OUTSIDE OF KARMA, Part 2 ~ 8/4/10

God of all grace, whose thoughts toward us are ever thoughts of peace and not of evil, give us hearts to believe that we are accepted in the Beloved; and give us minds to admire that perfection of moral wisdom which found a way to preserve the integrity of heaven and yet receive us there. Amen”  -- A.W. Tozer

If Karma is getting what we deserve, and the Bible defines PUNISHMENT as the only thing we actually deserve, where does grace fit into Karma? How do we escape the punishment that we deserve? That question suddenly becomes incredibly important when all the colorful petals are ripped off of Karma, leaving only jagged thorns.
So where does grace fit in?
Grace fits in by breaking out.
Grace breaks the equation of “you get what you deserve.”
It breaks it.
Grace packs its bags and moves outside the territory of ‘you’ve got it coming.’
Grace travels outside the clutches of karma because grace, by definition, means you don’t get what you deserve.

But there’s a catch. And it’s an important catch. Because it’s what differentiates ‘grace’ from ‘leniency.’ Do you get off scott-free because God is too loving and kind and grandfatherly to hold you accountable for the wrong you’ve done, winking at your sin while looking the other way? Oh no, that’s leniency, and it’s a way of thinking that holds no water according to Romans chapter 2, verses 3,4—“Do you suppose, O man…that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” You know what they say about assuming, don’t you? Presuming does the same thing.

Grace is not leniency, it’s not a loophole in the system of cosmic justice. Loopholes sidestep justice, but grace is only possible because cosmic justice has already been satisfied. Grace exists outside the reach of Karma only because justice has already been satisfied when it comes to the human heart before God. When I take someone out to lunch, they leave the restaurant without paying a cent, not because the meal was free or because we snuck out the back without paying, but because I picked up the tab. You and I can experience grace for free because the tab for justice has already been paid by someone else, making ‘Karma’ or penance or any other form of scale-balancing soul-punishment completely redundant, unnecessary and legally groundless. It’s a ‘double-jeopardy’ kind of thing; someone else has already been convicted for your crimes, in your name—you can’t be tried for them again. What you sent around, already ‘came around’ to someone else. So now you’re free to experience something outside the realm of Karma.
What you deserve has already been ‘gotten’ by someone else. So now you’re free to take in something outside of Karma.
The consequences of what you sowed, someone else has already ‘reaped.’ So now you’re free to harvest something outside of Karma.

In pastor Bill’s “Inner Mess” book, he quotes Lewis Sperry Chafer, who said, in 1933—
Grace is more than love; it is love set absolutely free and made to be a triumphant victor over the righteous judgment of God against the sinner.” You and I are able to experience grace because somebody did something that made it possible for God to let go of a valid grudge against you and love you instead. Isn’t that great? God loves you! But who set love absolutely free from behind the safety glass of justice, set it free to offer hope into the context of doom and judgment that hung over the heads of all humanity? Keep in mind, we’re talking about a righteous, holy judgment we all deserve—
So who did it?
Who broke the glass?
Who paid the tab for us?
Who set the love of God the Father absolutely free to be ‘shed abroad in our hearts’ (Romans 5:5), while we were still guilty of wrongdoing (Romans 5:8)?
God the Son, that’s who. We call Him Jesus.

The Bible says that justice decreed your death for your sin (Romans 6:23).
The Bible says that God was not satisfied with Justice on those terms (2 Peter 3:9).
God did not want you and everyone else on earth to suffer a powerless life and a  hopeless death because of your disobedience— but in order for the terms of justice to remain intact, for God to remain a just God, someone’s blood had to be spilled. That was the law, and the price-tag attached to breaking it; the tab had to be paid. He could not just do away with the law. That would have been leniency, irreparably tarnishing the holiness of God.
The Bible says that God chose to act in an unnecessary way that moved beyond the realm of justice, by involving Himself and allowing His Son Jesus to willingly act as a substitute for you. (John 3:16).
The Bible says that God the Father allowed His son to both satisfy the requirements of cosmic justice, and to do it in such a way that it counted for each and every person on earth (Romans 5:15-17). And because of ALL THAT—you can experience grace.

Grace travels outside of Karma.
Do you travel outside of grace?
If you want it, it’s yours:
In humility, repent—admit your faults to God and ask for forgiveness.
In gratitude, believe—that Jesus has already faced and satisfied a Justice much bigger than Karma, in your place.
And in faith, choose—to travel the rest of your life outside of the fear your past deserves.
Because with Jesus, the past is past—
And the future is freedom.

Surrounded By Grace,


  1. Hey Josh, what a great blog site. I enjoyed your post and video--you are doing great things. I am stuggling with the difference between "grace" and "faith". Grace is the work done by Christ to offer salvation. Faith is what we do to receive grace (faith is also a gift according to scripture--that makes it right). We are saved by grace, through faith....(not by our works so no one can boast). I get all that but what is faith? I read and teach, as you do we must "repent", "believe", and "in faith choose" if you want "grace". What do you think that is? For me it is beginning to look a lot like works--I'm confused...any thoughts?

    Your fellow servant of Christ
    David Mantei

  2. Hi Josh...really nice post. I love God's grace!! It is all consuming and constantly surrounding. One thing I wonder about tho is this "leniency" thing. Sometimes I feel confused (mostly with my kids) about when they need discipline and consequence and when I should show grace. God always shows me grace but as a good parent does that mean that I should always show grace too? It does not feel right to me (as a parent), but when I am the child (of God) it gives me great joy!! So...what do you think? Anything you know or have read that could help give some clarity? Thanks heather

  3. Josh...I have been reading "Redeeming Love"....what can I say other than...thank you. I needed this blog today.

  4. Thanks Dave, I really appreciate your question and I do have some thoughts. Let me know if this is helpful…

    As you know, both 'grace' and 'faith' are active for both salvation to happen and for sanctification (the process of being made holy) to happen in a person's life. In other words, 'Grace is the work done by Christ to offer salvation,' grace is the work done by Christ to give us the ability to want and to choose salvation, and grace is the work done by Christ to make us progressively more like Him from that point on (to keep and mature our salvation).

    Grace is the earth dug out for the foundation and the shovel used to dig it, grace is the mortar holding the foundation of grace rocks together, grace is the 2x4’s that start forming the walls and the oriented strand board that gives the wood its shear strength when strong winds blow. As the second floor goes up, grace is the staircase and the bracing and the scaffolding. By grace the building of our salvation is conceived, by grace it is begun, by grace it is built and by grace it is completed (Phil. 1:6).

    So ‘what is faith?” you asked—faith is the grace-enabled choice to take God at His word. Both a grace-enabled choice at the moment of salvation, and a grace-empowered choice in every step of the post-salvation life. You said it—‘faith is a gift’—and for it to really be a gift it’s got to either be 100% given by God or its got to be called something else—like ‘works.’ If grace does not come first as a gift from God, then even faith becomes just another form of works that we can claim credit for having mustered up ourselves. It is the gift of grace that must first give sight to blind gropers after truth (Acts 17:27) so they can then see and choose the cross of Christ.

    Grace induces faith and grace is obligated to faith—we’re surrounded by grace!

  5. Hi Heather—let me see if this helps.

    I sense your confusion is in seeing the difference between PUNISHMENT & DISCIPLINE. We often use those words interchangeably and maybe I should have used a different word in my post like ‘judgment,’ instead of punishment, but I believe the difference is that the ‘punishment’ I’m referring to in the post is a bad thing for us. Whether that’s a ‘something bad is going to happen any minute’ kind of feeling that hangs over your head on a day-to-day basis or the storing up, over time, of the wrath of God against you (Romans 2:5), the punishment I was talking about is always connected to God not being happy with you, and that never ends well. But the discipline of God is different, because at it’s core is love, not anger—so that often in the Bible we see that discipline is the grace of God!

    Discipline isn’t that terror-filled suspense of waiting for the other shoe to drop; we know discipline because its design is not to destroy us but to lead us into greater spiritual maturity. For example, A.B. Simpson writes about the power of the tongue in James chapter 3 and says this—“So the tongue is like a bridle, which can be put upon us. With a fiery horse you put a curb in its bit. The idea is to hurt it, if it pulls against the bit. So God has given to us checks upon our tongue, making it hurt us, if we speak unadvisedly. If you succeed in speaking unadvisedly, the curb will hurt you so much you will have to go and take it back. He wants it to hurt us, so we will not do it again. Don’t try to get out of it easily, but let God’s discipline be as hard as He pleases, and go honestly and manfully and have it out.”

    God wants us to learn Christ-likeness, and some of us have to learn the hard way (enter discipline). Leniency, in this case, would be for God to let you get away with the pain your speech causes, doing the triple damage of wounding another person, stunting your own maturity and dishonoring His name.

  6. High five, dude! I love the way you preach grace, it's time for everyone to understand what grace means and to accept that the price is paid by Jesus, and I think you explain it wonderfully. Keep it up!


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*Grace induces faith & Grace is obligated to faith ~