Have you ever thought, “I am going to do what I want to do regardless of the consequences, and later ask for forgiveness?” How did your parents react when you acted that way? What does God think about those kinds of intentions?
Many college students get trapped when they accept a pre-approved credit card that gives them the illusion that it costs them nothing. One young lady did so and thought she could now have the fun that had previously eluded her because she lived on a budget her parents helped her to devise. While she formerly had to say “no” to certain things that she could not afford, she now started picking up the tab for pizza for her and her friends. She felt she had freedom to treat her friends now and then, mistakenly believing that it would not cost her anything. After all, she had a new credit card. The pre-paid calling card or phone that parents give their kids also makes it feel like the service is free when they call home long distance. But someone had to pay for it.
In some places in America, you can actually pay ahead to cover your speeding tickets. You put money on deposit and then can go out and drive faster than the speed limit. When you get pulled over, it is not a big deal because your ticket has already been paid. Of course, some towns and cities many not value a person pre-paying their speeding tickets knowing it could mean more accidents due to speeding violations. I know local economies could benefit from a new revenue stream, but pre-paying speeding tickets seems too dangerous of an idea to consider.
Advertising suggests that pre-pay costs nothing. This illusion can infect our spiritual life as well. Scripture teaches that through God’s grace, we can receive the gift of salvation and the assurance of going to heaven when we die. We often assume that since Jesus did it all for us, we can coast to the finish line without much effort. We forget that our parents taught us, “Garbage in, garbage out.” Or that you can grow in faith or in doubt – whatever you feed grows. We often live by the principle that we can sin a little now and then and later ask for forgiveness. Another way to say it is we can plan to sin, or be lethargic to the demands of Jesus, and fix it up with Him later.
Read Titus 2:11-12. See much wiggle room in those words?
This was a problem for the first generation Christians too. The apostle Paul wrote to Titus to emphasize that God wanted the first century followers lifestyle to match up with His teaching. It is the old saying, “Their walk should match their talk.” He also addressed this concern when he wrote to the Christians in Rome (6:1-2), when he wrote, “What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that the grace of God may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Profession of faith in Christ should be accompanied by godly living. God pre-paid the cost of sin by sending His Son to die for us. His actions on our behalf (and the help of His Spirit) are designed to produce good works in and through us – assuming we cooperate.
If we are children of God, we are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness (i.e. right living). The Bible says, “You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13). Too many of us use our spiritual freedom as an excuse. But the grace of God never gives us freedom to sin (Romans 6:1-14). Grace is freely given because Jesus made the payment for our sin. Imagine the heavy price He paid! If we understand what our sin cost God, it should help us serve Him gratefully and obey Him. Think theologically. Sin’s price is pre-paid, but that is not a license to sin any longer.
Love is a verb,