What a marvelous privilege that God so richly gives us His grace to enjoy!
However, where there’s a human involved, error is soon to follow. We have this broken habit of going into excess. It seems almost impossible to stay balanced. Or, to put it in terms of rural driving, we struggle to stay out of the ditches. We should drive straight down the middle.
Grace is no exception. The history of Christianity contains many waves of grace abuse. Yes, I’ve sometimes sinned by taking His grace for granted.
So the question I’ve been pondering is this. How can Christians abuse God’s grace, and what does that look like?
1) Christians abuse God’s grace by mischaracterizing God.
Perhaps you’ve got this made-up version of who He is in your mind that’s not accurate. The character of Christ is the nature of God. Jesus says, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.” And again He says, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”
Don’t believe the gobbledygook that your mind has made up or that this world has told you about God. Grab ahold of His Book, find a nook, and take a look. Start with the Gospels and learn the nature of our loving, forgiving, and holy God. Understand the power of His grace as you behold His goodness and severity.
You’re too smart to believe what other people want to pressure you into believing. You owe it to yourself to find out for yourself. Whatever you do, don’t abuse His grace by failing to get to know Him for yourself.
2) Christians abuse God’s grace by misunderstanding their own nature.
I know this one probably doesn’t pertain to you. It’s for another reader in another galaxy, far, far away from this one. But would you believe some Christians think they are so holy that they are beyond sinning? They’re deceived.
Ask the people you live with. They know the truth about you.
As long as you are alive in this earth suit, called a human body, you have the potential to sin. But you don’t have to sin against Him willfully. Those who are in Christ have new desires along with their new nature. They do not want to sin against their loving Father. They draw back at the thought of trampling over Christ’s shed blood. Grieving the Holy Spirit would violate their soul’s conviction as a child of God.
But don’t be duped into abusing God’s grace. On this earth, you’ll never grow so sanctified that you’ve lost the ability to sin. You’ll always be a child of God who is dependent on God’s grace to help you live an emotionally mature Christian life.
3) Christians abuse God’s grace by practicing unforgiveness.
Now we’re finding where the rubber meets the road. This subject could be the most under-taught doctrine of practical Christianity in many circles. Even I’m not going to give you all that I could on this subject in this small space.
But know this. You’re never more like God than when you practice forgiveness. You’re never more ungodly than when you walk in unforgiveness.
Please, Christian, don’t abuse God’s grace by holding a grudge and refusing to forgive what appears unforgivable.
4) Christians abuse God’s grace by presumptuous sin.
How does this happen? Well, to presume means you have some beforehand foreknowledge. A presumption is different from an assumption. When you presume something, you do so with confidence based on experience, but assuming means, you have no idea, proof, or probable reason for an expected outcome. What’s with the English lesson?
As a Christian, you’re undoubtedly aware of God’s gracious forgiveness. You know it’s based on His faithfulness and justice. You know that justice was satisfied with the sinless blood of our Savior. But you’re no dummy because you also know that willful sin is a transgression against His loving grace.
Presumptuous sin is when you know it’s wrong, but you do it anyway. You’ve self-justified with a thought process that says something like this. I can’t help myself. I’ll pray about this later, and God will forgive me.
Friend, the same grace that provides for your forgiveness is present before you presumptuously sin. Listen to His Spirit and let God’s grace steer you away. A growing Christian realizes God’s grace in action before having to confess and repent about the same thing repeatedly.
5) Christians abuse God’s grace by practicing a minimal form of Christianity.
That is a sad reflection on the American Church. Too many people want to identify with Christ but do not want to follow Him. They want just enough of His grace to get them to Heaven, but not enough to change their lives and forsake their sinfulness. This nominal form of following Jesus is less practical and personal. It’s more ideological and intellectual.
Those in this minimal and modern realm are probably social media Christians. Even worse, they could be living a life of duplicity. They pretend to be Christian in some circles of life, but in reality, large areas of their life are floating away from His gracious discipline. Just like some choose to become a fan of a specific sports team, they’ve added Jesus to the collection of stuff in life that they like.
Friend, you can do better than practicing minimal Christianity. Go all-in for a maximum relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Fully surrender to His grace and let Christ become your all in all.
6) Finally, I believe Christians abuse God’s grace by ignoring the Holy Spirit.
He wants to change you. But you resist Him. You look at others comparatively and think, “well, I’m better than they are.” Or, “at least I go to church.” We grieve the Holy Spirit when we insist on verbal comparisons.
Would you please stop resisting the most significant good you could do for the world? That good can only be accomplished when you allow the Holy Spirit to use His Holy Scriptures to change you from the inside out. Your thinking must be changed by the renewing of your mind. That’s the grace-filled life He wants you to dive into.
Christian, the bottom line is that we misuse God’s grace when we live however we want to. God’s grace is greater than all our sin, but it also teaches us to stay away from sin. Grace is not a license to do whatever, but a teacher to live how we ought to.
I’ll end with a final confession and a bonus for the list. My conviction is that if I sin against my Spirit-filled wife, I’ve abused God’s grace.
But Lord, “I don’t wanna abuse your grace. God I need it every day. It’s the only thing that ever really makes me wanna change.”
Here’s a final note for pastors, preachers, and other Bible teachers. If you see any value in this article, feel free to use it for the glory of God. Many Scriptures are linked, and you can creatively tweak this content while staying true to context. I’ve hammered this out in one sitting, but if you choose to use it in your spoken ministry, please take the time to thoroughly ingest the content and let the Holy Spirit make it yours. Think of this outline as a set of jumper cables that give you a boost. It can get you started and on your way to honoring God.