Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

ID-100305411Tom wanted out of his marriage. When I asked him why, his answer was a bit startling. “I know I should try to work out my marital problems, but I just don’t want to anymore. Don’t you think God has enough grace to cover me here? If I leave my wife and then say I am sorry, that should do it. I can move on with a better life.”

This application of grace is distorted. It is what German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, coined “cheap grace. ” Bonhoeffer defined it as, “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.”

Bonhoeffer was addressing an attitude of those who want the benefits of Christianity without the cost. It is an attitude that we unfortunately see all too often in our culture. People want God’s blessing but they don’t want to pay the price by being obedient to His Word. Instead, we want to go our own way, make our own rules and put God in a box that works for us. Bonhoeffer talked about justifying sin by counting on God’s grace to forgive it. And this is exactly what Tom is doing. He knows God’s grace is freely given, but doesn’t recognize the cost of that grace and how it impacts his life and choices. Tom is using grace to justify his actions.

None of us are beyond needing grace. We are all sinners and have come short of the glory of God. But how we deal with sin matters. We are to receive God’s grace with a repentant heart. Sin requires confession with true repentance, a turning away from what is wrong. It is not a license to willfully sin. And this is what is in Ton’s heart. He is trying to justify his sin and keep God in the picture.

So the next time you are tempted to cheapen God’s grace, consider the cost of that grace–our Savior’s life. And like Tom, it is not a justification for leaving a marriage or doing what we want and then counting on God to get in line with our ideas and plans.

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