20 Now the law came in [came in alongside] to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
but [adversative] where sin increased [attribute of multiplying],
Sin became exceedingly sinful by the law. One trespass multiplies into many trespasses (v.16). The law caused sin to increase in intensity to make it abundantly clear how it violates a holy God. However, the increase of sin is not the last word; the last word is super-abounding grace. Super-abounding grace gains victory over the sin issue.
Where sin measurably increased, grace increased immeasurably.
Grace is much more effective than the sin issue because God’s grace is infinite. The only issue preventing the increase of grace is man’s denial for the need of grace. The law increases the need for God’s grace and prepares the way for people to accept what they could not do for themselves, what Christ did on their behalf.
The word “grace” carries us into the very heart of God. God never holds back His grace before our sin. No sin of ours can daunt this grace. When Adam sinned God immediately offered His grace by offering a coming Messiah whose “heel” would be injured. He gives grace in spite of our sin. The cross is God’s means of bringing grace to us.
1 Ti 1:15, This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
God gives us working or living grace:
Jas 4:6, But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
Grace caused Paul to work harder than he would have under some rule:
1 Co 15:10, But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
God gives His grace not because He owes us anything but because of the cross. Grace owes us nothing. If grace accepts any kind of payment for what it offers, it is no longer grace but works. There is never an issue of whether I have repented enough, wept enough, or done enough penance.
Neither does God exchange grace for our faith. It is not our faith per se that saves us; it is what we place our faith in—the cross of Christ. Salvation is not the reward for faith. God paid all our debt at the death of Christ.
Eph 2:8, For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.