“And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, 12 then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13 It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. 14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— 15 for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.” –Deuteronomy 6:10-15
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” -Romans 6:1-2
The gospel of God is the most generous gift of all time. It is worth the most and it cost us nothing. God purchased our forgiveness, our righteousness, our everlasting life, and every spiritual blessing through the costly sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
The gospel was foreshadowed in the form of the Promise Land, which was full of “cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant” (Deuteronomy 6:10). The generosity of God is shown through his lavish gifts given to his people who are completely undeserving.
With such a generous God on our behalf, much comfort and peace should fill our hearts. But with this lavish love of God, it is all too easy to forget that though God is amazingly generous, he is also extremely jealous.
After Moses’ reminds the Israelites of the great gifts of God, he then instructs them to “take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the LORD your God you shall fear . . . for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 6:13-15).
Likewise, when we begin to realize how undeserving we are and yet how much God has blessed us spiritually through the gospel, the greatest danger is to think God’s generosity somehow cancels his jealously.
God’s gifts are free, they can never be taken away, and we could never earn them or lose them through our own power. And having said all of that, nowhere in these verses or anywhere else in the Bible is there an excuse to go on living in sin, thinking that because God is generous he is not also jealous for our undivided devotion and love.
The grace of God is not a license to sin. The generosity of God is not an excuse to disobey. Thinking that God will bless us despite our disobedience just as he did from the start is foolishness personified. God saved us while we were still his enemies not so this would be the regular pattern in our relationship with God. God rescued us while we were his enemies so that a real reconciliation would happen, thus a real relationship would then ensue (Romans 5:8-11).
God’s inexhaustible grace is not the reason we can sin endlessly and be forgiven (though his grace is enough no matter how much we sin); it is now the reason we should truly be changed and honor God in obedience. Since God’s love is endless, we should not be growing in sin, but growing in freedom from sin, growing each time we fail and then are forgiven. When you receive real forgiveness, the right response is freedom, not endless rebellion.
When Paul stated in Romans 5:20 that “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,” he knew the temptation would be to abuse the grace in our own self-centeredness. Therefore he qualifies the generosity of God just like Moses did for the Israelites, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2).
In Joshua’s parting words, God explains the same, “I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant. Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:13-14).
God gave us everything for nothing, “therefore” the proper response is not less obedience but more. God’s generosity never contradicts his jealousy. His generosity is there to support his jealously. His generosity seeks to create a people so devoted to himself it satisfies his jealousy. He gave us everything for nothing so that we will withhold nothing and give everything to him in return. His grace should now fuel our passionate obedience, not our disobedience.
The gospel may have cost us nothing, but when we receive it, we will give up everything in response.