Sin is a Smooth Operator

Hyper-Grace Teacher?

I speak and write a great deal about the freedom we have in Christ. Indeed, one of the most beautiful redundancies in the entire Bible is found in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”

In Romans 5, the apostle Paul is expounding on the grace of God, using a repeated “much more” argument. Read Romans 5 and take note of the repeated use of that phrase. Paul’s treatment of the subject of grace culminates in this statement:

…but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 5:20b-21, NASB

There is something in the teaching of Paul that elevates the grace of God to such a degree that his hearers conclude sin no longer matters. If grace is a wonderful thing (and it is), and grace is extended to cover my sin, then perhaps I should sin extensively and with great purpose so that I receive lots and lots of grace.

There is a certain logic to that line of reasoning – flawed logic, but still logic.

Knowing the minds of his audience, Paul poses that very question:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? – Romans 6:1-2, NASB

When I was a seminary student, one of our instructors commented on this passage saying, “Until you preach the grace of God to the extent that people think sin no longer matters, you haven’t taught grace the way Paul taught it.”

The guardians of orthodoxy are free to label me a “hyper-grace” teacher. I will lock arms with the apostle Paul and continue teaching grace.

But sin does matter, and we must be vigilant in guarding our hearts, minds, and lives against its subtle infiltration.

Sin’s Stealth Entry

For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. – Jude 1:4, NASB

Often, our tendency is to see sin as bold and brash. It is up in our faces with various temptations. “Take me, buy me, give in to me.” And we resist and resist and resist until we cannot resist any longer.

Sometimes that is exactly how it is, but not always. Just as often, sin creeps in like a quiet mouse. It is a termite that becomes ten-thousand termites, and you don’t even know they are there until your house is eaten away.

There is a word in Jude 4 that is terrifyingly descriptive of the entry of sin. It is the word παρεισέδυσαν (pareisedusan) that is translated “came in stealthily.”

This is a compound term that describes one who slid in beside you so quietly you didn’t even know they were there. You turn to the side and are startled as you suddenly realize they are sitting right next to you.

When did they arrive? How did they get there?

You don’t know. But there they are.

That’s how sin operates. It is the hidden reef (Jude 12) that rips a hole in your hull, threatening to sink your boat. Those who embrace it transpose the grace of God into a license for uncontrolled lust. They are those who defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile glories and majesties (Jude 8).

They worm their way into the homes of weak-willed women burdened with sin and driven by impulses (2 Timothy 3:6). They are subtle and conniving, but their end is not a pretty one.

Jude describes them as being marked out for condemnation, just as the unbelieving Israelites were destroyed in the desert rather than entering the promised land. They are like the rebellious angelic host, held in bondage for the day of judgment. They are Sodom and Gomorrah, Cain, Balaam, Korah.

Grace is a beautiful gift, one poured out for our good. And yes, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. – 1 Peter 2:16, NIV-1978

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Victoriously in Christ!

– damon

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11 Comments

  1. Tamela Hancock Murray on July 22, 2020 at 7:00 PM

    Great teaching and awesome blog title!

    • Damon Gray on July 22, 2020 at 8:23 PM

      Thank you Tamela. You’re always such an encouragement.

  2. Peggy Booher on July 22, 2020 at 10:06 PM

    Damon,
    I agree with Tamela. I remember the song, “Smooth Operator”, and your title really caught my eye, but that’s exactly the way sin often is. It probably most often slides in that way, when a person thinks he or she is “too spiritual” or “too mature” to get caught up in things. Spiritual pride can slide in at any time.

    • Damon Gray on July 22, 2020 at 11:57 PM

      You nailed it Peggy. Sade – something like 1994-95ish. I actually had that song whirling in my mind as I came up with the title. Sin is SO deceptive and all too often we are unaware of it until we are neck-deep in the quicksand.

      And pride?? Oh, baby! “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he should fall.”

      Thanks for chiming in. It’s always good to hear from you.

      • Peggy Booher on July 23, 2020 at 12:24 AM

        I could remember the song, but not the singer. You know, I’ll probably have the song in my mind, now!

  3. Peggy Booher on July 25, 2020 at 2:48 AM

    Damon,
    To follow up on yesterday’s comment: I didn’t have “Smooth Operator” running through my mind; instead, I was “Dancin’ In The Stars” courtesy of Mannheim Steamroller! 🙂

    • Damon Gray on July 25, 2020 at 2:44 PM

      OH!! Peggy, I did not know you were a fan of Mannheim Steamroller. FABULOUS musicians. The first for Fresh Aire albums were wonderful.

      Have you seen them live? I’ve seen them twice, once a standard album tour concert, and one Christmas concert.

  4. Peggy Booher on July 26, 2020 at 5:19 AM

    Damon,
    I’ve never been to any of their concerts. I first heard of them back (probably in the 90’s or so) when a dj played their rendition of “Silent Night”–beautiful and the ending put chills down my spine (good chills). I remembered the name of the group and kept an eye out for their CDs. I have at least three of the Christmas ones, and at least two standard ones. “The Music of the Spheres” is space- travel themed, and so that’s the CD “Dancin’ In The Stars” appears in. The other standard one I have is “Romantic Melodies”. I found it at a thrift store; I paid $1.99 for it, I think. As you can guess, I was thrilled!

    • Damon Gray on July 26, 2020 at 5:53 AM

      If you get the chance to see them, do so! It’s a memory you’ll cherish. I saw them in Kansas City in the early 80s. It was standard theater seating and it was a wonderful concert. Chip’s drums lit up as he hit each tom. But the Tacoma WA concert was much better. That was the Christmas concert, and we had a table on the floor of the Tacoma Dome with wine, cheese and meat tray, and they had a beautiful display at the back of the auditorium with a lit up city, snow, the train . . . really a wonderful experience.

      If you can snag them, get the first four Fresh Aire CDs. Actually I bought them back when vinyl was the only option. They were about $35 an album in 1979-1980. That’s a LOT, but I wanted the music so badly that I coughed up the money. (I was a university student at the time.) But, yeah, get those first four, dim the lights, and lay on the floor in the sweet spot of your stereo speakers. You’ll love it.

      By the way, do you remember that old silly movie “Convoy?” Remember the theme song to that? The same guy (Chip Davis) who founded Mannheim Steamroller and puts out all of this lovely music, wrote that theme song to Convoy! I find that hilarious. Multi-talented guy.

  5. Peggy Booher on July 26, 2020 at 11:32 AM

    That is funny.
    I admire anyone with such creativity. I’m listening to “The Music of the Spheres” right now–Launch of Discovery–which combines the launch of the space shuttle Discovery with music. You can hear the communications back and forth between Houston and the shuttle. Listening to the music and how well the musicians capture the idea of flying through space, etc. makes me realize in a small way all the work and creativity involved.

    BTW–I also like “The Muppets”, “Toy Story” and Bob Ross’ “The Joy of Painting” for the creativity displayed. Also, years ago actor Dean Jones put on a one-man show about the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos. He was the only person on a nearly-bare stage. I don’t remember the name of the video or DVD, but it is worth the time.

    • Damon Gray on July 30, 2020 at 4:33 AM

      HA!! How can you NOT love Bob Ross? The guy is a legend.

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