. . . where sin abounds, Grace much more abounds.—Romans 5:20Jesus stated that when He, the Comforter, would come, the first thing He would do is convict the world of sin (John 16:8). I don’t know whether this has ever struck any of you as a contradiction. As for me, I used to wonder how He can be convicting us of sin at the same time as He is the comforter. I believe the key to the secret lies in the story of Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well in John 4.
Jesus offered her living water. Elsewhere we have shown in the Scriptures that this living water is the heart-quenching unconditional love of God that, once received, becomes a well, springing up inside us toward others. But before she could receive this living water, she first had to come to a realization of her own past mistakes while simultaneously realizing God’s unchanging, noncondemning love for her in spite of her past mistakes (for more on this topic, download Windows to His Soul, coming soon to the sermons/downloads page at www.renewedheartministries.com)
You see, in order for one to experience just how unconditional God’s love is, one must first realize his or her own sinfulness. Let me explain further.
The Bible never uses the phrase “unconditional love,” yet the concept is everywhere in the Scriptures. Instead of the phrase unconditional love, the Bible uses the word Grace. You see, Grace (or unmerited favor, as some define it) is still love, but it’s love when that love is not deserved. When humanity sinned, God’s love for us did not change. It simply became unmerited or undeserved. God continued to love us, but now it was in spite of our sin. His affection toward us never lessened along with His continued desire to help, bless, and save us. The angels are not the recipients of God’s grace, for they have never sinned. God simply loves them. God loves we who have sinned just as much as He does the angels, but we call the love He shows us Grace, because by our actions we should have forfeited His love, yet He loves us still the same. Paul tried to communicate this in his famous statement to the believers in Rome:
“… where sin abounds Grace does much more abound” (Romans 5:20).
John sought to communicate this truth in I John 2:1: “If any man sin we have a [comforter] along side the Father.”
Some will say, “Wait, the verse states that Jesus is our advocate, not our comforter.” Yet the word translated as “advocate” is parakletos. It is used five times in the New Testament and only in this verse was it translated as advocate. Everywhere else it was translated as comforter (AV). Jesus hints at this when He says to His disciples that when He departs, He will ask “the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16, emphasis added). This brings us back to our original question. How is it that when the Holy Spirit comes as a comforter, His first job will be to “convict the world concerning sin”? (John 16:8). Ask yourself, why is He doing this? The Holy Spirit was given to usher in the fullness of our encounter with God and His love that Jesus began. Thus, as Jesus sought to have the woman at the well encounter God’s much more abounding grace in spite of her sin, the Holy Spirit is trying to accomplish this encounter for every person in the world! In order for the world to see God’s much more abounding grace, it must also see its sin along side God’s amazing grace which undeservedly much more abounds.
“No matter how greatly sin abounds, in that very place grace superabounds . . . the greater and more hideous and deadly sin is seen to be, the more is God’s superabounding grace magnified.” (E.J. Waggoner, The Everlasting Covenant p. 290)
“In the matchless gift of his Son, God has encircled the whole world with an atmosphere of grace, as real as the air which circulates around the globe” (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p. 72).
The question for you this week is, will you choose to breathe it?