I teach Grace. Yes, I teach Grace.
I do not teach hyper-grace, although I sometimes get accused of doing so because I also teach the concept of once saved always saved. This leads to two types of questions:
- Can someone sin so much, so badly that they lose their salvation?
- I’ve known Christians who are now atheists!!
Answer to #1 is “no.” Answer to #2 is “no you don’t; they were never saved.” To which, for this second answer, I get accused of a cop-out — oh that’s just a convenient way to look at it.
Look, if you want to view #2 as someone who has lost their salvation then go right ahead. Either way we both agree that this person is lost. In saying this I’m assuming that he has truly lost his desire for God as opposed to someone who is just “hiding” from God. But actually, he was never saved to begin with and was just “intellectually” examining the God-question.
For the view on sin and salvation, pertaining to Grace, read my post What does it mean to be ‘saved’?. It talks about how God brought salvation to you and you did not do anything to earn it. Even after Jesus died on the cross and made an offer to you of salvation, you didn’t have to do anything except to accept the offer.
17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come! 18 And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation.
2 Cor 5:17-19 (NET)
God reconciled us to Himself. You didn’t do the reconciliation (your job now — your ministry — is to pass this message of reconciliation on to others). You didn’t earn salvation. You simply accepted it. And if you didn’t do anything to GET your salvation, you certainly can’t do anything to LOSE salvation.
But all that is not what I want to talk about here. Go read the article through the link to see the details of that discussion.
We will interweave with that article though, so let’s get started. Why can’t I lose my salvation? Well, because when there is a true conversion, when you are Justified, a change takes place. Justification is a big ten-cent word that means that you are “Just-as-if-I’d” never sinned. God wiped the slate clean. No, God actually threw the slate away. He won’t be writing any more sin-action against you. The writ of sin was nailed to the cross and Jesus’ blood paid the price for ALL of your sins.
13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Col 2:13-14 (KJV)
And this brings in another ten-cent word: Sanctification. When you accepted (remember, you didn’t earn it) the salvation offered, God regenerated you: He changed you. Paul spoke in the book of Romans about your old man and your new man. The change brought to you is that you now have a new man. Sanctification is the process of change that has begun in you. It is the cleaning out of the old and the replacing it with the new. It is the learning process that you go through to become whole.
Look at it this way: when you got saved did you really feel that something changed. What I mean by that can be made into an example. Let’s suppose that you had a sin in your daily actions prior to salvation; did you suddenly not want to do that sin? Some actually do have such transformation, but most don’t. Or suppose that you were engaged in any other sin, such as sexual attractions. Did such attractions stop the day you were saved? Or did you perhaps have the ability to practice self-control just a little better than you did prior.
A change began — Sanctification — that will teach you how to do better, how to live more Christ-like. This change is God-driven not man-driven. What this means is that it simply cannot fail. God came to this earth in the form of a man, the man Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect life, sinless, and He went to the cross — the altar — and He was sacrificed, blood was shed, and He died for you. YOU had nothing to do to secure this act of salvation. Jesus offered to you that His blood would wash away your sins if you simply accept Him as your Lord and Savior. YOU accepted if you are a Christian today. That acceptance had to be genuine (and we’ll talk more about this later). And then Sanctification began, and YOU had nothing to do to effect this.
Don’t get me wrong, you have a great part to play in the process of Sanctification: you have to learn and apply the lessons. But the act of sanctification is all on God. The effect of your change is all on God. Here’s another way to look at it: without God you can’t change in the direction of perfection. You would fall if left to your own. In fact a world of men did indeed fall when left to their own actions.
So let’s take a closer look at this thing called Grace and talk about what it is and what it is not. To do this, I have to quote a long part of what Paul wrote to the Romans:
1 What shall we say then? Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection. 6 We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 (For someone who has died has been freed from sin.) 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, he is never going to die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, 13 and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace.
Rom 6:1-14 (NET)
At the end of chapter 5 Paul spoke of how through Adam sin entered the world, and that because of the law transgression increased; but as sin increased Grace increased even more. In other words, God remained in control.
Well here in chapter 6 Paul asks: “should we just go ahead and keep sinning so that Grace will grow that much more?”. And his answer is a big resounding “NO!”. You were not built to sin; you were not saved to sin; you are not being sanctified so that you can sin. No, we are to become Christ-like. We are to emulate Christ. We are to put down our sinful self so that we can chase after His perfection. What this chapter is saying is that even though we have been given a new man, we still have the old man around and we have sin in our mortal body — but it is under our control as to whether we allow that sin to rule us or not. We do not have to let sin reign. We do not have to obey its desires.
I could go into a whole discussion on law vs. Grace. We are not under law any longer (Gal 5:18). Law was our tutor and we do not need a tutor any longer (Gal 3:24). I could go deep into this, but perhaps at another time.
Look at verses 11-13 again. You are to consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God. This means you are avoid sin. It is your domain to embrace or avoid sin. What are you going to do? Look at the reverse of this concept: if you embrace sin you then consider yourself dead to God. In other words, if you’d prefer to enjoy your sin then you really don’t care about what God did in wiping those sins away. God tried to wash them away and you said, “wait, I’m not done with that stuff; I’m still having my fun.”. The trouble is, this is not the actions of someone who is being Sanctified.
If you are being Sanctified then your desire for sin should be waning. It won’t be gone, for that is your choice to what degree you will take up this task. You must persevere to the end and win the battle against sin. But when you embrace your salvation then your Sanctification makes it easier for you to choose correctly. You will actually want to do righteous things over the sinful things.
Hyper-Grace thought leads people to think, “well, God saved me and I’ll always be saved so I can do whatever sinful things I want — after all Jesus ALREADY washed those sins clean.”. But that is not how a person who is going through Sanctification thinks. So I’d have to question whether you have been saved in the first place. Understand that we are not in a position to pass judgment on whether or not someone is saved — that belongs to God alone. But we are to help others to avoid sin when we see them engaged in it. We are to help convict them into avoiding sin and embracing Grace.
You say: “well, I knew someone who really meant it when they got saved and fell away into a sinful mess.”. Do you know what? God knew this person at his later sinful mess when he was “accepting” salvation. God knew where he would go with this. And God knew that he didn’t mean it — truly mean it, lasting and persevering type of mean it — when he “got saved.” This person was not truly saved.
So what is our desire for sin? Is it pervasive? Is it something that we simply cannot overcome? Or is it our own choice that we want to continue in our sin and have our fun. Then run off to church on Sunday and act like we are all holy. We follow that up with a nasty Sunday night, perhaps drinking, perhaps carousing and cavorting; then a week of cussing and lusting and sexually immoral activity? Is this salvation? Is this Sanctification? Has someone who revels in this activity really and truly been saved in the first place?
Gandhi is reputed to have once said: “Oh, I don’t reject Christ. I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.”
Would that fit you? Me? If someone looked at us would they see Christ? I know there are times I react in anger or stress too quickly at the littlest things. Jesus would have shown patience. What things do you do throughout the week that you could identify that Jesus simply would not have done? Do you get drunk on the weekends? Do you have sex outside of marriage? Do you use unsavory language? Do you say that you are a Christian and then act so very un-Christ-like?
22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Matthew 7:22-23 (NIV)
That is a very sobering verse. Would you be able to stand in God’s presence and say to Jesus: “Lord, Lord…” And what would He say in return to you? Well done my good and faithful servant? Perhaps, well done my drunken friend? No, this last doesn’t seem right. No to the drunkard, the sexually immoral, the thief, the murderer, the adulterer and the idol worshipper He will say “depart from Me.”
Are you trying to be Christ-like? Are you reaching toward perfection while you are being Sanctified? Or are you simply having your fun and hoping that God, in His Grace, will simply forgive you one more time after one more time? Are you spending your nights in sin and then your mornings posting a verse to a chorus of “likes” on Facebook and expecting God to say, “Wow! Now THAT made up for it!”
When you accepted salvation you were changed. You are now being Sanctified. You are to walk in that Sanctification which changes you and helps you to walk as Christ walked. You are to strive for the perfection that you are destined for. You are to put down the sin that would control your life and you are to lift up Christ so that His Grace covers you. You are to avoid sin and transgression. You are to live holy.
What is your desire?