Often a concept becomes clearer by what it is contrasted to. So let’s look at some examples:
- Debt: “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” (Romans 4:4). The idea of wages again. You cannot be guaranteed favor of God by a contractual arrangement. The concept of earning favor as a right ended at the moment we were declared sinners and thus incurred the unpayable debt of death and eternal suffering.
- Sin: “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21). Here is a contrast to the master called sin . . . a power to coerce us to do evil. Thus grace is presented as a new master, a new power to similarly coerce us to do right.
- Bondage: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14). The domination of this new boss, reigning, is the opposite of bondage. It is still servitude, to be clear, as pointed out here:“For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Romans 6:20-22)
So . . . Freedom in grace is the freedom to do what God wants us to. We are not free to do as we please, but “Free to be good”. More on that next.