For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace – Romans 6:14
There are two types of coaches. For one players will run through walls and bring home championships. They will kill themselves to be victorious. But, they win out of fear. Of the coach. And what will happen if they lose. He is comprised of wrath and fury and mercilessness. They win because they know what awaits them if they don’t. Flying clipboards. Insults. Shouts. Pain and repetition. They win because they fear the film room on Monday where shame is handed out. Every failure paused and rewound and rubbed in the wound of an obvious inadequacy. Contempt roams the sidelines. There is the crack of a whip. They win because they fear facing it, but not because they love the game, or the coach. Love was long ago surrendered to task. Neither is there joy in the trophy, or the triumph. He cares only for the score. His players are always before him in a line. Like prisoners at roll call.
For the other his players will run through walls and bring home championships. They too will kill themselves to be victorious. But, they win out of love. They sacrifice everything because they love the coach and because they know he loves them. And they love pleasing him. And they hate losing for him just the same. But, they do not fear losing. For competing includes both winning and losing. For such is the purpose of the coach. Their inadequacies are safe before him. He is comprised of wisdom and skill and charity. He prefers the heart of the player to achievement and they prefer his practices to games. For here they find assistance and skill and wisdom, not in winning, but in playing well. Here they learn to love the game and its rules. On Monday in the film room every player hopes his deficiencies are brought into focus because his correction is a sort of freedom. A friend roams the sideline. There is a look of approval. Win or lose. They win because they love to see it. Joy is not found in the trophy or the triumph, but in the game and the coach and being his player. His players encircle him. Like sheep will a shepherd.
The law is the merciless coach. It could care less about excuses, or inabilities. It has only one concern – that we perfectly perform. It says, “Do this and live.” But, it neither offers us aid, nor has any compassion for our condition. We are a number on a roster. The law isn’t malicious. It’s merely dispassionate. It literally does not care about who you are. It cannot help but shame us as it exposes our failure. Under the LAW the condition of acceptance was obedience. Since obedience was impossible given our sinfulness we remained permanently unacceptable. Grace is the other coach. It too does not care who you are. It ignores both who you are and what you have done. It too dismisses your efforts as futile. Like the law, it is well aware of your inadequacy and offers you no assistance in your obligation to satisfy the Law. Instead it satisfies it for you and gives you the freedom to obey it simultaneously. Because a righteousness has been given to you by faith which was not your own, we remain permanently acceptable. Grace is no less a tyrant than Law. It too will never let you escape its domain.