Paul once framed an issue with a question so shocking that it hits us upside the head. He asked the Christians at Rome: “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” He hastened to answer the question: “By no means! God forbid!”
There have always been people who turn liberty from sin into a license to sin. There is a liberty that is really no liberty at all, but rather a foul bondage.
Eve became the first “liberated” woman – declaring her independence from God only to hide in the bushes, bound by shame, guilt and fear. The prodigal son wanted to be free, out from under the influence of his father. Instead, he ended up fettered with his own failure in the pig-sty of a far country. The rich fool in a parable our Lord told wanted to be free of financial worry. So he staked his life on the single card of bigger and fuller barns – a grand retirement fund. But he had to leave it for the relatives to fight over in probate court when, on that very night, the jail-keeper of death slammed the door on his life. For all these people, their so-called liberty was a lie – a lonely, bitter bondage.
None of this is the fault of the Gospel. People do not live godless lives because they believe in the free forgiveness of Christ. They live godless lives because they do not truly trust Christ in the first place. Anyone who truly knows what it is to have the debt of a lifetime cancelled by Christ, to have all his IOU’s torn up, gets a new and grateful heart that loves Christ, wants what God wants, thinks the way God thinks. The sinful nature becomes this hated houseguest from hell, not the lord of the manor.
This is what Paul had in mind when he told the Ephesian Christians: “Be made new in the attitude of your minds…”