Are We To Sin Less to Get More Grace?

Jonathan Edwards “He That Believeth Will be Saved”, Sermons of JE,
115: “We can’t be saved without being good…All whose hearts come to
Christ will be good, and if men aren’t good, their hearts never will
come to Christ…They whose hearts come to Christ, they are joined to
Christ, and so they belong to him and therefore are saved for his
sake.”

Douglas Sweeney, “Justification by Faith Alone?, in Jonathan Edwards
and Justification, ed Josh Moody, 2012, Crossway, p148—-“God
requires all His people to cooperate with Him to increase in
sanctification. They accomplish this, however, as they abide in the
Lord, letting God govern their hearts and bear divine fruit in their
lives. For Edwards, there are levels of grace and laurels for the
godly.”

Romans 6: Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Romans 3: 5 “But if our unrighteousness serves to show the
righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to
inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.”

I know some Calvinists (I was one of them) who think it is enough to
say that God is sovereign and thus the cause of salvation .But the
truth of the gospel is not only God’s sovereignty but also God’s
righteousness. This means that the gospel is not only about the
justification of the elect sinner but also about the justification of
God.

I have no use for the “freewill theodicy”. But that does not mean that I am dismissive of efforts to justify God. To justify God does not of course mean that we make God just. Rather, it means that we declare that God is just.

When God justifies an elect sinner, it’s not only God’s sovereignty
that declares the sinner just. God is justified in justifying the
elect sinner because 1. Christ died because of the imputed guilt of
that elect sinner and 2. God declares individual elect sinners to
legally share in that death. Because of these two facts of history,
God is justified in justifying elect sinners.

It doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t look just. The elect sinners go free. Christ, who did not sin, died. This is why we are tempted to say that the whole thing is only about God’s sovereignty and then tell people to shut their mouths and ask no questions. But the Bible itself does not take that attitude. The Bible tells us how God thinks. The Bible justifies God.

Romans 9 does not only ask: “who are you to talk back to God”. Romans
9 explains that it is inappropriate for that which is made to sit in
negative judgment on the maker. And Romans 3 and 6 deal with the
objection that God justifying sinners will cause sinners to
rationalize their sins, so that they not only say that their sins were predestined but also that they say that more sins result in more
grace.

The Romans 6 answer is that grace is either grace or not. There is not more or less grace, but either grace or no grace. More sin does not get the elect more grace, because all those God justly justifies have all the grace any other elect person has. If you have grace, then you are justified from sin, and if you don’t have grace, you are a sinner “free from righteousness” (6:20).

While unbelievers trust in “God” to help them to sin less, those who
have been delivered to the gospel know that there are only two kind of sinners —guilty sinners and justified sinners .

The theodicy of Romans 3 announces that God is true even if every man
is a liar. We justify God because God has revealed Himself. And God
has revealed that God is more than sovereign. God is Revealed as
Righteous and Just. And God’s word is justified in history by what God did when Christ gave Himself up to death on the cross because of the imputed guilt of the elect.

We were wrong: God was right and God is still right. God prevails, but it is not only a matter of “might makes right” or “sovereignty always wins”. We have no right to make a negative judgment on God, since it is God who will be making a negative judgment on many sinners. But we are called to make a positive rational judgment about God’s justice. As Isaiah 53 explains, the righteous servant will be satisfied. God will be just to Christ. And God is just to justify elect sinners for the sake of Christ.

It is idolatry to only know a God who is sovereign. The true God is
also righteous. It is unbelief and rebellion to deny that God is just. Psalm 51:4-6—“Against you have I sinned and done what is evil, so that you are justified in your words and blameless in your judgment..Behold you delight in truth…”

When we try to say, “well at least our lack of orthodoxy is only
making God look more gracious”, we need to read Romans 3:5—God is the
righteous judge of us. God takes sides with Himself. God takes sides
against sinners. And the only sinners that God justifies are the elect who God has placed into the death of Christ.

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3 Comments on “Are We To Sin Less to Get More Grace?”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    God’s grief at sin

    Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption

    Psalm 78: 40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
    and grieved him in the desert!
    41 They tested God again and again
    and provoked the Holy One of Israel.

    Genesis 6: 5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

    Isaiah 63:10 But they rebelled
    and grieved his Holy Spirit;
    therefore he turned to be their enemy,
    and himself fought against them.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    we can go to the law or to the cross, but not both

    Romans 5:20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

    freedom from the law as the only means of doing good works acceptable to God

    Galatians 5: 18 But if you are led by the Spirit,you are not under the law.

    Galatians 4: 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son,born of woman, born under the law


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