Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you0 were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:16–18, esv).
How long did you make it this morning before your first sin? Had you finished your shower or your first cup of coffee? Did you survive your drive to work without sinning? Chances are your first interpersonal interactions offered plenty of opportunities to stumble: cruel thoughts, impatient words, gossip, slander, boasting. You can feel like a failure before the day even begins. But you live under grace!
When you live under the law, you are constantly attacked by messages of condemnation: “Loser! You blew it again. You’re such a failure. You’ve never measured up, and you never will.” Those messages come from the enemy of your soul, Satan, dubbed “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10). When you listen to his lies, you grow discouraged and even despondent.
The purpose of the law was to reveal sin. Without the law, you would be oblivious to God’s standards of right and wrong—it teaches you and exposes the sin in your life. But hear this: None of God’s children are under the law. All who know Him through Christ are under grace. God has immersed you in a system of grace so that when He sees you, He sees what He is changing you to be and not what you are.
Dispense with the notion that God is looking from heaven with a furrowed brow and clenched teeth, muttering, “What is wrong with you?! Why can’t you get it right?” He has placed you under His system of grace, so that when you fail you can hear His liberating truth, “I love you; I forgive you. Get up and keep trying. I will help you!”
Not only does this passage negate the bad news, it also delivers the good news that you are embraced as a child of God. Since the first day you became His child, your value in God’s estimation has never risen or fallen, because it has nothing to do with you. Your worth in God’s eyes relates to His grace through Jesus Christ and the fact that He chose to set His love upon you.
What liberating news—you “are not under law but under grace” (6:15). When you fall, get up. When you fail, don’t wallow in your failure, crushed by the weight of the law. God is transforming you. You are not in charge of your own transformation; He is (Philippians 1:6). And God is empowering you to live it out, giving you grace for today through His indwelling Spirit.
So when you feel discouraged, don’t quit. You’re under His grace. Live like it!