'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear...

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The grace that frees us from our bondage to sin does not enter into our lives like a key releasing us from the handcuffs of God's Law. Imagine a grace that says, "You don't need to love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. That's not required for those under grace. Nor do you need to love your neighbor as yourself. Your selfish self is fine under grace."

Such grace isn't what sinners need--or even want. Sinners brought to Christ by grace don't desire to be free from the constraints of God's Law, they want to live by Christ's Law of Love. Sinners who came to faith in the Gospels routinely rejoiced in their new freedom--freedom not simply from the guilt of sin, but equally from bondage to sin. Tax collectors threw parties to announce that they were both free of guilt and free from bondage. "Sinners" anointed Christ's feet not to celebrate freedom from the righteous demands of the Law, but to rejoice that they were now living in obedience to the Law rather than dying under it.

It's a perversion of grace that claims we are free to be wretched sinners because of Christ. It's a perversion of grace to claim that Christ was extraordinary so that I can be ordinary. No one is won to eternal life by a Gospel of failure. Nor is regeneration a spiritual fact but an earthly fiction. 

Grace begins with the Law of Love weighing so heavy upon our shoulders that we buckle under it and turn to Christ. Grace is not throwing off the overcoat of the Law. Grace is the Law becoming heavier and heavier, transformed by grace from an overcoat of gauze to an overcoat of lead, thus overwhelming sinners by its weight. 

Only under the weight of a guilt and failure so intense that we cannot stand up under it do we find Christ. Only when grace has led our hearts to fear does grace present Christ as the answer to that burden. He bears the weight with us by first forgiving us and then cleansing us. We can stand up under the Law yoked with Him. 

And grace's first appearance on the scene? In the demands of God's Law becoming so deeply impressed upon our hearts and minds that we come to fear Him. This is grace. It weighs us down so that it may set us free. (DB)