Don’t Use Grace an an Excuse

"Oh, I didn't go to church this week. I'll give myself grace." "Oh, I missed the gym all week long. I'll just give myself grace." "I sinned. But, that's ok. God gives me grace." Don't fall into this pattern of thought. There is more to grace than that. Remember the scripture: Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

I feel as if I have rediscovered grace this past year. Working through my trial of faith and coming to grips with what I believe, as well as my own interpretation has caused this. Two sources have really helped my understanding of grace (President Uchtdorf’s talks and the Continuous Conversion), and I really feel like I am just beginning to truly understand grace within the Mormon perspective.

What I have come to realize is that I didn’t really understand the concept of grace before last year. I mean, I knew what it was and how it worked with the atonement, but I didn’t understand the depth and the purity of grace. And, sadly, I’ve come to notice that many of us in the LDS Church misinterpret what grace really is (that’s why I loved the Continuous Conversion and Uchtdorf’s talks because they are trying to reestablish what it is).

Yes, we as LDS members believe in works. No, we don’t believe that they come before grace or above grace or instead of grace. Grace is everything. Grace is the all. Grace is how we are saved. But, we still have commandments to follow, standards to uphold, and charitable works to accomplish. That is one thing that has always bugged me about some followers of other religions. They tend to use grace as an excuse.[ctt title=”Don’t use Grace as an excuse!” tweet=”Don’t use Grace as an excuse! @themorrelltale” coverup=”VF8Ws”]

"Oh, I didn't go to church this week. I'll give myself grace." "Oh, I missed the gym all week long. I'll just give myself grace." "I sinned. But, that's ok. God gives me grace." Don't fall into this pattern of thought. There is more to grace than that. Remember the scripture: Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Grace as an Excuse

Ever since focusing more on the grace of our Lord and Savior, I’ve noticed that phrase a lot more in social media. It could be something hopeful as “I had a really tough day, I’ve been super busy and my mood has been low, but I have to give myself grace and I’ll get though it.” That’s a good way of using grace–we forgive ourselves and lift ourselves up out of our rut with hope.

But, then there are times like this, “I didn’t go to the gym today, but I’m giving myself grace.” “I know I said no more coke this month, but I really needed it because today has been crazy, so I’ll give myself grace.” Honestly, to me, those uses of “grace” just seem like an excuse. I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before, which talks about habits, keeping habits, and staying away from things that break habits. There was a chapter about rewards and a chapter about loopholes. This is true to point on that–we sometimes turn “grace” in our lives into excuses or loopholes to get out of responsibilities or habits or resolutions. We need to stop that.

There are also those who profess to be Christians but don’t necessarily live a Christian lifestyle. They proclaim they believe in Christ as their Savior, therefore they are saved by grace, then go about their daily lives. If they sin, it doesn’t matter, they are saved by grace. They can live how they want because it doesn’t matter–they are saved by grace. That isn’t how grace works. That is being a hypocrite: “Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men” (2 Nephi 27:25). God doesn’t want us to live our sinful lives. That’s not what grace is supposed to be used for.

Grace Improves Us

Yes, grace forgives sin. But, we have to repent of that sin. We have to actively try better, actively be better. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf is my absolute favorite general authority and has such an eloquent understanding of the Gospel. Talking about grace, he said,

But the grace of God does not merely restore us to our previous innocent state. If salvation means only erasing our mistakes and sins, then salvation—as wonderful as it is—does not fulfill the Father’s aspirations for us. His aim is much higher: He wants His sons and daughters to become like Him.

With the gift of God’s grace, the path of discipleship does not lead backward; it leads upward.[ctt title=”With the gift of God’s grace, the path of discipleship does not lead backward; it leads upward.” tweet=”‘With the gift of God’s grace, the path of discipleship does not lead backward; it leads upward.’ #grace @themorrelltale” coverup=”69mRV”]

It leads to heights we can scarcely comprehend! It leads to exaltation in the celestial kingdom of our Heavenly Father, where we, surrounded by our loved ones, receive “of his fulness, and of his glory.” All things are ours, and we are Christ’s. Indeed, all that the Father hath shall be given unto us.

To inherit this glory, we need more than an unlocked gate; we must enter through this gate with a heart’s desire to be changed—a change so dramatic that the scriptures describe it as being “born again; yea, born of God, changed from [our worldly] and fallen state, to state of righteousness, being redeemed of God,becoming his sons and daughters.”

I have recently realized that the Gospel is one of continuous progression, not perfection as the goal. The only ones who can ever be perfect are Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. But, we can continue to progress. That is the wonderful thing about His grace–it allows us to transcend our sinful mortal state and return to him! But, we have to show that we are worthy by showing that we want it desperately.

The prophet Moroni begged us to “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.” (Moroni 10:32)

"Trying to understand God’s gift of grace with all our heart and mind gives us all the more reasons to love and obey our Heavenly Father with meekness and gratitude." Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Grace Leads us to Obey

We need to lead the lives that God wants us to live. That is why He has given us commandments. That is why He has told us how to live throughout His earthly ministry. He doesn’t want us to say, “I am saved by His Grace” and be done with it. No. Our job isn’t done yet.

President Uchtdorf (can’t you tell I absolutely love him!) said,

The prophet Nephi made an important contribution to our understanding of God’s grace when he declared,“We labor diligently … to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23)

However, I wonder if sometimes we misinterpret the phrase “after all we can do.” We must understand that“after” does not equal “because.”

We are not saved “because” of all that we can do. Have any of us done all that we can do? Does God wait until we’ve expended every effort before He will intervene in our lives with His saving grace?

I feel that this is the biggest misunderstood concept of LDS theology by both Mormons and other Christians.[ctt title=”Is the concept of grace and works misunderstood by the majority of Christians?” tweet=”Is the concept of grace and works misunderstood by the majority of Christians? #grace @themorrelltale” coverup=”pe5m_”] Christ doesn’t meet us half way. He reaches down to the very depths to lift us up. We don’t have to rise at all to meet him. However, does He want us to have our backs turned and just wait for Him? No! We should continually keep our eyes on Him and still reach for Him, knowing that He will help us. We should be anxiously engaged in trying to reach Him, with full understanding that we can’t do it without Him. We should show our love for Him and His wonderful gift of Grace. We aren’t repaying Him…there is no way we could ever do that. We are just showing Him that we love Him. After all, actions speak louder than words:

If grace is a gift of God, why then is obedience to God’s commandments so important? Why bother with God’s commandments—or repentance, for that matter? Why not just admit we’re sinful and let God save us?

Or, to put the question in Paul’s words, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” Paul’s answer is simple and clear: “God forbid.”27

Brothers and sisters, we obey the commandments ofGod—out of love for Him!

Trying to understand God’s gift of grace with all our heart and mind gives us all the more reasons to love and obey our Heavenly Father with meekness and gratitude. As we walk the path of discipleship, it refines us, it improves us, it helps us to become more like Him,and it leads us back to His presence. “The Spirit of the Lord [our God]” brings about such “a mighty change in us, … that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” (President Uchtdorf)

In conclusion, I urge you Christians, please don’t use grace as an excuse. Have your face directed towards Gods at all times. Continually be trying to find Him and reach Him. Allow His grace to change and improve you. Be an example. Shine His light through your words and actions for other to see so that they may find Him and be blessed by His grace as well.

Click here to learn more about the LDS interpretation of Grace.

How do you use Grace in your life?

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Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

  • YES!! I love this post. I think Grace within the Mormon faith is misunderstood both by those outside of the faith and those inside. I also think that grace is often misunderstood and misapplied by those of other Christian faiths. Well written post, Tayler! My ward has been focusing on the Enabling Power of the Atonement (specifically search for a talk from David Bednar on that topic) for about the past year–we often have sacrament talks focused on it. We are learning to apply grace as a way of helping us overcome weaknesses and better ourselves as well. We cannot develop those good habits/overcome bad ones on our own. When we try, we will fail. We need the grace of our Savior to overcome those. I have been learning to seek Christ and not perfection.

    • themorrelltale@gmail.com

      We had that talk as our RS lesson this Sunday! It was great!

  • This was a wonderful read. I can understand how easy it is to use grace to make an excuse for a bad habit. It’s almost like you are using grace to give yourself permission to sin on some occasion. I, unfortunately have no knowledge of the mormon faith or beliefs but I love the gospel. This post was beautifully written!

    • themorrelltale@gmail.com

      Thank you so much! I agree with you thought “it’s almost like you are using grace to give yourself permission to sin on some occasion.” That’s exactly what Paul warns of in Romans!

  • Great post! If you’ve been studying grace, I imagine you’ve read this talk from Brad Wilcox a time or two: https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/brad-wilcox_his-grace-is-sufficient/

    I thought it offered some good insight into grace. My favorite part: “Jesus doesn’t make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us.”

    • themorrelltale@gmail.com

      I’ll definitely have to read that talk! I’ve only read his Continuous Conversion book, which I LOVED, but my sister is obsessed with Wilcox and has taken many classes from him!

  • Jeni

    Love this and having experienced grace in my own life believe you to be right on. Beautifully written.

    • themorrelltale@gmail.com

      Thank you so much! Grace is such an interesting topic of such depth, yet still so simple!

  • Obviously he’s from a very different theological background from you, but you might like to read some of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings on “cheap grace”–with the general message being that we oughtn’t to act like the grace we’ve been given was “cheap.” I read him in college and that had a big influence on my thinking. Also, Paul’s famous statement in Romans “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”
    For my own theology, I can’t approach it as a “believing in works” issue or a “commandments” issue–more of a real faith creates a real change in life issue. If my faith does not impact my everyday values and actions, is it even real? I’d say it’s not.

    • themorrelltale@gmail.com

      I used that same scripture! I might have to check out Bonhoeffer’s writings, it sounds great. And, I agree with you–read faith creates a real change. You are only truly saved when you truly change! That’s what the Atonement is for!

  • This is beautiful! Thanks for sharing on Love the Everyday.

    • Thank you so much, Christine!