Grace is not “overlooking sin”


There is so much confusion today about grace.  One of the most common misunderstandings is that grace means “overlooking sin.”  Many think this is how God deals with people and their sin.  They think that He is somehow able to love and relate by turning a blind eye to sin; that He is somehow able to not see what others see so glaringly.  The fact that people believe this shows up in their conversations.  They use “grace” in the same way as they refer to people in their life.

  • I didn’t do well on the project; I hope they’ll show me grace!
  • They broke the rules; but I plan to show them grace.
  • I hope God will show me some grace after the week I’ve had!

While these may be the way we use them in conversation, they are not consistent with the Scripture’s definition and application of grace.

Grace is not overlooking sin. 

It is not a soft view of sin.  It is not the ability to look at the positive instead of the negative.  It is not just patience until we learn to do better.  It is not just love while we learn.  It is something of far greater worth and wonder.

Grace is the fullness of God’s heart of love expressed to us while we were still sinners.  God demonstrated that love by sending His Son to the cross to pay for those sins.  There He faced undeserved cruelty, brutality, and death.  He had done no wrong yet out of love, He bore the cost of sin in His body.

Grace is not overlooking sin.

Grace saw the ugliness of man’s disobedience and sin.  Grace didn’t turn away.  Grace saw every possible hurt, tyranny, and injustice of man. Grace didn’t overlook.  Grace took sin’s cost upon itself.  Grace showed its greatness in the cross.  Grace bled.  Grace cried out to the Father.  Grace gave forgiveness.

Grace also expressed itself in one other way.   Grace gave righteousness.  To those who receive the grace and favor of God demonstrated through Jesus Christ, they are not just forgiven.  They are made completely righteous, holy, without fault, and without blame.  Grace removes what I never could – my guilt.  Grace gives me what I could never gain – holiness.  And it comes all by and only by faith.  That is staggering.

Grace is not overlooking sin.

When I talk with people, I want them to know the greatness of grace.  I want them to experience the wonder of what it provides for them in spite of their sin and while they were still in sin.  No matter what they have done, forgiveness and righteousness has already been accomplished.  Their sin wasn’t overlooked.  It was paid for.  It was removed.

The demand for perfection was fulfilled by Christ.  The demand for perfection is removed by Christ.  The demand for payment was fulfilled by Christ.  There is now no requirement to live perfectly, and no need to spend the rest of their life trying to pay God back.  To do either of those would be to diminish grace and cause Christ to be of no profit to them.  Grace frees us from past guilt and from future pressure.

Grace is not overlooking sin.

When we show grace to others, we don’t do so by overlooking sin.  We do show by showing them the same kind of love and grace that God showed them and us.  We speak truthfully about their sin.  We speak truthfully about what it cost.  We speak truthfully about what we have because of the cross – full forgiveness.  We speak truthfully about what is now available to us because of the resurrection – full righteousness.

If grace demands anything, it demands that we receive it completely by faith.  It demands that we humble ourselves to receive what is overwhelming, challenging, and staggering.

This is grace. 

I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And that life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself on my behalf.  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness is through law, then Christ died without cause.  Galatians 2:20-21

Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy of punishment, the one who has trampled the Son of God, and who has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?  Hebrews 10:29

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5 responses to “Grace is not “overlooking sin”

  1. Dear Brian
    Grace never condemns, but always speak the truth in love. Honesty in my eyes is much more preferable than dishonest friendliness.

  2. Good word, Brian. We, as grace givers, acknowledge the sin in our own lives and can declare it in others, without condemning. So we share that while, “Yes, that action was selfish, harmful, etc., we can acknowledge that it WAS wrong and now because Christ covered the punishment for that sinfulness, we can go forth with a “change of mind” (repentance) concerning that wrong. It is so much easier to change or ways knowing that God has forgiven through Christ and corrects us to righteousness through His immeasurable love.

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