I understand those in the body of Christ who, through bad past experiences, or their own secret sin, are anxious about the grace message - nervous that suddenly, everyone is going to go around sinning with gleeful abandon. Or even sinning with slightly less guilt. Guilt is one of the best manipulators known to man - a very effective, though temporary, behavior modification tool, is it not?
One of the things I hear is that, "Christ raised the standard - therefore grace raises the standard of behavior, it never lowers it!"
You are exactly right.
Listen. Few people hate sin more than a pastor (and his wife). Few people have seen the ravages of it the way we have. Because of the sacred nature of "clergy confidentiality", we know stuff about people that no one else knows. My husband knows things that I will never know. He will take certain information about people to his grave - it was spoken to him in confidence. We've seen things we can't talk about - so whatever you have heard about from us....it probably isn't the half of it. Rest assured of that. We hate sin.
We'd be the last people to encourage home-wrecking, body- wrecking, relationship- wrecking behavior. But guilting people out of it will only suffice them in going right back to it, eventually. Manipulation and control only go so far, in the human spirit. Though seemingly effective, they are the poorest motivators in existence.
So yes, absolutely. Jesus "raised" the standard.
He made it absolutely unattainable. He made it impossibly high. He preached to those under the law as though they were....those under the law. He put the goal so far out of reach (light years away from their grasp!) that they would need some other recourse than their willpower.
According to Jesus, if a man glances a woman's way, with any inclination towards thinking she's hot....he is an adulterer. If I decide that a brother is an idiot, I am in danger of hellfire. (What's that smell????)
If I detest him, I am a murderer.
Let me tell you....I desperately need an old testament "city of refuge" (where "accidental murderers" could flee for safety) because I find myself detesting certain people - even a few so called Christians I've known. (Uh....no one in my church.) I also have days where I am convinced all the world are idiots except for me and my husband, and he is questionably wise. I have days like that. And don't think I don't mean it. I do. Which means the flames of hell are one-eighth of an inch from my behind.
If you think you can meet the so-called "higher standard of grace"....you are an....idiot.
There I go again. See? I need a city of refuge today, I need a saving from hellfire, and I have not even had my lunch yet. This day is not over.
Thank God, Hebrews 6 says this: ...that we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast...
Don't think for one minute that those Hebrews did not know exactly what Paul meant when he talked about fleeing for refuge. Oh...they knew.
Christ - my refuge from my insufficiency. Christ, my substitution. His obedience to that impossible standard has become MY obedience. There simply is no other way to look at it. If that makes some people apply grace incorrectly - that is a reflection of their own unbelieving heart. I refuse to modify the beauty of the gospel to suit fallen, human idiots.
There I go again.