GRACE DESPISED

There are two fundamental ways in which Christians despise grace.

We have already seen that grace is disempowered when we as Christians live before God and man as though our salvation depended on our own actions. We have also seen that grace is misinterpreted when it as used an excuse for sin.

In both of these attitudes we also despise grace.

In the former we belittle it, we cast grace aside as an impotent thing that needs to be helped along by our human religious endeavours or our human spirituality; we deem it to be something incapable in and of itself to secure our permanent, present acceptance with God.

In the latter we throw grace in the mud and along with it both our reputation and God’s. This grace which is designed to restore us to God and to glory is used as an excuse, even a motivation, to sin and thereby to live lives that are dishonorable both to ourselves and to God.

There are two parallel levels at which grace is despised by unbelievers who have heard, but not accepted, the Gospel.

Grace is despised when people who have heard and understood the gospel of Jesus Christ deliberately refuse to believe it. Hebrews 10:26-31 is a scathing indictment against everyone who has ‘trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant … and has insulted the Spirit of grace’. To reject this message about the complete and absolute saving power of the blood of the Son of God is to despise grace in a final and fatal way. Where this message of grace is despised, where this grace is rejected, Christ is trampled underfoot and the Spirit who brings this message to us, is insulted. To do so is a dreadful thing, for apart from this grace, this Christ, this message spoken by the Spirit, there can be no forgiveness. This is the ultimate and unforgivable blasphemy [Matthew 12:31,32].

Grace is despised, secondly, when godless people presenting themselves as Christians deliberately pervert the meaning of grace, not simply using grace as an excuse to sin, which some believers wrongly do, but teaching and encouraging sin and thereby ‘denying Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord’ [2Peter 2:1-22; Jude 4].

When grace is thus despised it is an expression of two foundational failures: the failure to really acknowledge that Jesus Christ is God, and the failure to really acknowledge what was actually happening when Jesus Christ died on the cross.

God’s grace, lavished upon those who receive his Son, is utterly dependent on, and an expression of, these two facts: that Jesus Christ is God and therefore deserves and demands our whole-hearted obedience, and that his death is necessary and sufficient to atone for sin, and therefore deserves and demands our undivided trust.

To despise this grace is to effectively announce that Jesus Christ is not God; and to despise this grace is to effectively deny the necessity and the deep meaning of the cross. To despise this grace is to effectively proclaim myself both my own lord and my own savior.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2010