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The truth that frees from sin’s power

Living the Gospel

The truth that frees from sin’s power
Posted on December 20, 2019  - By Ethan Merck

Where I grew up, people talked a lot about the “fear of the Lord”. I got the idea that to keep away from sin, fear of the Lord was the main thing I needed. Verses like Proverbs 16:6 seemed to confirm this.

Fear of the Lord was explained to me as a terror of God: dread at the prospect of being punished, and the possibility of my secret sins being put on display.

I internalised that, trying to become more afraid of sin’s consequences and realise how shameful my sin was so that I would stop. I condemned myself and tried to work my way back to God when I wandered away.

But instead of freedom and holiness, I found the opposite…

My pride and idolatry were stirred up. I became addicted. I was driven even further into guilt and shame — trying to hide from God and people, despairing, and trapped in endless cycles of sin and failing.

It was a long period, close to 15 years. The eventual path out of it, in God’s mercy, was this: I had to relearn the good news of the gospel.

The eventual path out of it, in God’s mercy, was this: I had to relearn the good news of the gospel

It started with one truth in particular: as a believer, I do not get what I deserve.


But how does that break sin’s power?

It has everything to do with my relationship to God’s law. God’s law can only give me what I deserve. Since I am a sinner, that means it condemns me.

But if I am in Christ Jesus, the law no longer gives me my standing with God. Christ fulfilled it completely on my behalf and, through His death in my place, took its curse that was against me. He left me only blessing!

Because of His sacrifice, there is now no condemnation for me, even in my darkest days of sin (Romans 8:1).

It turns out that condemnation — the very thing I was trusting in to keep from sinning — is actually a major component of sin’s power (1 Corinthians 15:56).  Fear of punishment under the law can never produce holiness. In fact, it drives me far from God, both when I choose to sin and when I try to please Him.

To free us from sin, God had to make another way for His children. Now instead of fear under the law, God teaches us by grace (Titus 2:11-14).

Grace teaches me to walk by faith in the Son of God, relying on the Spirit’s work instead of my own to produce Christ’s sonship in me: all the beautiful submission and obedience to the Father that the law never could (Romans 8:3-4).

Grace, not law, is the power of God that shatters sin.

Grace, not law, is what culminates the fear of the Lord in worshipful awe.

Are you learning to walk by faith in the grace of Christ? Or are you still trying to live like you get what you earn?

It really does make all the difference.

“Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children.” Ephesians 5:1

“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” Romans 6:15

Ethan Merck

About Ethan Merck

Ethan is a cross-cultural consultant who has lived in a number of major cities across Asia. He has served on staff at three churches, including one he helped plant. Some of his hobbies are reading, hiking, ultimate Frisbee, drawing, and exploring the gospel in all of life. Find him on Instagram at @insidethegospel.



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