Someone has written:
“May we never confuse grace as the removal of personal responsibility for our choices.”
The writer is right, we should never confuse Grace with responsibility for our personal choices, because Grace has nothing to do with our personal choices but is all about God’s choice to rescue us from our sin.
Grace is nothing to do with what we do, but all about what God has done for us. God knows we had absolutely no hope of saving ourselves so He came to save us.
In the same way God knows we have no hope of being righteous our selves, so He supernaturally imputed us with His righteousness.
This is not the kind of righteousness we can achieve by our own good works – this is a righteousness distinctive to God – perfect, pure and holy.
This is why Isaiah was so ecstatic:
“I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God, for He has draped me in a robe of His righteousness.” (61:10)
It’s true that if we make the wrong personal choices in life we will suffer the earthly consequences.
If we make the wrong personal choices in life we will not face eternal, spiritual consequences, because Christ suffered those consequences for us, on the cross.
The writer of Present Truth magazine puts it like this:
“Paul says no one can become just in God’s sight by his own performance, and he uses the future tense: no one will ever be considered justified on the basis of his own life. The reason is clear:
“All have sinned and continue to fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace.”
So, yeah, sure, we and others around us will suffer human consequences if we make irresponsible choices. Yet even if we make the right choices we can never attain the level of righteousness God requires.
If I believe I have any part to play in my righteousness myself I am, literally, ‘self’ righteous.
God knows we could never, ever, ever reach His standard of righteousness by our good deeds (which are like filthy rags in comparison) and so He has given us HIS righteousness as a free gift.
Grace doesn’t depend on our choices at all, but is given freely, and we are justified not by what we do, but through our faith.
I’ll end with another quote from Present Truth magazine:
“As the believer looks away from self to Christ and rejoices in what He has done for him and what He is to him, the Spirit of God will live in his heart and continue to transform his life. But if the believer begins to make his experience the center of his concern, the Christian faith is lost.”
So let’s take our eyes off of our selves and our own experience, and look to Christ, for:
“How much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of Grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life?”