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153: The Balance of God’s Grace (Part 1)

Dr. Kevin Carson

FREE ebook by Dr. Kevin Carson


153: The Balance of God's Grace (Part 1)

The Biblical Counseling Podcast is privileged to have Kevin Carson (IABC Board Member) in this week’s podcast.

Here Kevin and Jeff provided their personal invitation to everyone to join the International Association of Biblical Counselors Annual Conference (July 28-29, 2022 at Edgemont Baptist Church in Illinois). This year’s conference is titled, “Counseling Life’s Most Difficult Issues''.

Register early to the IABC 2022 Conference

*Originally posted on blog

The blog (and ebook) has explored the comfort of God’s grace, the call of God’s grace, the identity of the flesh, and how to put to death the flesh. Today, we consider the balance of God’s grace. Understanding the balance of God’s grace helps the follower of Christ both move forward in personal sanctification as well as when helping others in personal ministry as well.


As Paul has described the work of God in Romans 8, he included a two-sided sense of grace. The comfort of God’s grace means that the adopted child of God no longer faces condemnation, enjoys the personal work of the Holy Spirit, and can call God “Daddy.” As those who still sin, this comfort reverberates deep in the soul. Each person understands the incredible toll that personal sin can have. Moving throughout a particular day or season, personal sin weighs heavy. The comfort of God’s grace can easily slip out of one’s thinking and consideration. When this happens, the Christ-follower becomes further alienated from Christ and the Gospel. Therefore, the comfort of God’s grace helps provide buoyancy for daily living. We are accepted in Christ without condemnation. Praise the Lord.

However grace also has a direction. We are not simply accepted in Christ to do whatever we wish as those who are not condemned. Instead, since we walk in the Spirit as those in Christ, we now are to put to death the deeds of the flesh. In other words, grace has a call toward increasing Christlikeness, which we refer to as personal sanctification.Therefore, we would summarize by emphasizing that grace has a direction.

Justification → Adoption → Sanctification → Glorification

As those who have been declared innocent of our sins because of the work of God in Christ (justification), we enjoy adoption as children (joint heirs with Christ) of God. As children, we strive to look more like our Savior / Brother Jesus. We diligently work to put off deeds of the flesh and walk in the Spirit (sanctification). As we do, we are encouraged in our faith, assured of eternal life, and anticipate the future day of complete redemption in heaven (glorification). 


Often we simply define grace as unmerited favor from God to us. Further unpacking grace emphasizes both the mercy and grace of God. In mercy God chooses to not give us what we deserve. Our sins and rebellion demand a payment. Paul described it so simply, “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 3:23). However, in mercy, God allowed Jesus to be our vicarious substitute. Jesus suffered death so that we did not have to do so – mercy (Rom 5:8-9). Furthermore, God did not simply keep us from suffering under the just damnation of our sin, He also provided eternal life, a forever familial relationship with Him,the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and hope. In other words, we were not simply spared from God’s wrath which we deserved, we also enjoy the richness of God’s grace (Rom 5:15-19; Eph 2:4-7). We receive grace upon grace, the abundance of God’s kindness. God does more than withhold punishment (mercy), God provides for us so much more – grace. 

This kind of grace is grace unto change. By grace unto change, we refer to two different aspects of grace. We are accepted just as we are at salvation; then, we grow to become more like Christ as a result.I love how David Powlison described it as the From – To agenda of grace. From what we were – To what God makes us. Paul Tripp helped me initially understand this back in the late 1990s. His help has since provided me both a new outlook on daily living as well as the sanctification process.


We desire to understand God’s grace in balance. If we only think of the comfort of God’s grace, we miss that grace has a direction and agenda. If we only consider the call of God’s grace, we end up being legalistic, list-oriented, and evaluating our relationship with God almost exclusively by our spiritual resume of service. Yet, both are necessary. In our struggle to live every day as a Christ-exalting, God-honoring, Spirit-enabled adopted child of God, we need the comfort of God’s grace when we face temptation and sin. Further, as we rejoice in the comfort of God’s grace, we need the call of grace to keep us on agenda, moving in our sanctification, and using our spiritual energy to walk in the Spiritand by love serve others. 

As we live together as brothers and sisters in Christ who enjoy all the benefits of relationship in the body of Christ, there is work for us to do personally and corporately. As recipients of God’s grace, we become stewards of that grace. Thus, we need to offer others the same grace we have received. Let me suggest four cautions when we offer others the same grace we have received from God.


As we serve others, we do them a disservice where and when we fail to include the call of God’s grace with the comfort of it. God did not accept us without an agenda. We and those we serve must embrace the forward call of grace while rejoicing in the comfort of grace. 


We likewise want to be careful here as well. We do a disservice to others when we explain grace as a call to change without resting that call on the rich foundation of the comfort of God’s grace. While we seek to change, we do so as adopted children of God who are no longer condemned.


As we seek to help others understand grace, we are not simply “explainers” or “teachers” of grace. We must also roll up our shirt sleeves and help them embrace it in life-lived. We walk with the other person along the pathway of sanctification.

  • Velma J Knapp says:

    This Podcast was a great reminder of who we are Christ. Grace starts with, “While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Then when we become a believer, it is by Grace that we are saved. We are who we are today because of God’s grace. The “from who we are/were to, what we will be, is also by Grace, because God has a plan for each and every one of us. In Romans 8:1, it says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We put to death the deeds of the flesh and live for Christ. That is our goal. God continues to give us grace as we grow in His word and become more Christ like. I like when Jeff or Kevin said, “We are walking thru things just like our counselees. Sometimes we think that we have it all together, or we get prideful. I like to say, “If you think that you don’t have any problems, then “that” is your problem:)”.

  • Serena Chavez says:

    I have listened to this podcast a few times now, and each time around, I am pulling different things that hit my soul. Today as I have finally been able to fully focus, when Dr. Kevin Carson had talked about the “From-To Agenda” and how some counselee’s or us might be in a season of struggle, sin, etc
    I sat for a moment and really took this in, at this time I feel very overwhelmed with work, homeschooling my children, ministry and school for myself, therefore allowing any free time to be just what it is “free” not doing anything . This is very unlike me, as I always try to stay on top of it all. Writing what the From, To meant, I wrote down my own where I came from before Christ, and what I am today because of HIM! A Pastor’s wife, a mother, a Pro-Life advocate, a sister and friend. HE has re-established relationships with family, and restored. HE has forgiven me of much and placed me exactly where HE wants me, by Gods wonderful Grace, I have been saved and will continue to be. How can I sit in the “free” moments and not give God my all in all my moments. Thanking God for HIS Beautiful Grace.

    • Velma J Knapp says:

      Serena, very well put. I am one who has also tried to stay on top of things. As I have gotten older, I realize that I need to surrender more and more to Christ, because He understands it all. I just can’t control everything. In Romans 7:15 it says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” This is me. Thank you, Lord, for your Grace!

  • Ann-Louise Graham says:

    Praise God that there is grace for sanctification and that it is a work both of the Holy Spirit and our willing cooperation. The apostle Paul’s pattern was always to present right theology as the foundation for an understanding of right behaviour. That is the pattern of scripture and should be my pattern too as I work with others in need. Because truly as we understand and meditate on the mercies of God in Christ – the overflow is an increasingly sanctified life. A commitment towards the onward and upward call of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • Vanessa Salazar says:

    I appreciated the discussion near the beginning of the podcast about time you spend in Romans 7. We are all human and fall short of the glory of God. Paul recognizes that he too is “all too human, a slave to sin” in verse 14. Even those who are leaders in ministry require God’s grace and growth in their walk.

  • Ken Rutz says:

    God’s Grace is at the very unique and distinct core of Christianity. However, as Romans and this podcast have clearly elucidated there is the comfort of God’s grace as well as the call of God’s grace. We begin in Grace, are justified by grace, sanctified by grace, sustained by grace, confirmed by grace, comforted by grace, strengthened by grace, convicted by grace, disciplined in grace, established by grace and glorified by grace. Every step of the way from salvation to glorification is by God’s grace which precludes any human wisdom or boasting. God’s grace is in all and through all of his children, which leaves us with only one response…. THANKSGIVING! (Praise & worship). This is the “discipline” and “fuel” of the Christian life that will get us across the finish line.

    • Vanessa Salazar says:

      Ken, that was very wonderfully said! Ephesians 1 discusses how God chose us and loved us before He even made the world. Paul goes to write that God’s plan for us was to adopt us into His family through the blood of Jesus. Verse 6, “So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to His dear son.”

    • Ann-Louise Graham says:

      Amen. I love that it’s all by grace. And that there is this sustained momentum towards change and ultimately – one day – glorification. Praise God indeed.

    • Serena Chavez says:

      Absolutely agree with every word you spoke of. Especially thanksgiving, in Romans 7 Paul say’s “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”
      ‭‭Romans‬ ‭7:24-25‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
      In these verses we see that Thanksgiving takes place.
      As Christians and believers of Christ once we have received Grace into Salvation, we are to continue to walk in His path for us giving all praise, honor and worship to HIM.

  • Angela C Shaffer says:

    I love the reminder that we need to not only share God’s grace with others, but we need to share with others why they need that grace. On the other hand I have attended services where the preacher only shouts how we are sinners and deserve hell, but doesn’t balance it with the saving grace in Christ Jesus. I am humbled that the Lord would use someone like me to come along side another person and help them in their walk. I always need to remember the grace that God gave me, and be quick to extend that to others in the same manner.

  • Charles Jerabek says:

    We don’t deserve being called “not guilty”. Just the not guilty part is over the top amazing love. And then we become adapted into the family of God, called a friend, even a brother. God gives us His Spirit to help, and he keeps helping us even when we make the same mistake over and over again. How can we not give our lives, our future, our whole will to God. This love of God is too much, there are no words that can express His height of kindness, this grace above all understanding.

    • Angela C Shaffer says:

      Yes!!! It truly is amazing when you really take the time to sit down and think about what we truly deserve, yet God loves us so much that He gave His Son as payment for our sins, so He could have a relationship with us. Sometimes it seems too much to be able to comprehend why God would want a relationship with me with all the things I have done, but I am so thankful for His love and grace, and want to help others find that same thing.

    • Ken Rutz says:

      Amen & Amen to that! Our everlasting response throughout eternity will be One of Thanksgiving, Praise and Worship (Rev 4 & 5; Romans 11:33-36; Eph. 3:21,22). If thanksgiving is not THE motivation behind the call of God’s grace then we’ve missed the CENTRAL message of the gospel (Good News)

    • Serena Chavez says:

      Charles, when Dr. Kevin Carson had given an image for us to see what that looks like, that Abundant Grace and Love that only Christ can give, is truly a gift! Aren’t we as believers so blessed!

  • Donald Knapp says:

    Listening to this podcast brought me to a new sense of humility in my own life and in my counseling. I often refer to Paul’s honesty in Romans 7 when I struggle with sin in my life or I am counseling some one who is struggling with sin. However, it really hit home for me when I heard the OJ Simpson example it spoke to my heart that I am guilty but God because of His grace still wants me as part of His family. It told me how far I still need to travel to understand grace. For me that is a truly humbling thought how much more grace i need to give to others. The other part that brought me to my knees was when Dr. Carson described grace as moving us onto sanctification and he said, that we are walking by grace towards the same destination as our counselees. Sometimes in my counseling I can forget that we are all in this walk together and I need to humble myself before God, every second, every minute every hour of every day.

  • Joycelyn Hoyte says:

    Just wanted to share another truth that blessed me from this podcast and it is the “From To Agenda”. Not from as the past where God saved me from but where I am now to where God is taking me, how He is pointing me to the person He created me to be. This brings alive the subject of sanctification and how my daily life is a work in progress that Gods grace is taking me from all types of “froms”, from sinful thinking, from doubting, from the flesh, from self to that image of Christ that He God is forming in me. I’m so grateful that God does not want me to settle until that day when I would be glorified in Him by this same grace that will lead me in His eternal presence.Getting this larger picture of grace as Dr. Carson shared was very encouraging to learn.

  • Joycelyn Hoyte says:

    I truly appreciated this discussion on the balance of grace. The concept of grace being a call and not a comfort only was really enlightening for me because we can easily settle with the comfort of being saved by grace that we miss that there is a call to fulfill now that we have been saved or let’s say being saved by this grace. The grace of God is what is empowering me, strengthening me, purifying me every day and keeping me from the path of sin. The grace of God is truly amazing. This grace is changing me to be more Christlike. This teaching has really given me a greater appreciation for what Jesus has done and is doing for all His children who have received His grace.Dr. Carson bought so much truths to light in this discussion.

  • Ilene Hayes says:

    The analogy given regarding the “OJ trial” caused me to think about how amazing grace really is. I remember watching the bronco, and the trial, and forming my own opinion in regard to OJ’s guilt, but as Dr. Carson shared on the podcast about the judge declaring OJ innocent and then welcoming him into his family as a picture of God adopting me into His family after Jesus took my sin (guilt) upon Himself really blessed me, and made me realize that I fall short when it comes to offering grace to others, (and myself sometimes).

  • Dean DeGroot says:

    Living in grace everyday sure takes the weight off of my back. He knows who I am, He paid for me even though He knew how faulty I was, and still invests in me though I fail. Thank God, and may He help me to share the wonders of His grace with as many people as I can through this life.

    • Ilene Hayes says:

      I feel the same way about living in grace. As I consider my sin, and what I have been forgiven of, I sit in awe that God would send His only begotten Son to die for me, adopt me into His family, and continue to strengthen and encourage me everyday!

    • Donald Knapp says:

      I couldn’t agree more Dean. Even when I fail which is quite often I know He has already paid the price and His grace does take the weight off.

    • Charles Jerabek says:

      May He empower you to share that grace, may He give you the ideas, the inspiration, the wisdom and understanding how to share His love. May His Spirit speak words of wisdom to you and through you to share this grace with the people around you.

  • Erin Foster says:

    I appreciated this call to take a second look at the idea of “grace upon grace,” and how vast the grace of God is towards us in Christ Jesus. Unlike OJ who was acquitted as “not guilty”, the perfectly Just Judge declared all of us in Adam as “guilty”, but Jesus stepped in and took the total punishment on our behalf, declaring us free, penalty paid, and like we were reminded, even then adopted us into His family and gave us His love. Beautiful reminders, thank you!

    • Ann-Louise Graham says:

      I agree Erin, so important to remember that we were guilty, but the Lord provided a perfect, spotless, innocent substitute to pay the penalty, while we – the guilty – walked away justified. What grace!

  • Timothy Graham says:

    It is such a powerful truth: Grace is not only a comfort, it’s a calling. It’s also encouraging thing to see grace as a continual process. It was not just a “one-and-done” it is a day in and day out receiving of grace that we are to be living in; not that Christ’s sacrificial grace was not a “one and done,” but that our daily walk should be receiving of grace. As a dove perched on our shoulder, we should carry the Spirit and His grace on our lives with every step we take. Grace unto sanctification; consistently submitting to the will of God. And as we are doing so, the calling is also placed on our lives to encourage others to do the same.

    • Joycelyn Hoyte says:

      Timothy, The fact that grace is a continual process and a calling was also for me very encouraging and one of my strong take away truths from this podcast. This grace not only saves but it’s saving.

    • Donald Knapp says:

      I believe Tim that grace is what makes us different from the world around us. If we are truly disciples of Christ, grace through the Spirit that dwells in us gives us the ability to love one another and encourage others to do the same. Thanks for the great reminder Tim.

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