Dear Beachside Family and Friends,
It's been thirty years since I received a citation for speeding. I was traveling westbound on I-10 near Wellborn Florida when I was pulled over by a State Trooper. He asked me to come to his vehicle and look at his radar display, which read 70 mph. The only problem was that I was driving in an 55 mph zone. I was caught breaking the law, and the result could be costly. While waiting on the officer to run my license and insurance information, my mind became occupied with the age - old question: would he enforce the law, or would grace prevail?
Every born-again believer has had an encounter with God's grace. The Bible makes this clear in Ephesians 2:8, where it says "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God..." We could not meet the standards of God's law, so He offered His Own Son Jesus on the cross, whose blood paid the price for our failure. When we place our faith in Jesus, God's grace avails for us, and we are saved from eternity in hell. Thank God for His grace!
Grace is fundamental to the Father's eternal plan for us, and we must understand how it operates. There are many, even those who attend church, who believe that the grace of God covers all their actions in this life, even willful rebellion against His Word. It is true that our Heavenly Father has extended grace to the inhabitants of the earth, and that the institution of the New Covenant enables Him to withhold judgment for the sinful actions of man. If we lived in Old Testament times, many common, acceptable sins in our society would be punished by death. The prophet Ezekiei wrote “Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die." (Ezekiel 18:4) Murder, adultery, homosexuality, and even rebellion against parents were death penalty offenses under the Old Covenant. When individuals were convicted of these and many other acts, death was exacted without mercy or grace.
Thank God for the grace given to us in these New Testament times! Offenses worthy of death are covered by His grace and mercy, and His judgment does not fall on us; yet as wonderful as God's grace is, it does not prevent all consequences for acts of sin in this life. While the grace of God avails for us, there is one at work in the earth who mercilessly enforces consequences for sin. His name is Satan. If we continue to knowingly sin against God and His Word, Satan uses our rebellion as his legal right to destroy our lives. He has no grace whatsoever, and thrills to exact the penalty for continued sin. We can actually remove ourselves from the covering of the grace of God, and let the devil run rampant in our lives. As Hebrews 10:26 tells us "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins"
"Progressive" society has accepted sinful lifestyles as a normal state without consequence. Some Christians even cite God's grace as a reason to continue in immoral lifestyles that are contrary to His Word. They point to Jesus' statement to the woman convicted of adultery in John 8:10-11: "When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you." Many stop reading there, and declare that since Jesus did not demand the enforcement of the penalty, that the grace of God will cover continued sin. They leave out the next few words where Jesus said "go and sin no more.”
Grace abounds for those that have committed acts of adultery, homosexuality, thievery, murder, dishonesty, and rebellion against God, but there is a difference between committing a sin, and continuing in sin. Paul addressed this to the church in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. When Paul said "such were some of you", he points out that that immoral lifestyles should be things of the past, not practiced continually by those who hope for the covering of God's grace. God loves us, forgives us, and wants us to be free, but Satan exploits those who rebel against God's Word, keeping them in bondage.
While I sat on the side of I-10 thirty years ago, I was hoping the trooper would give me a warning and tell me " I don't condemn you: go your way, and speed no more." I didn't hold out much hope though, because I knew he was looking at my record and would find previous citations. Because I continued to speed even after previous tickets, I received another one, resulting in a fine and traffic school. The consequences of my continued rebellion against the laws of Florida moved me out of the covering of grace. I have learned what Jesus meant what said when he said "go and sin no more." Thirty years ago I threw out my radar detector, and set my cruise control in compliance with the speed limit. I finally understood what grace was all about. Since then, I have gone my way, and I speed no more!