2 Corinthians 5.21
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Keep in mind that while grace is free, it is also very costly. It is free to us in the sense that we cannot earn it, but it cost God the life of His Son. We must understand this. To talk about God’s grace as His kindness toward us without understanding the sacrifice He made is to miss something profoundly important to the Christian faith.
Embedded deeply within the word “grace” is what it cost God to offer it to us. Paul gives us a sense of this in the 2 Corinthians passage quoted above.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2.24)
Grace is also costly to us. Receiving God’s grace in Christ requires giving up our old self-oriented life and living new life in Christ. Scripture is clear. We must die to the old life. We must turn away from (what scripture calls repentance) those things that are not pleasing to God.
Jesus clearly communicated the message of repentance to his disciples: “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Mt.16.24-26)
In his classic book The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned against what he called cheap grace. He wrote: “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”
What we need, Bonhoeffer said, is costly grace. “Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.'”
Grace is not and never should be an excuse for sin.
The Lord is calling.