We all strive for the right kind of balance, but it seems like we can never get it just right. We either have too much of one ingredient or of the other ingredient. Much of what we end up with stems from our reaction to what we see in the lives of the people we know in the church, who are called, 'Christians'.
For example, we see people who live such an organized Christian life, that there is no life there. We hear of people proudly announcing that 'We don't drink. We are Christians', as the waitress offers the menu for Happy Hour that is going on. I have personally experienced hostility in my life, as we went to a juvenile delinquent center to minister to the teens there. I brought my electric guitar (not sure why. I didn't even know how to play it!) and I really can't remember all that we did that night, but, some people in the church had a hard time with it because of my electric guitar. Years ago, I received tract samples in the mail, as I think I researched every tract company I could find and wanted to find the best out there (I was around 17 or 18 then). I had one tract that actually said on the front, 'To Wear or Not To Wear The Bow tie'. The tract explained why it was wrong for men to wear a bow tie. I am not sure how wearing a bow tie is an indication of what is going on in our heart! This kind of thinking can cause bondage. This is legalism at its finest!
Today, we have so much technology available to us, and it is easy to find out how people think and what they are doing. We have songs on the Christian radio station that tell us to go to the person who is hurting and tell him he is a child of the King. We now have songs telling us that we can live as kings and queens. Really, if those songs are written for Christians who are going through a difficult time in their lives, they could be somewhat helpful. But if I see a homeless man on the street going through a difficult time, do I have the freedom to tell him he is a child of the King? What if he has never heard the Gospel? I would be lying to him then.
I gave a tract to a man who was a salesman in a store. He recognized the tract and thought highly of it. He indicated to me that everyone should read it. As I started to ask him questions, I found out that he was living with his girlfriend. What is wrong with this picture? In this case, we have grace without truth. There are so called churches with leaders who teach that it doesn't matter what we do once we are saved, because Jesus died for all our sins. It doesn't require repentance, and it doesn't cost us anything. God's love is so great for us that we can even continue in sin and His grace will forgive us instantly.
There is a Christian musical artist who appears to believe like this. The problem is, I don't think that most Christians can separate these kinds of 'Christians' from what the Bible actually tells us. The reason I believe this is true, is because I hear what people have to say about this artist. People have a high admiration of her as they look forward to her new album coming out. They look at her as a role model for Christian women. This Christian artist started out with a fear of people thinking of her as a 'female Billy Graham' and she made sure that everyone would know that she could kiss and flirt with guys. This woman has made innuendoes of sexual liberty with men, and even though she appears to be family minded, committed adultery against her husband and demanded a divorce and married the guy she was having an affair with. How can someone do these things and still sing songs about God's holiness? Here is what I think possibly happened; When this woman was growing up, she was raised in a type of church that didn't believe in using musical instruments. I have heard what this denomination believes about musical instruments, which basically says that no one in the New Testament used musical instruments, therefore we are wrong to use them. The Old Testament days were a different time period and they were allowed back then. Do you see how by taking verses out of context, we can create our own doctrines and miss the whole point of something very important. This particular denomination is legalistic in their musical views. That brings bondage to people who are gifted musically. As you think about this whole doctrine, you can see how absurd it is. I believe this musical artist may have seen the fallacy of this way of thinking, since she was in this denomination growing up. People usually go in the opposite direction when they see something absurd like this. So, instead of adapting to legalistic thinking, she probably went into lawlessness. That's understandable, but it is just as wrong as being legalistic. Both legalism and lawlessness bring bondage.
The only way to liberty is to have both truth and grace. We can have the truth and know it so well, but still miss the grace of God. The truth applies to all of us. We are all sinners who need to be saved from our sins. The only provision made for our sins is the Cross of Jesus Christ. We need repentance and faith to respond to the Gospel effectively. This is applied to us by God's grace working in us.
We need to be recipients of God's grace first. When we understand the truth, we apply it to our lives by the grace of God. When we have done that adequately, we can be gracious toward others, and give them the truth of God. The grace of God will not be effective if we don't understand the truth though. This is how we can be set free. We can be free from the bondage of sin. We can have the power to live out the truth of God in our own lives. We can give away what has been given to us. Grace and truth must work together to produce the freedom we need to have in order to be free from the bondage of sin. Remember, it is more than just being forgiven of our sins. It is also being set free from the power of sin. That is what grace does with truth in our lives. We need both, not just one or the other.