There's a scene in the movie Bonnie and Clyde where the couple is holed up somewhere in a hideout, unable to leave because the cops are on their trail. It has become obvious to them that this life of crime isn't as glamorous as they had once imagined.
Bonnie Parker is dreaming of a new life somewhere, a clean life, where they could start over and live as other people do. She asks Clyde, "What would you do if some miracle occurred and we were able to walk out of here clean, with no record, and nobody after us? What would you do?"
Clyde Barrow thinks for a moment and says something along the lines of, "I guess I'd do things differently. First, I wouldn't live in the same state where I pulled my bank jobs, and when I wanted to rob a bank, I'd go to another state. ..."
Bonnie turns away in disappointment. This isn't at all what she had in mind, but that's Clyde Barrow for you.
This is where some get confused about grace.
Paul said, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).
The slate is clean and we're free to walk out the door and live a brand new life. But something about the old nature prefers life on the run, and we sometimes find ourselves going back to that dreadful, painfully unglamorous existence.
We were saved from the muck and the mire, and yet, sometimes we can't wait to get back in it. This is the Clyde Barrow in each of us, that sinful creature who is always longing to return to the old way of life.
God sets you free. He wipes clean the slate. He gives you a fresh start. He does this so that you will never have to go back to a life on the lam. He pours out his grace, not so we can be a better Clyde Barrow but so that we can experience the dreams of a Bonnie Parker.
These are the dreams of a new life -- free from the chains of the past, free from the guilt of our sins, free to start again.
God says he will accept and acquit us -- declare us not guilty -- if we trust Jesus to take away our sins (Romans 3:22 The Living Bible).
Bonnie and Clyde were both criminals, both sinners, both condemned. But this (probably fictional) vignette from their lives gives us an insight into ourselves.
Your inner "Clyde Barrow" might want to use this freedom as an excuse to sin more, but God has given you His grace so that your new nature -- with those "Bonnie Parker" dreams -- can experience the full freedom of life in Christ.
It's a question of whose dreams you will choose to follow today.
You've been set free, pardoned and released. You can walk out the door. How will you live out your freedom?
Pastor James "Skip" French is the pastor of Highland Christian Church, 1500 Forest Hills Blvd., Bella Vista. Opinions expressed are those of the author.