We get a picture of true grace when we examine the counterfeits.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky helps us see some of these in “The Grand Inquisitor,” a segment from “The Brothers Karamazov”
Dostoyevsky sites “freedom of conscience” as man’s greatest seduction, and for this is offered three false graces:
All of these appeal to the masses of humanity who flee the responsibility which comes with true freedom — The grace offered all men through Christ.
In short, our miracle could be a free food handout, a lottery hit, a long lost uncle’s death and inheritance. As men followed Jesus for the bread of a miraculous multiplication, so men seek the peace of full stomachs. Selling of one’s body for gain finds justification in a hopeless “waiting for my miracle” existence.
Mystery and its mesmerizing allows folks to have purpose, though the purpose has no ultimate fulfilling, it provides enough for the religious heart. It allows man to say, “one day all will be clear, but not today.” It appeases the conscience as only religion can.
Authority, of course is very Biblical and valuable when it’s under God, but becomes false when men submit blindly to other men for the sake of that other’s taking care of them, and a sense of belonging.
Mongers of all categories fill this description: sex fiends, thieves, evil business leaders, evil government officials, prostitutes and pimps.
To embrace the false hope of a miracle, the endless enticement of a mystery, or the willful submission to corrupt authority for survival — you have long ago passed through the first precipice:
Something lacks in these many: only God’s grace can provide it —
Faith, true hope, and love.
In Dostoyevsky’s book he paints an allegory. Christ appears in 16th century Spain, a casket of a small child is brought before Him and He raises the dead child who smiles and waves. All are elated and amazed but the religious leader orders the Christ to be jailed. It seems that the grace exhibited by Christ here exposes the false graces; decapitates the false authority, ends the mystery, provides the much despaired-for miracle.
It absolutely re-invigorates faith, hope and love.
True grace makes faith come alive, makes hope a confident expectation, makes love possible in a secure reality.
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now I’m found, twas blind but now I see!”
False grace holds man in his ignorant and blinded state, despairing, embracing mere survival as his or her only safe bet for life.
So, what can we learn?
We can glean this: Satan will use false grace to ruin your joy. He gives forever-waiting faith in a miracle promised to come, false hope in a mystery promised to be understood, false authority as a compromising good for now, since true freedom would be “too” hard anyway. False grace allows men to sin freely in their weakness bringing more distress; it treats grace as a licence to utterly magnify the impossibility of life.
But, true grace means: the love poured out from Calvary’s tree can be accessed today, right now, presently, without exception, and authorized from the Most High. His Word of grace describes it, His Holy Spirit imparts it mentally, spiritually and physically, and the Father delights in it.
It’s mine, it’s yours, it’s ours. It changes man’s impossible state to “all things are possible.” Its liberty enables free-will choosing with confidence. Its love brings all to “never fail, hope all things, and believe all things.” Thank you Jesus!