Grace and Mercy: Two gifts that set Christianity apart from any other religion

Grace Plus Nothing

By Jeff Harkin
Chapter 2: Imprisoned for mercy

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» Introduction
» Our righteousness can't do it
» Imprisoned for mercy
» What is grace?
» Working Definitions for
   Justification and Sanctification

» Sanctification Does Not Cause

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The articles posted in this section are sample chapters from the book, Grace Plus NothingOff-site Link by Jeff Harkin.

Also available in Kindle Edition © Copyright 2004 Applied Grace Publications. Used by permission.

Imprisoned for mercy

We said in the first chapter that our righteousness can't do it. It can't satisfy God and it seldom satisfies us.

Those who are satisfied with their own righteousness are actually in a world of trouble, but they don't know it.

Now I want to expand our understanding of why our righteousness can't do it. The Bible says that the entire world is under the penalty of sin.

For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23Off-site Link ).

We already know this; it's why most of us became Christians. Death is obvious, and we want eternal life.

But the Bible constantly declares that all humanity is imprisoned not only under the penalty for sin-death-but also under the power of sin-enslavement. We suffer both the penalty and the power. That is, we human beings are unable to extradite ourselves from sin. Sin has power over us.

The penalty and the power-both are undeniable realities. Humanity struggles to free itself from its prison of sin and from death as if some human cure is possible, but sin and death continue unabated.

For all have sinned and gall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23Off-site Link).

God gave them over in the lust of their hearts (Romans 1:24Off-site Link).

Both o these verses refer to all of humanity. God gave us over in our lusts. In other words, he gave us over to the power of sin. Thus we are unable to free ourselves from the power of sin. We are imprisoned by sin so the apostle Paul cried:

Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? (Romans 7:23Off-site Link).

It is not so difficult to see why the Lord ordained that the penalty for sin should be death. Clearly sin cannot give life. Neither can the Lord allow the universe to become filled with eternal sinners. No, sin must have an end. Therefore there must be death.

All of this makes sense. But why would a good God turn us over to the power of sin so that we are unable to free ourselves? Is it all a cruel hoax? No, it is the wisdom of God:

For God has shut up all in disobedience that he might show mercy to all (Romans 11:32Off-site Link).

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