If your brand of grace doesn’t lead to a holy life, you didn’t get the real deal. Grace isn’t disgrace. True grace produces lives that adorn the gospel. Timothy Keller notes, “We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that remains alone. True faith will always produce a changed life.” If there is no life change in someone who claims he is a Christian, this is cause not just for concern but alarm. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor.13:5, NIV).
The word integrity comes from the mathematics term integer. As you probably recall from school days, an integer is a whole number. It isn’t split or fractioned. In the same way, a person of integrity is a whole person. The public persona is a match with the private person. There is no duplicity. If there is any degree of difference between who we are perceived to be and who we really are, to that degree we have lost integrity, wholeness. This sets the stage for loss of trust. And when trust in the messenger is compromised the message is often compromised, as well. Those who claim allegiance to Christ “must show themselves to be entirely trustworthy. In this way they will make people want to believe in our Savior and God” (Titus 2:10, TLB).
Our salvation has nothing to do with our works. Jesus forever finished the work of redemption on the cross. There is great liberty in the gospel. But our freedom should never be construed as license for unrighteous living. That’s not what we’ve been made for. It’s not what we’ve been re-made for. Instead we’ve been “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). We are new creations in Christ Jesus. “We are His workmanship” (Eph. 2:10, italics added). The original Greek word is poema. God is writing something beautiful through our lives.
So can you be a Christian and still sin? The overwhelming evidence says yes. Regrettably we still “fall short of the glory of God” (Ro. 3:23). But, as a true follower of Jesus, you cannot sin and not grieve. We grieve knowing that we have grieved the tender Holy Spirit who lives within us. The way back to full fellowship with the Lord is to come clean before Him in quick confession and full repentance. Then, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9).
“He saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:9-10, NIV).
I blog devotional thoughts Monday through Thursday. I invite you to join me in enjoying e-free weekends and focus on cultivating your most important relationships: God, family, close friends. Let’s reconnect next Monday!