“For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
When Yeshua died on the cross, He paid the ultimate sacrifice and renewed the covenant He made with the people of Israel (the twelve tribes, including everyone who believes in Yeshua and has been grafted into the Kingdom of God – Romans 11, Ezekiel 37). The Law of Sin and Death no longer has a hold on our lives; in its place, we have been given the gift of grace and forgiveness, though that does not mean that we no longer need to obey God’s Law and His Torah.
Being saved and living our lives after God does not give us free rein to do anything we want. Contrary to popular Christian belief, forgiveness is more than saying, “Lord, I’m sorry, please forgive me.” To truly repent, we must turn away from our sins in order to be forgiven. Many people will say that they believe in God, but only the ones who are walking in His ways are His chosen people. (Matthew 7:21-23) So, what role does grace have in our lives, and why do people believe that its existence gives us a leeway to live a life after our fleshly desires?
This topic became widely spoken about and debating during the last season of The Bachelorette. I do not usually watch the show, nor do I agree with its premise; however, as Hannah Brown attempted to find love, a lot of controversies were raised after a contestant asked Hannah a personal question about sex.
It was the week of Fantasy Suites, where Hannah decides which of the final four men she would like to take the next step with. During her date with Luke P, things became heated after he told her that he would want to excuse himself from the show if she were having sex with the other guys. Completely shocked and taken aback, Hannah B responded with the now-famous quote, “I have had sex, and Jesus still loves me.” (Click here for the clip)
I want to make a point to say that I did not agree with most of Luke P’s motives or actions during his time on the show. Though he declared to be a Christian from day one, he did not conduct himself in a Christ-like way and was very manipulative during the entire season. However, on this particular night, I think that he was right to share his belief that sex is meant for a husband and wife; if only he had followed through with his statement and left when he said he would.
That night, Hannah sent Luke home, though he returned for the rose ceremony determined to win Hannah back and propose to her. The episode raised many questions, and thousands of people began to choose sides and discuss who was right. Some Christians were patting Luke P on the back, while others said that we should be past the age of slut-shaming and questioning people’s faith because they choose not to wait until marriage to have sex.
While I don’t think that we should be bullying or questioning people’s hearts, we do need to have these discussions and challenge believers with what the Scripture says. 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
During the finale and the “Men Tell All” segment at the end of the season, Hannah B continued the conversation with Luke P after he tried to justify himself. Her statement was another perfect example of the Christian world’s warped perception of grace. She said, “I’m so over being slut-shamed and being made feel like I’m not a woman of faith, because, oh my gosh, I live my life and make mistakes and sin every single day. And so do you, and so do you, and so do you, and so do you, and so do you (pointing at the audience), but that’s what grace is for.” (click to watch the video)
Though we are all sinners and face temptations on an almost daily basis, there is a problem if we are conscious that we are sinning every day. (James 4:7) By nature, we are sinful, but when we invite Yeshua to dwell in our hearts, we become a new person, our bodies becoming the Temple of God, and we are called to turn away from the temptations and sins of this world.
James 1:22-27, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
As it says in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” We are to humble ourselves before the Father. He is a forgiving God, but if we do not turn from our sins to follow Him, are we really a part of His Kingdom? The answer can be found in 1 John 3:4-10,
“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”
The words are harsh, but Yeshua didn’t die so we could have a half-hearted relationship with Him. Grace should not be an excuse to continue walking like the Gentiles — in sin and earthly desires. Do not take for granted what Yeshua did on the cross for us; His death set us free, and it’s time to break the chains and live a life in that freedom!
Romans 6:1-7, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”
My prayer for young adults and other Christians today is that we all realize is that it’s alright to stand out and not do what the world expects of us. We should not be trying to fit in, but standing out and showing those around us who our Father in Heaven is! I hope that Hannah B will continue to mature in her faith and that God will show her that her ways are not His own. Being normal is overrated; let’s break out of the cycle and show our peers that living for Yeshua has more importance than following the ways of this world!