Grace is not to be thought of as in any sense dependant upon the merit or demerit of its objects. This may be expressed in two ways. In the first place, grace ceases to be grace if God is compelled to bestow it in the presence of human merit. According to Lewis Chafer:
If God should discover the least degree of merit in the sinner, this, in strict
righteousness, He must recognize and duly acknowledge. By such a recognition of
human merit, He would be discharging an obligation toward the sinner and the
discharge of that obligation toward the sinner would be the payment, or
recognition, of a debt.
Furthermore, grace ceases to be grace if God is compelled to withdraw it in the presence of human demerit. Indeed, grace is seen to be infinitely glorious only when it operates, as Packer says, "in defiance of" human demerit. Therefore, grace is not treating a person less than, as, or greater than he deserves. It is treating a person without the slightest reference to desert whatsoever, but solely according to the infinite goodness and sovereign purpose of God.