You either operate under threat of punishment or you operate under unbreakable one-way love. These are two different universes, two different kingdoms. Which do you believe is true?
If Jesus’ mercy was expressed for killing a fly or stealing a dollar, then His mercy would work only for such shallow easy sins. Justice and mercy would kiss no further. But His expression of mercy is that we should obey God all the way until it kills us, and love our enemies and forgive them from the heart while they are murdering us.
It is the persistent love of God which keeps beaming at us regardless of our performance or degree of transformational success which transforms us.
This is exactly how behavioral righteousness works under the gospel. People think the basis of the gospel is moral pressure because it is written that it many times results in righteous behavior. However, the basis of the gospel has nothing to do with this.
We talk about the rich young ruler a lot in my house. His problem is not, as is commonly thought, his unwillingness to obey. He came asking the wrong question in the first place. He did not come asking, “How can I inherit eternal life?” He came asking, “What must I do that I may obtain eternal life?”
Even so, you cannot mix grace and law. Like leaven, the law overtakes the whole loaf. If you mostly believe in the one-way grace and acceptance of God, but you still maintain that somehow there remains the remote possibility that our poor performance can persuade Him to reject us, you have the leaven of the Pharisees.
So the gospel declares a 100% scandalous free-for-all forgiveness through Christ’s blood. It says that everything: lax law, stringent law, my real and present guilt and shame, no longer define me. The love which God has expressed towards me in Christ defines me.
Cannibalism is the single most immoral human act. It is murder PLUS eating human flesh. Christianity takes it to the extreme. Cannibalistic cultures typically eat their enemies or their grandmothers who died naturally. Jesus is asking us to eat Him – the Messiah, God in the flesh. Kill and eat! Drink His blood!
Think about it like a normal person for just a second: how can you say He was sacrificed for sins and then say that if you sin, the sacrifice is no good?
If you live and breathe and think and exist in an environment where you believe in the power of Christ’s blood shed for sinners, you have escaped the two-dimensional prison. You really have come to believe, not simply that you alone are forgiven, but that there is a possibility of real lasting definitive forgiveness at all. You believe in substitutionary atonement.