Yesterday I was driving home lost in thought. I have been teaching about grace and I was thinking about the tension between grace and law. Flashing red lights behind me gave me a good and unwanted illustration. I had to smile at the incongruity of thinking about grace and getting caught by the law.

I had been a traffic sinner. The law said I was guilty of going over the posted speed limit. I confessed my sin. I tried for grace from the officer. “I have gone twenty-five years without a ticket,” I said affably. “Sorry,” he answered as he handed me the ticket. He was not in the mood for grace and, to be honest, I didn’t deserve it. So there was an expensive illustration of the law without grace.

The law showed me my wrongdoing. A penalty was assessed and had to be paid. Without grace I had to pay the penalty. So I will write a check to the city of Garland to atone for my sin.

In Romans Paul wrote these words.

Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. (Romans 3, NLT)

Nearly forty years ago I realized that I was guilty before God. Jesus had paid my penalty and I simply had to accept that gift of grace by faith. My record was expunged without deferred adjudication or having to take defensive righteousness courses. There was nothing I could do to pay that penalty. It was paid by undeserved grace.

Now I am learning and trusting how grace allows me to live in freedom, joy and without condemnation. As I found out yesterday there are consequences to bad decisions. The city of Garland required payment. Thank God my sin payment has been paid by Jesus Christ. 

Paul went on to write the wonderful news of the Gospel.

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

So I made a bad decision yesterday and had to pay what I deserved for my careless traffic sin. I made a great decision many years ago and I was freed from having to pay the penalty for a lifetime of sin. What grace! I would have preferred a cheaper illustration for Sunday but today I rejoice in the freedom of His amazing grace.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. (Romans 8, NLT)

Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com.