I was recently asked by a friend this question: "Why is the message of grace challenged so much by religious people when the Scriptural evidence for grace is so abundant and clear as in Romans and Galatians?" That is a great question. It is a question I have been asked over and over again by those who have received God's grace through faith (Romans 5:17) concerning the religious group who reject God's grace. Here is my response to that question:
Hello John! Great question. Grace challenges the very belief system of religious people. It is counter to most everything they have been taught and believe about God and his word. So when they hear it for the first time, it is hard for them to accept it as truth. Just like with Jesus and the Pharisees, the grace being lavished upon sinners through the kindness and forgiveness of Jesus was contrary to their entire belief system about God.
A great example of this is in Luke 7 when an immoral woman went into the home of a Pharisee while Jesus was at the Pharisee's home. Jesus lavished grace upon her, the Pharisees lavished hate upon her and Jesus.
Another example is when the prodigal (sinner) came home, the older brother, who represents the Pharisees in the story, was angry at his Father. The point of Jesus' story is that the Pharisees were angry at God in the time of Jesus for the grace he poured out upon the sinner. In the same way today, the modern day Pharisees are angry at God for his grace. Yet, they would never admit that, nor would the Pharisees in Jesus' time. But that is who they are angry with when it comes to grace, God himself!
The reason the religious can't see what is abundant and obvious in the Bible concerning grace is because their hearts are hard, as were the Pharisees' hearts in Jesus' time. Jesus shared a parable about the hardheartedness of the Pharisees in the Parable of the Sower. The seed cast on the hard ground is the seed of God's word. Jesus was the farmer who was sowing seeds of grace. Satan came and stole away the seeds of grace from the hardhearted Pharisees because they are of their Father the devil (John 8:44). The Pharisees were the offspring of Satan which God spoke of in Genesis 3:15. Today, religious people and religious systems which oppose grace are the very offspring of Satan. Their hearts are hard toward God's grace freely given us in Jesus (Romans 3:21-26) and they work along with Satan to suppress God's grace. Sadly, they are unaware, as was the Pharisees in Jesus' day, that they are teaming up with Satan in suppressingGod's grace found clearly and abundantly in the Bible. That is why Jesus verbally and clearly told them, the Pharisees, that they were of their Father the devil.
Grace totally strips the religious of taking pride in their religious activities and morality. It leaves them having to depend upon Jesus and his finished work on the cross alone for justification. Grace brings the religious to the same place as the tax collectors, prostitutes, and thieves...to the foot of the cross in need of the blood of Christ alone for salvation. And no Pharisee would ever admit his sin is as severe as "those sinful people". Rather, the religious Pharisees, in Jesus' time and our time, would much rather glory and boast in their own religious works and morality as did the Pharisee in Luke 19 when going into the temple to pray as the sinful man stood outside the temple and asked God for mercy. Jesus said it was the sinful man who went home justified, not the religious Pharisee who thought he had justified himself in the eyes of God through his religious activity and morality.
Stories like this by Jesus angered the Pharisees. These stories still anger the modern day Pharisees. Yet, Jesus did not let the religious Pharisees stop him from sharing grace, and eventually by his grace tasted death for all (Hebrews 2:9). Through his resurrection and ascension, God sends his Spirit to live in us to give us the revelation of the spiritual truths of the cross, meaning internal revelation of all that God has freely given us in Jesus. 1 Corinthians 2 says that the man without the Spirit cannot accept the truths of the cross. So John, another reason the religious crowd cannot accept the finished work of Christ on the cross, even though it is abundant and clear in the Bible, is because possibly the Spirit of Christ does not indwell them, because if the Spirit of Christ did live in their hearts (Galatians 4:4-6), then according to the Bible, they would accept the finished work of Christ on the cross and respond joyfully to the teaching in God's word that we are no longer under law but under grace, which ushers us into a love relationship with God as our Father and totally transforms our lives.
Thanks for the question John! I hope this helps. Please check out any references I made to Scripture in answering your question. Please read the Scriptures in large context. My heart is always to direct people to Scripture. I have written a book on grace called "The Story of Grace". In this book I go deeply into God's word about the glorious truths of God's marvelous grace! You can go to Kindle for a copy. Have a great day John!