I have a confession to make. I love James Bond movies. I’m not proud of it, but I can quote many of them by heart. Mr. Bond has a special designation. His number is 007. If you’re like me, and you really know something about James Bond, you know the “double-o” designation refers to a special class of agents on her majesty’s secret service who possess something that regular secret agents don’t have: a “license to kill.” These agents can take out anybody they want to without ever seeking permission or ever having to offer an explanation. They live above the law.
There are some Christians today who feel the same way. They believe that because they have been recipients of God’s grace and because they serve on His majesty’s service, they too have a special privilege that sets them apart. They believe that they possess a license to sin. Whenever they are confronted by a pastor, a concerned Christian friend, or a mate about their need to obey God, they whip out their special permit spelled: G-R-A-C-E.
They believe that grace gives them permission to do whatever they want to do. They have perverted grace into an excuse for disobedience to God.
A New Master
The fact is, grace is not the freedom to do what we want to do. It’s the freedom to do what God wants us to do. Listen to this: Grace does not free us to serve no master. It frees us to serve a new master.
Like it or not, we are all slaves of something. 2 Peter 2:19 says we are slaves to whatever controls us. “For by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.”
- If you can’t say no to desserts, you’re a slave to sugar.
- If you are addicted to pornography, you’re a slave to immorality.
- If you find yourself checking the stock report on CNBC every hour on the hour, you are a slave to money.
You are a slave to whatever controls your life. That’s what Jesus was saying in Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.”
Here’s the good news: as a Christian, you get to choose your master. A non-Christian doesn’t have that choice. A non-Christian is a slave to Satan and his kingdom. And no matter how much that non-Christian tries to break free … recovery programs, counseling, self-help books, New Year’s resolutions … Satan yanks that chain and pulls them back. They are slaves to sin.
And let me be clear: Satan rewards those who follow him. There are wages that come from serving Satan. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death.” That’s the payment you receive for following Satan. The wages of sin is eternal separation from God. But that’s not all. When you choose to disobey God and follow Satan, the payment you get is the death and destruction of everything important to you: the death of your friendships, marriage, family, dreams, and ultimately the death of your relationship to God. That’s what Satan offers you. Death and destruction.
What is it that God offers us as a payment for following Him? He offers us joy, peace of mind, happiness, restored relationships, and ultimately eternal life.
As a Christian, you’ve been freed from Satan. He has no more authority over your life or my life than we choose to allow him to have. What does grace do for you? It gives you a new master.
A Change of Address
Grace also brings you into a whole new location. Paul explains in Ephesians 2:4-6, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Paul is saying when you become a Christian, when you receive God’s grace, you have a change of address as well. You are moved to a whole different realm of living. We’re no longer trapped in the slum of sin and death. Those who believe that grace is a license to sin don’t understand the change of location. Paul sums it up best when he says, “Shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2) The answer is a resounding NO! We who are recipients of God’s grace have a new master and we serve in a new location.