Powerless laws – enabling grace

enabling power

Grace Enables

Traffic signals have legal authority but no power to control the flow of traffic.

The weak link in living by rules and regulations is their lack of enabling power.  The best a rule can do is tell you to stop or start a behavior.   For example, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart,” tells you what to do but can’t enable you to do it.

Laws can’t enable.  Speed limit signs tell you not to exceed their limit but they have no power to control your speed.

Laws can point out violations.  We feel the sting of violation every time we get a speeding ticket.  By the way, like laws, legalists can only do two things; point out violations and condemn.  They are like nagging parents constantly point out our faults and telling us what to do.

Finally, laws incite a desire to break them. I know it’s wrong but telling me not to do something makes me want to do it.

In summary, laws explain desired behaviors but they don’t enable desired behaviors.

Grace Enables.

In 2Cor. 12:9, grace is synonymous with enabling power. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I wrote this poem in the back of my Bible.  I don’t know the author but it explains the difference between impotent laws and enabling grace.

Work, work the law demands
but gives me neither feet nor hands.

Grace a sweeter message brings
it bids me fly and gives me wings.

Before you get the wrong idea, please notice that God’s enabling grace did not turn Paul into a super saint.  During enabling, Paul continued in weakness.  Empowerment isn’t exemption from weaknesses but enabling through weaknesses.

What expressions of enabling grace have you seen?  How do you respond to the idea that enabling grace is not exemption from weakness?

Grace Freak

Dan Rockwell

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10 Comments on “Powerless laws – enabling grace”

  1. landsway Says:

    Again clear and to the point. So many in the church today are legalists who are so quick to condemn. Not so many want to show to others the grace they expect to be given to them. One of my favorite characters in the Bible is the man who, when the Pharisees were praying loud and demanding attention,stood in the corner beating on his chest saying “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

    I recommend your blog to everyone.

    • Dan Rockwell Says:


      Thank you for the good word. You are an encouragement. I love it when you say that not so many want to share the grace they have received. I call them grace haters. They are like Jonah.

      I appreciate that you recommend Grace Freak. It’s people like you who are using their influence that help get the message of grace out to more people.



  2. Jared Young Says:

    I am speaking on a topic similar to this with the them Your Voice/God’s Power coming up in March. I think I am going to use that nifty little poem you wrote to cap it off. It’s about how we as missionaries can use our voice and preach all we want from the Bible but without God’s enablement (power) behind that, it is fruitless mindless talk/work.
    This post came in a timely manner b/c it gave me clearer direction on where I want to go with my talk. Thanks again Dan.

  3. Scott Says:

    I love your life application and analogies!
    You’re the man brotha Dan!

  4. Paul Graves Says:

    This makes me think of when I was a very new Christian at college, and I stumbled upon Colossians 2:20-23 “They [rules] lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence”

    It was a real eye openner to me, as there was a lot of discussion at the time regarding appropriate conduct for Christians when they are dating. The church I attended had a list of rules to help young adults stay pure. These were given out with the best of intentions, but they never really rang true, and ended up not helping. Seems like the bible was right after all!

  5. grindael Says:

    Reading this brought to mind a scripture in Ephesians that reads:

    “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance [by the Grace of God] until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

    The bracketed words are mine. We believe, have faith and by his grace we are guaranteed our inheritance –for what purpose? To the Praise of HIS Glory!

    It is all so very simple, really. And with the Holy Spirit comes the change in us [enabled by Grace] that bears the fruit, not the other way around – (those that say we must do works to prove to God that we are worthy to receive it), because really, we never will be.

    • Dan Rockwell Says:


      Thanks for stopping in and being another first time commenter. Love the verse you remind everyone of…

      I think it is simple as long as we don’t meddle in God’s business by trying to help Him out.



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