God's Care and the Safe Path
Too heavy an emphasis upon grace only emphasizes the goodness and the grace of God apart from the law of God— apart from obedience. So we say, "God has been gracious to you, but there are no requirements from God." Well, that doesn’t make sense. It’s not gracious to reveal to God’s people the safe path that the law is without it also being a reflection of God’s character and care.
Or I might say, "Here’s the good and safe path, and God has outlined it by his law. He said, ‘Here’s what’s required of you to know the goodness that I intend for you.'" That’s actually a gracious thing—to show you that law. To talk about God’s grace and forgiveness but never mention the safe path is dangerous.
At the same time, to only talk about the law in isolation from the grace of God gives people the sense that God is going to love them because they've been good, rather than understanding that he loves us because Christ was good.
Our faith is not in what we do, but in what Christ has done on our behalf. So we fall back into the great understanding of the Puritan writer John Bunyan. He was once accused of talking too much about the assurance of God’s love. He was told, "You cannot keep assuring people of God’s love, because if you keep assuring people of God’s love, they’ll do whatever they want." And Bunyan’s famous answer was, "No, if we keep assuring God’s people of God’s love, they’ll do whatever he wants."
There is a chemistry of the heart made active by the grace of God as we perceive how great his love is for us that makes us desire him, and desire to walk with him. If we make much of the assurances of grace then we’ll want to walk with him. God’s people will do what God wants because they love him out of his grace.
This article is adapted from Unlimited Grace: The Heart Chemistry That Frees from Sin and Fuels the Christian Life by Bryan Chapell.