Defiling grace, how harsh the sound
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 email@example.com.
Evangelist and author