Bound by Grace

Romans 5:1,2 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

There is a common axiom in christian circles that uses the term of being bound by grace. The idea of being bound by anything conjures up all sorts of fear and anxiety in people. Within my work in health care, anxiety is a constant in the lives of people who have felt vulnerable in the midst of illness. Regardless of whether the illness they endure is life threatening or not, the idea that a process is in place that cannot be controlled causes a significant amount of consternation.

*Some fears are a result of outside influences affecting the body while other fears are within.

Claustrophobia is defined as extreme or irrational fear of confined places. I personally know of many who suffer from this dilemma of uncontrollable anxiety that arises when the space in which they exist seems limiting. No matter how irrational the fear is, the conditioned response overwhelms the person affected by the malady.

Now, applying this same thought of being confined or limited by God’s grace gives a perspective that might influence us toward a greater understanding of our relationship to Him.

A Revulsion

I suppose the idea of grace which represents freedom from the judgement of sin when coupled with the idea of bondage cause a reaction that seems counter intuitive.

Paul in his letter to the Galatians reminded them to “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

When we consider the idea of being set free from bondage, the principles at work are in regards to the work of sin and death. The freedom we experience when we have accepted the love of God is the release of guilt that we were subjected to under judgement.

Grace through faith is the sudden release of God’s favor to those who believe.

So how can it be binding?

Romans 6:17,18 “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”

Slaves to Someone

Regardless of whether you live in sin or under grace, you are bound to something. You may ask, in what ways are we bound? A brief survey of scripture brings to light the dilemma we each must face.

Slaves of sin:

1. To be enslaved by sin is to be separated from God. It really only takes one act of offense to create this separation and it is God’s moral law that defines that offense. 1 John 3:4 “Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God.” Sin places us in a position of offense toward God, we become enemies of His throne when we walk contrary to His law.

2. To be enslaved to sin is to be bound to spiritual death. Not only do the consequences of sin culminate in Hell once we are dead, but the position in life for the one bound is to be dead to God’s Spirit. Without His Spirit living in you, you cannot see Him or know Him. Ephesians 2:4,5 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”

3. For those who live in a position of separation it is the the darkness of of sin that keeps the one bound in a position of hopelessness. Ephesians 2:12 “that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” Sin gives no reprieve from the prospect of eternal death, it is a cruel taskmaster that reminds us daily of our failings. Instead of finding a cure, the path of darkness just leads us further down the road with false promises and lifeless hope.

Slaves of Righteousness:

  1. To be enslaved to righteousness is to be subjected to God’s standard of Holiness. Before salvation we were subjected to the law of sin and death. It is the aimless walk in darkness that relegates the sinner to the consequences of a path that has no hope. In Christ, there is hope now and hope to come.
  2. To be enslaved to righteousness is to partake of God’s goodness. You cannot partake of something of which you have no knowledge. You may be affected by God’s goodness, you may taste of His kindness, or you may share in the effects of His work, but you cannot actively participate in the working of His Spirit if His Spirit does not reside in you. For those who have believed and received, the Spirit inhabits His people.

Hebrews 6:4-6 “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age— and then have fallen away—to be restored to repentance, because they themselves are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to open shame.”

3. To be enslaved to righteousness is to be set free from shame. Sin brings with it remorse, it confronts our image of goodness and causes us to see ourselves in light of our nature. When grace abounds, guilt is vanquished. Romans 8:1-2 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set you free from the law of sin and death.”

*Those who are bound by grace are kept by the power of God for salvation. There cannot be condemnation when the onus for forgiveness is given freely. We don’t have to prove our worth, we don’t have to earn our way, nor do we need to reconcile our past sins.

The riches of God’s love have been earned by Jesus upon the cross. It is His standard of righteousness we are subjected to and it was by His sacrifice we are absolved of our guilt.

1 Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

The binding of grace brings peace, it brings security, and it gives a constant reminder that we are now not our own…we are God’s people and He will keep us by His power until the curse of sin is gone and we are united fully in Him.

To be kept by God is to be guided, strengthened, and empowered daily. We don’t serve a God that is far off, He is actively involved in every aspect of our lives.

Embrace the identity you have in Christ and what binds actually brings freedom.

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