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 within the church that being “bound by grace” denotes a security that is found only in Christ. The idea of being bound by anything conjures up all sorts of fear and anxiety in people. Within 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 is one they endure or a loved one, the lack of control causes a significant amount of fear and anxiety.
*Certain fears are a result of outside influences that affects the body while other fears less tangible and are harbored within the heart.
Claustrophobia is defined as extreme or irrational fear of confined places. I personally know of many who suffer from the dilemma of uncontrollable anxiety that arises when the space in which they exist is limited. No matter how irrational the fear, the conditioned response overwhelms the person affected by the malady.
The paradox of being confined or limited by God’s grace brings a perspective that can bring greater understanding of the freedom that is in Christ alone.
Grace represents freedom from the judgement of sin, so how can grace then hedge a person in, both behind and before?
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 considering the notion of being set free from bondage, the principles at work are in regards to the work of sin and death. The freedom God’s people experience when they accept the love of God is the release of guilt they once were subjected to under judgement.
Grace through faith is the gift 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.“
The one who has chosen to be bound to righteousness, has decided to walk a different path–God’s path of life.
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 only takes one act of offense to create this separation and it is God’s moral law that defines the 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 the sinner into a position of offense toward God, they become enemies of His throne when they walk contrary to His law. Sin keeps it’s offender held captive toward death. The path of sin leads to ruin and no measure of goodness can change that course.
2. To be enslaved to sin is to be bound to the offense, and no measure of good works can change the offense. Not only do the consequences of sin culminate in the reality of Hell, 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 God or know God. 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 darkness 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 it’s conviction, it is a cruel taskmaster that reminds us daily of our failings. Instead of finding a cure, the path of darkness only leads it’s captives further down the road of false promises and lifeless hope. For those who choose a life apart from Christ, satan has become their taskmaster and he is cruel.
Slaves of Righteousness:
1. To be enslaved to righteousness is to be subjected to God’s standard of Holiness. Before salvation sinners were subjected to the law of sin and death. It is the aimless walk in darkness that relegates a sinner to the consequences of a hopeless path. In Christ, there is hope now and hope to come because God’s way is straight and defined. Psalm 16:11 “You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”
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 and they know God. 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 sinful 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 once the sinner has been relieved of their guilt. Believers don’t have to prove their worth, they don’t have to earn their way to Heaven, nor do they need to reconcile their past sins—all that Jesus has done is sufficient.
The riches of God’s love has been earned by Jesus upon the cross. It is His standard of righteousness His people are subjected to and it was by His sacrifice they are absolved of 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 the believer not their own, they have been bought with a price. Spirit filled people are God’s people and He will keep them by His power until the curse of sin is gone and they are united fully in Him. The path isn’t guaranteed to be easy, but the reward is well worth the journey.
Matthew 7:14 “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
To be kept by God is to be lead, strengthened, and empowered daily by His Spirit. The believer doesn’t serve a God that is far off, He is actively involved in every aspect of their life.
To embrace the identity of knowing and trusting Christ binds the redeemed to Him like a bride, and the Bridegroom will bring His freedom when He returns.