I’m starting a new study today that talks about something that, although I haven’t necessarily put much thought to it before, I have noticed it – the fact that there is a blatant paradox in the Bible. This seemingly contradictory concept is this:
We are supposed to live a certain way and be obedient to God’s commands. But at the same time, God is a forgiving God, and when we screw up (as we all do), His grace covers our sins and it’s as if we never did it.
How can that be? We’re supposed to try and live up to God’s standard, and when we don’t (because we never do…), God’s justice and holiness causes His wrath to be against us. Our actions put us at enmity with God. But at the same time, His grace, love, and mercy keep us from being consumed by His wrath, and saves us from ourselves. How can both of these be true? They can’t, unless they happen to be true of a perfect, limitless God.
A former Sunday school teacher of mine likes to relay a story he heard Christian comedian Mike Warnke tell. In the story, Mike was talking to a drug addict once about Christ, and the addict told Mike that he wanted to become a Christian, but that he needed to get cleaned up first. He wanted to “get his sins together,” to borrow the phrase from the Lecrae song. But Mike explained to him that to do that would be like getting cleaned up to take a bath – because that’s what Christianity is: getting clean before God. This is a great story that really shows off God’s grace – if we wait to get cleaned up before we come to God, we’ll never come to God (because we’ll never get clean enough). So He has provided a way for us to get cleaned up through Jesus. At the same time, I know that to continue living in sin after accepting Christ would not be acceptable (“No one who lives in him [Christ] keeps on sinning.” – 1 John 3:6). There must be some way that these concepts can be balanced so that we are living both in God’s grace and according to His truth. It must be possible – the early Church was able to do it. In Acts 4:32-33, speaking of the early church, it says “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.” The Apostles testified to the truth, and God’s grace was on them all. They were able to balance truth and grace.
Jesus was able to balance grace and truth perfectly, and the world saw God in Him. The early church was able to balance grace and truth, and the world was able to see Christ in them. The purpose of this new study will be to help me develop the ability to balance these character traits of God in my own life, and hopefully by doing so, I’ll be able to shine the light of Christ to the world as well.