I hold to radical, outrageous, shocking, scandalous, limitless grace. I believe there is no other kind of grace.
But whenever I teach or write about this sort of grace, it is almost guaranteed that someone will object by saying, “So are you saying that we can just go sin all we want?”
They are referring, of course, to the statement in Romans 6:1 where a person objects to Paul’s teaching about grace in exactly the same way. And Paul’s answer, of course, is “God forbid!”
Can I sin all I want?
In the past, I have responded similarly as Paul. I say “No, of course not!”
Then I go on to explain that just as obedience does nothing to help us earn or keep eternal life, sin does nothing to cause us to lose it or prove we never had it. ⇦ Tweet that!
The reason God doesn’t want us to sin is because sin damages us.
(By the way, if you have a presentation of the Gospel which never gets the Romans 6:1 objection, then I submit to you that you are probably not teaching the same Gospel Paul was. If, after teaching about grace, no one says to you, “So are you saying I can just sin all i want?” then you probably have not taught grace. I call this question the Grace litmus test.)
But this past week I was talking to someone about grace, and they objected with the grace litmus test, and I don’t know what happened, but I sighed out of exasperation and decided to give a different answer than the one I had always given before.
The man said to me, “So are you saying I can just go sin all I want?”
And I smiled and said, “Yep. If that’s what you want to do, go right ahead.”
I got the “Deer in the headlights” look back from him. I think he had heard rumors that my type of theology existed, but he had never met anyone who was so willing to give him a license to sin as I had just done.
So yes, in a way, grace is a license to sin.
He started getting huffy with me, and tried to show that my response to him was different than what Paul said in Romans 6:1, and how therefore my understanding of grace different from that of Paul and so on…
But the more he preached at me the more convinced I became of what I had said out of exasperation.
Grace allows you to sin all you want … if that’s really what you want
If you really understand grace, and if you really understand God, and if you really understand God’s love for you, and after understanding all this, you really want to go sin, then be my guest, go right ahead.
Although grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lust (Titus 2:12), grace also allows you to go sin all you want … if that is really what you want. ⇦ Tweet that!
Let me put it another way.
If I told my daughters that I loved them completely, and that no matter what they did, I would always love them, forgive them, and be willing to die for them, and if, after I told them this, one of my daughters looked at me and said, “So I can just go stick my hand in the blender and you will still love me?” I would look at her a little strangely and say, “Well … yes … if that’s really want you want to do, go ahead. But know that if you do that, it’s going to be extremely painful. I will, of course, pull your hand out of the blender and rush you to the hospital to stop the bleeding and rescue what I can of your hand. But no matter what, I will still love you and cherish you as my daughter.”
This is what Paul means in Romans 6 when he responds with “God Forbid!” He is not saying, “No, you cannot!” but rather, “Why would you want to?”
You see, sin doesn’t stop God from loving us, nor does it stop God from doing everything He can to rescue us from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin. Sin definitely doesn’t prove that we were never His son or daughter to begin with.
No, sin hurts us. It cuts us. It ruins us. Sin destroys our relationships, our health, our finances, our marriages, our jobs, our longevity, our emotions, our psyche.
Asking the question “So I can just go sin all I want?” simply shows that you do not fully understand the love of God, the grace of God, or even God Himself! It also reveals that you do not understand the devastating and destructive consequences of sin.
Asking the question, “So I can just go sin all I want?” reveals that you don’t understand how painful sin can be.
Asking the question “So I can just go sin all I want?” is like asking, “So I can take this knife and stab it into my leg?” … Yes, if that really what you want to do, go right ahead.