"Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves" The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. One might often hear that grace is just a license to sin. Or, grace is just an excuse to do what you want. It seemed to me that most Christians were unwilling to accept that we now live under grace and that they still prefer to live by the law, and at the very least, subscribe to religiosity as a way of life. I could never understand after I had been set free by God's grace how people could be so opposed to something so very liberating. I used to take offense to comments like those, but it became clear that in essence, those statements are true. However, they are not true for the reasons that I formally knew, but for a reason that I completely has missed altogether.
The statement "Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves", really brought this point home. There is only one true grace, but many interpretations of grace. True grace is given and not taken. The grace we bestow on ourselves is not true grace but often is considered to be. When grace in itself becomes a way of life, a doctrine to uphold, a religion to follow, and a cover for sin, it loses its purity and purpose. That is the grace we give ourselves-disguised as Gods grace. Sometimes it can be very difficult to distinguish between the two. Herein lies the problem
Gods grace has everything to do with our position in Him, our relationship with Him, our salvation in and through Him, our standing before Him, and our identity as new creations in Him. Cheap grace operates not in those things, but in the deceitful workings of a persons behavior. Cheap grace can never accomplish what Gods grace can.
Cheap grace allows you to justify your behavior; Gods grace justifies your person. Cheap grace will center its focus and attention on the "things" of God, and not God Himself. It will focus on "behavior" instead of relationship. It concentrates on a "life-style" instead of a life of obedience. The grace we bestow on ourselves is ultimately self-centered no matter how "Godly" it may appear. So when someone says that grace is just a license to sin, that is correct assessment of cheap grace. Cheap grace is grace that does not require death, that is death to the flesh and the self-life.
Paul himself addressed this very thing in Romans 6:1 "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may abound?" Cheap grace has become a vehicle of Christian complacency and indifference. But make no mistake, if grace appears to be a justification for sin and a covering to hide under, it is not true grace it is cheap grace. The grace we would give ourselves would be a grace that says we can do as we please, for we are forgiven. It says we shouldnt become legalistic like some people who are so concerned about what they are doing or what they have done for Christ. But even that type of thinking misses the mark because it takes the focus off Christ Himself and on to examining ourselves.
What I had failed to recognize was that I too had traded wisdom for understanding and knowledge for guidelines. I understood grace so I then depended on my understanding of "grace" instead of depending on Christ and the wisdom and revelation He gives through communication with Him. I saw grace as a doctrine in which I could live by instead of seeing that I only live, truly live, in Christ. I lacked at times an intimate knowledge of Him as a person, but instead followed the guidelines that "grace" allowed. True grace does clear the path completely for us to have fellowship with Him, it reconciles us, forgives us, makes us clean, makes us children and heirs in Christ. Nothing, absolutely nothing, should ever take the place of Christ Himself, not doctrines of grace, faith, works, salvation, promises, nothing should ever be worshiped, followed, or depended upon other than the person of Christ.
Cheap grace mixes God strengths with ours. It never fully destroys the self-life and in fact, it often enlists it to accomplish what it will. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves and base on our idea of right and wrong. Cheap grace is not concerned with righteousness, but with duty and obligation. True grace is not about us; it is all about God. True grace isnt concerned with right and wrong, but is given because of the righteousness of Christ. True grace is given and can only be appropriated (applied) in our lives through the power and person of Christ. "that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" Romans 5:21.
I pray that we will abide in Christ and live unto Him and not unto ourselves. I pray that we will no longer live under the umbrella of cheap grace but submit ourselves wholly unto Him. He purchased us, His price was costly, His grace cost His Son, and He gives us freely all things in Him, but only IN Him. May our focus be Christ, not doctrine. May we not seek to live a life of good behavior, but instead a life that abides in Christ. May we depend solely on Him for our walk and life as Christians, and focus on Him first and foremost. Only in Him do we live and breathe a true life of grace.
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Section 2: Abide in Christ