A "Radical" Life
Striving to live a life less-ordinary.

Shrugging Off Sin

The truth is, God's standards are way too high for me to live up to.  He demands perfection.  After all, He's perfect.  But...

He took the punishment for me not living up to His standards on Himself.  In fact, He allowed Himself to be murdered for it.  And then He conquered death & sin, therefore redeeming me and making it possible for me to be made right with Him once again.

The average Christian reading these words is probably nodding along in agreement by now.  We all believe these things to be true, of course, because it's the very foundation for our faith.  But in my experience as a pastor, there is much confusion about what happens next.  

RESPONSE 1:  Some still don't get the concept of grace and therefore try to win points with God by doing all the right things and avoiding the bad ones.  Quite the impossible feat.  Jesus had a lot to say about this because it was a prevalent way of thinking in that culture too.  Frankly, we're sinners through and through. Try as we might, we'll still fall short and then proceed to beat ourselves up about it only to start to process over again, and again, and again.  Not exactly the "freedom" Christ promised.  All Christians know this is not the appropriate response...but we fall into the trap none-the-less.

RESPONSE 2: Others shrug off their shortcomings.  Because they believe in God's unmerited grace and don't do any of the "major" sins, they feel pretty good about all the "minor" sins.  Okay, maybe they don't feel "good" about them.  They just don't feel much of anything about them. They don't see these "minor" sins as a big deal and so they aren't making any big efforts to change.  No, they may not be doing everything exactly the way Jesus said, but compared to everyone else, they feel pretty good about how things are going.  Sure, they know they should stop doing this one particular thing and that they probably should be doing more good things.  But hey...they're good people and they know God has forgiven them.  What more do you want?  Why kill yourself trying to be perfect?  You can't be perfect, and God's grace covers you anyway.

I've tried both ways of thinking and I can tell you that neither works.  One leaves you desperately attempting to do the impossible and the other leaves you obviously happier, but ultimately unsatisfied and living well-short of what God intends.

WHAT'S THE PROPER RESPONSE?  Well, I'm certainly no brilliant scholar or great theologian, but I think Jesus made it pretty clear that even though His grace is unmerited and paid for, He will not take second place.  He's to be first.  In everything.  That following Him means absolute commitment and devotion, and therefore every sin (major or minor) cannot be brushed under the rug as if it's no big deal.  We're to scour the passionate (and sometimes harsh) words of Jesus and examine honestly whether or not we're really following Him, regardless of whether or not we believe we're saved.

To me, it's not about points OR grace.  It's about God. And it's about loving Him so much that the very idea of continuing to do something you know He isn't okay with makes you sick to your stomach...as does continuing to not do the things you know He wants you to do.  It's a love that doesn't allow you to shrug it off.

Yes, you will still fall short.
Yes, God's grace still covers you.

But if you really love Him, you will not shrug it off.  Your shortcomings, even though they're covered, are still a big deal.  "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" - John 14:15

Jeremiah Smith

Jeremiah Smith


I'm striving to live a life less-ordinary. As followers of Christ our lives should not look like everybody elses. We should be more giving, more loving, more passionate, more sure, more...radical. But we're not. We blend in and desperately want to fit in. This blog is my journey toward to a "radical" life that doesn't look like the rest of the world.


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Atlanta, Georgia, United States
A Hoosier, a Buckeye and two Rwandans out on a mission to serve the world. Missionaries for Rwanda through AFRICA NEW LIFE MINISTRIES. We are entirely donor-supported, so if you'd like to partner with us through prayer or finances, we would LOVE to set up a time to chat!