. I can hardly make it through my morning without sinning, let alone live up to Your high standards. The law shows me my sin and reminds me how desperately I need You. Thank You that You fulfilled the law for me. Because of Your Son Jesus, I live under grace. Please continue to transform me. Give me grace enough for today. And when I fall, Lord, help me dust myself off, get back up, and live in His victory. In Jesus’ name, amen.