Published by DonDavidson on

Christians talk a lot about God’s mercy and grace, and with good reason. We all need that mercy and grace, because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”[1]

But Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book The Cost of Discipleship, pointed out that God’s grace does not give us license to behave any way we wish. Bonhoeffer called that “cheap grace.” It is akin to the heresy of antinomianism, which is the belief that Christians are free from all moral law and can disregard it with impunity. The Bible says otherwise.

The belief that we are saved by God’s grace, rather than by our own merits or good works, had no greater champion than the apostle Paul. Yet he was nevertheless a fierce opponent of antinomianism:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? Far from it! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?[2]

Therefore sin is not to reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the parts of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead, and your body’s parts as instruments of righteousness for God.[3]

In John’s Gospel, Jesus said that one test of a person’s love for him is obedience: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”[4] And only a little later in that chapter, he re-emphasizes the point: “The one who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me.”[5]

Jesus said the most important commandments were to love God above all else, and to love other people as much as we love ourselves.[6] The Greek for “love” in this context—as in most of the New Testament—is “agape.” This kind of love is not a feeling, but a choice, a decision. It is selfless, self-giving love that seeks the best for the person being loved, without regard for that person’s merit or lack thereof. (For more on agape love, click here.)

Jesus wants, and expects, us to display this kind of love toward everyone: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.”[7]

That doesn’t mean we are to love only those people we like, or only those people who look like us or act like us or believe like us. It means we must be kind to everyone, without exception—including people we don’t like, people who are mean to us, people who do bad things, and even people who hate us.

If you are not trying to do that, then you are not being obedient to God and to Jesus Christ. There must have been people like that in Jesus’ own time, because I can almost hear the exasperation in his voice when he said, “Now why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”[8]

So we should do what he said. As the song says: “Trust and Obey.”

[1]. Romans 3:23

[2]. Romans 6:1-2

[3]. Romans 6:12-13

[4]. John 14:15

[5]. John 14:21

[6]. Matthew 22:34-40

[7]. John 13:34-35

[8]. Luke 6:46


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