IS GRACE A “GET OUT OF JAIL” CARD?

TITUS 2:11-13: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Do I understand the power of God’s grace? Do I confuse grace with mercy? Is grace something that is influencing and changing my life moment by moment and day by day?

When I was growing up, one of the favorite summer activities we had in our neighborhood was playing Monopoly. This was before the dawn of all day cartoon channels, computers, tablets, and smart phones. The summer days would seem to last forever. After you played some hoops, or over the line baseball, there was still a long day ahead. We would fill this with countless games of Monopoly.

The “Meadow Falls Drive” Monopoly tournament was a traveling game. It would go from house to house. And each kid had his own board. There was an unwritten rule in our tournaments. The house established the rules. This altered the game a bit, but it also made it ever changing and fun. Yet, in all of its forms, one thing remained constant. One of the most coveted cards to possess was the “Get Out of Jail” card.

Whenever I got one of these cards I would hide it under the board. I knew that this was really silly, but I convinced myself that it gave me an edge. It was mine to use or not use when I got into trouble. I did not fear landing on the “Go to Jail” square because I had this card hidden away for such an occasion.

As a believer, and as an adult, I realize this is the way I have treated grace for much of my life. I knew that God loved me, I knew that He would forgive me, and I kept this truth tucked away under the board of my heart in case I needed it. Grace had become my “Get Out of Jail” card. This is a misuse and a gross misunderstanding of grace.

This is not to say that God’s grace is not extended to us when we sin. Yet, it is more His mercy that is extended rather than His grace.

  • “If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9 CSB

God’s grace, His unmerited favor and love, is why He came to die for our sins. His mercy held back the judgment that we all deserved in light of the cross. We are now saved by His unmerited favor and love, through faith, when we put our trust in Christ alone! His love now does not come to save us. Rather, as those who are saved, His love comes to empower us and instruct us. It is not a “Get Out of Jail” card. His grace is the power to live a godly life in an ungodly world!

  • “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age…”

We live in a world filled with wickedness. It is a broken world, a godless world, a confused world. What can empower us, teach us, and guide us through this difficult maze? It is the grace of God! The Word of God is the message of His grace. The Spirit of God is the provision of His grace. Through the Spirit and the Word we are instructed in the pathway of righteousness, we are enable to walk in wisdom, and we are empowered to avoid the pitfalls of sin and darkness.

As we move around the board of life we will fail. This is where I John 1:8-9 comes to play. However, grace is not a pass to just fail and run back for forgiveness. This is a misunderstanding of grace. God’s mercy forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Then, God’s grace equips us and teaches us how to avoid making the same mistake. The final verses in Titus chapter 2 tells it all.

  • “He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works. Proclaim these things; encourage and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” Titus 2:14-15 CSB

This truth is also proclaimed in the verse following Ephesians 2:8-9.

  • “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10 CSB

Grace is given to prepare us, equip us, and teach us how to be like Jesus Christ. It is our “Advance to Go” on the Monopoly board of life. It is not a “Get Out of Jail” card. It is our empowerment to live a godly life in an ungodly world.

Lord, forgive me for the many times I have leaned upon Your grace as an excuse for my failures, rather than embracing Your grace as the power to overcome and live a godly life. Empower me today by Your grace. Teach me, lead me, and help me to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in this present age – by Your great grace!

In Jesus Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is the Founder of Resurrection Christian Outreach. RCO is a ministry that promotes the growth and vitality of the local church through speaking engagements, seminars, various media tools, and written curriculum and books. This ministry was started over 35 years ago by Kirk as a means to strengthen the church that he was pastoring. It grew as Kirk began to share these tools with other churches. Today many of the materials are being used by local churches both nationally and internationally. Kirk's Devotional Journal is a result of struggling with Bible reading programs that never seemed to work. Kirk feels the Lord helped him discover an easy to follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year. This program is called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information on the L.I.F.E. plan, send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com. Kirk is also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats. With over 40 years of professional business and pastoral ministry experience, Kirk brings a unique combination of practical wisdom, humor, and Biblical insight. If you would like Kirk to speak at your church, school, or ministry, please send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your opportunity.
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