Many pastors are afraid of the grace message; they feel that if you tell people that nothing they can do would make God love them less that people will use grace as an excuse to go out and live a life full of sin. Legalistic preachers say, “Grace is no license to sin,” but I like to say, “Fear of sin is no license to stop preaching grace.” The last time I checked, the whole world is already sinning without a license. Preaching the Law does not keep man from sin, because the Law has no power over sin. The Law reveals sin, but does not cure it.
One pastor told me, “If I thought I was free from the Law, people would be horrified at the things I would do.” He felt like the only thing keeping him from doing wrong is the Law. The problem with this man’s way of thinking is that the Law is a leash that only works for so long.
Imagine a vicious dog. He wants to bite you, but the leash around his neck stops him. If the leash breaks, watch out! However, the same dog will allow his owner to pet him. In fact, the dog turns over and presents his soft belly to be scratched. Why? Because the dog loves his master. The Law can, for a time, prevent you from doing wrong, but grace is a much better deterrent. The pastor I referred to had a heart problem, not a grace problem. Grace, properly preached, actually gives us the heart desire to do what is right.
The more time you spend with Jesus, the more you want to do what is right. Imagine, what would happen if Jesus was physically present with you in your everyday life? If He was walking beside you at the grocery store, would you be tempted to shoplift? Would being with Jesus make you want to cheat on your spouse? No!
Look at what happened when Zacchaeus encountered Jesus. He promised to make restitution to all those he had stolen from. Being with Jesus made him a better person. The more grace you experience, the better you will live your life. Grace is not an excuse for you to sin, grace is actually the motivation that keeps you from sinning.
Under grace, you can do anything you “want to.” However, grace gives you a new “want to.” You are not free to do whatever you please, but you are free to please God. As Paul said, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (1 Corinthians 10:23).
Preaching more of the Law is not the solution to sin. Many preachers who have preached the Law the strongest have been caught sinning themselves. The solution to sin is to preach more grace. The more people know about Jesus, the less likely they are to sin.
Preaching grace makes people want to stay away from sin. When you know that you are righteous, the desire to sin disappears. The more righteousness conscious you are, the less you will want to sin. When righteousness is preached correctly, it motivates people to live better lives. As Paul said, “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin” (1 Corinthians 15:34).
People who have truly been touched by grace no longer want to sin. It is like a man who has broken his leg. Just because he finds a doctor who can heal his broken leg does not mean that he rushes out to break it again. Instead he remembers the pain he felt when it was broken. Grace is the heart of the Christian message. If you stop preaching grace because you are scared of sin, you have missed the entire point of the good news.