police-stop of red sports car in desert

Grace Is Not License

Moses, the leader of God’s people, was not a stranger to opposition, having faced off with Pharoah 10 times before being given permission to take the people out of Egypt.  Sadly, opposition continued in the desert with friendly fire from his own brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, who felt they were equal to Moses as spiritual leaders.  Following that confrontation was an attack from a Levite named Korah and 250 community leaders who also jealously contested Moses’ leadership. God was not pleased, and in the first instance, confirmed His choice by striking Miriam with leprosy, asking Moses to intercede for her healing. Because Korah and his followers had witnessed this and yet chose to rebel, God was harsher in His discipline.  He caused the ground to split open and swallow Korah with his family and possessions, while sending fire to consume the 250 community leaders. The ante was upped and the Israelites accused Moses of killing God’s people which was met with a plague that killed 14,700 people before Aaron could intervene.

While God’s actions could be seen as harsh, His grace was very much a part of His discipline, as He did not wipe out the nation as He had righteously threatened to do.  The rebellion against Moses was actually rebellion against God that deserved death.  Two opposites, the holiness of God and the unholiness of man, repulsed each other; common ground was non-existent, there could be no blending, like oil and water.  So, the Israelites’ time in the desert was meant to be instructive of God’s nature in order to move them toward His holiness, as God could not negate Himself by becoming unholy in order to meet them.  Thus, we have God’s repeated admonition: “Be holy, as I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44) Understanding and practicing holiness was the only way for relationship between God and man.

We are blessed in the aftermath of the cross to have Jesus intervene for us. It is only through the atoning work of His shed blood that our Holy God can see us as righteous or holy. That makes it all the more disturbing that we, the church seem to get by with many things today that carried a death sentence in Moses’ time.  We distort God’s Law to justify same-sex marriages and numerous genders, touting man’s version of love and acceptance, while rejecting God’s love in the wisdom of creating us male and female.  We see Christian leaders attacking each other over the interpretation of scripture, having allowed knowledge to puff up rather than humbly seeking the guidance of Holy Spirit. Recently, the President of the United States, claiming to be a Christian, chastised the Supreme Court during his State of the Union address for upholding the constitutional freedom to life that originated with our founding fathers’ belief in God as the Creator.  Declaring murder as a “right” while dramatically invoking God’s name to reinforce that lie, as the President did, is unconscionable.

These examples all treat contemptuously the grace of Jesus’ sacrifice which we neither earned nor deserved. This is a small sampling of the way we arrogantly flaunt our preference for depravity because we are so wise in our own eyes and so self-righteous.  Galatians 6:7 warns, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”  We have shamefully taken God’s amazing grace for granted, thinking it a license to do as we please because we will be forgiven. That is rebellion, plain and simple. Hebrews 6:4-6 is eye-opening scripture that begs a response: “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace.”

Now is an excellent time to repent for treating our Holy God with contempt in ignoring, rationalizing, or maligning His Word and/or idly standing by as Truth is being replaced with lies.  Many are in need of prayer, starting with those who marginalize the grace of their salvation, using it as license to justify their positions and behavior. “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)