De­fil­ing grace, how harsh the sound

The Catoosa County News - - COMMENTARY - Bo Wag­ner

Back in my teenage years I had a friend who lived in the city lim­its. I was a coun­try dweller, used to trees, fields, and lots of open spaces. But his house was squarely in the midst of all of the other houses in the neigh­bor­hood, and it is no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that a per­son could get from one house to the next in un­der three sec­onds time. Be­cause of that, no one had sep­tic tanks and field lines, ev­ery­one was on city sewer.

Most ev­ery­one had base­ments as well, and therein lay the po­ten­tial for the dis­as­ter that struck my friend and his fam­ily.

Some­where in the front yard the line from their house to the sewer line in the street got clogged up. My friend’s par­ents did what any wise peo­ple would do, I sup­pose, and called a plumber to come fix the prob­lem.

Did you know that not all plumbers are cre­ated equal? This fam­ily ap­par­ently did not. The fact that he ar­rived in a ve­hi­cle that no self-re­spect­ing home­less per­son would ever be seen in prob­a­bly should have been their first clue that dis­as­ter was im­mi­nent.

This plumber, if he can even char­i­ta­bly be called that, pro­ceeded to make his way to the base­ment where the clean-out plug was lo­cated. That plug just so hap­pened to be in my friend’s bed­room, com­ing down through his ceil­ing, mak­ing a ninety de­gree turn, and go­ing out through his wall into the front yard.

Mr. Poor­plumber found that plug, grabbed a large set of pli­ers, and un­screwed it. Are you al­ready begin­ning to see the prob­lem? No plas­tic, no catch basin, he just un­screwed it. When he did, ev­ery­thing that was back­ing up and un­der pres­sure in the yard and in the house im­me­di­ately ex­ploded into his room, shoot­ing the plug out of his hand. Pan­icked, Mr. Poor­plumber wheeled around and grabbed the first thing he could find, and shoved it up against the now-open pipe to try and stop the tor­rent of filth.

What he grabbed was my friend’s very ex­pen­sive leather coat.

Mr. Poor­plumber screamed for help, draw­ing the at­ten­tion of the home­owner. To­gether they man­aged to get the plug re-in­serted, at which point he got the in­cred­i­bly bril­liant idea to get a huge trash can in which to catch what filth re­mained, though there was pre­cious lit­tle that was not al­ready cov­er­ing ev­ery inch of the bed, walls, floor, etc.

That ex­pen­sive leather coat? It was ut­terly ruined. Be­ing soaked and spat­tered by hu­man waste re­duced a beau­ti­ful thing into an abom­inably filthy thing, one that no one would ever be will­ing to wear again. In Jude verse four, Jude caus­ti­cally spoke of those who “turn the grace of God into las­civ­i­ous­ness.” That Old English word means “un­bri­dled lust and shame­less­ness.”

When we think of grace, it is likely that the first thought that comes to mind is the in­com­pa­ra­ble hymn of the faith, “Amaz­ing Grace.” Grace, God’s un­mer­ited fa­vor to un­wor­thy man, should al­ways be amaz­ing. But when peo­ple turn grace into an ex­cuse to live as they please, they have taken that which is amaz­ing and made it as filthy and worth­less as my friend’s hu­man-waste-cov­ered coat.

Grace is no ex­cuse to com­mit adul­tery. Grace is no ex­cuse for a pornog­ra­phy habit, drunk­en­ness, a filthy mouth, or for­ni­ca­tion. Nor does the fact that grace and mercy should be ex­tended to the re­pen­tant sin­ner au­to­mat­i­cally re­move all of the con­se­quences of such lives of sin. Yet sadly, from time to time even a few preach­ers them­selves set this abom­inable ex­am­ple, liv­ing like the devil him­self, then de­cry­ing the “lack of grace” on the part of those who point out their sin and their ob­vi­ous dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion from min­istry, or at least the ob­vi­ous need to step down un­til things are re­pented of and truly set right. Jude called those men “un­godly,” and said that they are “deny­ing the only Lord God, and our Lord Je­sus Christ.”

Ti­tus 2:12 says that real grace teaches us to deny un­god­li­ness and worldly lusts, and live soberly, righ­teously, and godly, in this present world. Paul said in Ro­mans 6:12 “What shall we say then? Shall we con­tinue in sin, that grace may abound? God for­bid.”

Amaz­ing grace how sweet the sound, yes. De­fil­ing grace, how harsh the sound, no. Not now, not ever, there is sim­ply no ex­cuse for it.

Bo Wag­ner is pas­tor of Cor­ner­stone Bap­tist Church in Moores­boro, N.C. He is a widely trav­eled evan­ge­list and the au­thor of sev­eral books. He can be con­tacted by email at

Evan­ge­list and au­thor

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