Grace Immersion

Day 17

Hi, I’m René and I’m a Sinaholic

Read Romans 5:12–17

But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift.
For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus&nb

Before I was a pastor, I was a disc jockey and also recorded voice-overs for commercials, promos, etc., for a variety of radio stations and other clients. Occasionally I’ll still do some work in that area. I’ll never forget one particular recording session: I’d been hired to record “liners,” as they’re called, for a talk radio station. Once the production director discovered I was also a pastor, he really let me have it! Every lame joke about pastors, every stereotype — the guy was relentless! I soon found out why.

“Look, I grew up in a church,” he told me, “And every Sunday it was the same thing: ‘Try harder to keep the Ten Commandments.’ Well, it didn’t work. I became an alcoholic. And I tried to stop. But trying harder doesn’t work. The church message is a ridiculous lie. In my 12-Step group I finally realized that willpower is far from enough!”

Then he sat back and looked at me like, “I rest my case! I dare you to argue!”

I think he was pretty surprised when I agreed with him.

I told him that the moralistic message of many churches is totally misleading and very dangerous. The actual biblical teaching is not “try harder.” It’s that we are all sinners — sinaholics, if you like — self-destructive and deceitful.

Sin is not merely a bad habit to unlearn through willpower. We do sin willfully, but also, just like alcoholism, it’s a disease. It’s not just that we’re ignorant and need enlightenment. We are sick and we need a cure. Today’s verses mean no one’s immune to the sin disease. We’re all born with it. It’s genetic:

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17

That means that because of our disease, we were all destined for physical and spiritual death. The good news is, God gives us a cure! It’s given to “those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace…”

Maybe you can relate to that production director. You heard things in church like:

“You have to try real hard.”

“You need to give up this or that.”

“Before God can bless you, you need to take this to the next level.”

Mixed messages at best, emphasizing what you do for God instead of what God does for you.

Why don’t such messages really work? We’ll check that out tomorrow.

By the way, that production director was amazed at the biblical parallels to concepts he had learned in his recovery group and became a regular attender at our church, very enthused about grace!

When did you think the message of the Bible or of your church was essentially “try harder”?

When and how did you begin to understand the message of grace?

Thank God for His “abundant provision of grace” through Jesus Christ!