Photo courtesy of Ian Espinosa
False Grace – Errors in the Current Message of Grace, Part 1
By Thomas Taylor
I love the Bible message on grace. We could not be saved without it for we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Grace is God’s free gift to us; it is never based on our performance but wholly on God’s goodness. Christians are usually strong in understanding that salvation is not based on our works. However, some modern day teachers on grace take grace and twist it into something that is false. What is worse is that most Christians swallow it all hook, line, and sinker because it sounds good. Have you been duped into believing something false concerning the message of grace?
There seems to be very little discernment in the Church these days. Most Christians today hunger for a preacher that preaches something positive and that’s about all they can handle. Anything other than that, like mentioning repentance or addressing bad behavior, and it is time to find another church. It seems we find ourselves in the middle of the times prophesied in 2 Timothy 4:3:
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
In this article I do not want to define grace and talk about its application. There is much material out there available already on the subject of grace. What I want to talk about is not the meat but the poison that has been added to the meat. If someone offered you a big juicy steak and said, “And I’ve only added just one little drop of poison to it,” would you eat it? No, of course not. Nor should you swallow and follow all “grace” teaching. The consequences of some of these poisonous grace teachings are truly deadly.
Jude warns us of those who teach poison:
Jud 1:4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
I do not believe that all those that teach a strong grace message are bad. In fact, some of them a very notable Christians, full of the Spirit and love. Many are teaching the message of grace in proper balance. However, some have at some point believed lies that are clearly countered by scriptures. Unfortunately, they would rather embrace the false rather than the truth. They also lead many astray in their doctrinal error. The following are some of the worst of the false grace doctrines. These are not all the bad ones but the ones I feel do the most damage to the Body of Christ.
Error #1 – You Cannot Sin
1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin…
Based on this verse, the false grace doctrine says the Christian’s spirit is so perfect and righteous that he cannot even sin. He is like Jesus in his spirit. Well, yes and no – we are like Jesus in that we are declared righteous forever and we are perfected, but the potential to commit sin still exists. Also, all Christians have sinned since they became Christians. All sin is spiritual in that the Christian’s spirit and soul are the parts of him that act when he sins; the Christian sins spiritually and with his mind.
1 John 3:8 does not teach the Christian cannot sin. The Greek of this verse shows that the person who is a Christian will not remain in the habit of sin as a lifestyle. In other words, it could be translated, “Whoever is born of God doth not commit sin continually as a lifestyle.” It absolutely has no reference at all to the Christian not being able to sin.
Adam was born directly of God yet he sinned spiritually. So this cannot mean that someone born of God cannot commit a sin. It means no one born of God practices sin (as a lifestyle on purpose). It is evident Christians can sin for John wrote 1 John 2:1, “if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (see also 1 John 5:17).
This error being taught is a form of Gnosticism – a horrendous heresy that the Church has been fighting since the days of Paul. It teaches that the body is evil and the spirit (of man) is good. So you can do anything in the body and it doesn’t matter because you’re right with God in your spirit. This is devilish doctrine. The Christian’s sins do have consequence! And if the Christian doesn’t repent (which is a subject you NEVER hear false grace teachers mention: repentance), the Christian could be lost. Paul writes fighting this deadly doctrine: Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? (2) May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
Jesus teaches us that sins are not external to us but they come from within us:
Mark 7:15 there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.
All sin starts from within the man. The man may be tempted by external forces like demons or lusts of the flesh/body but man chooses from within to act on it. Therefore, sins are of man’s spirit and soul. Jesus continues:
Mark 7:20-23 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. (21) For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, (22) Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: (23) All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
From where do the “evil thoughts” come from? They come from man’s mind. But when acted upon, they are spiritual sins. They are just like Adam’s sin that killed him spiritually that day in the Garden.
So are we lost the moment we sin? No, the blood of Jesus covers our sins that are not intentional. But if we sin intentionally, in purposeful rebellion toward God, then the sins are NOT covered. But as long as we remain in this body, we can even repent of those sins and be back in full fellowship with the Father. We would not be lost, for grace does give us some room to move away from God for a time. But it never allows unrepentant sin.
Another version of this false doctrine is sometimes described as the Christian being “sealed” from sin. The thought goes something like this: you are born-again so sins you commit cannot penetrate your spirit which is perfected. Then the verses on being sealed by the Holy Spirit are used to give the idea that we have been vacuum-packed by the Holy Spirit to prevent sin from entering our spiritual man. For example:
2 Corinthians 1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise
Our spirits are not “sealed from [being able to] sin.” The seals in the Bible are something like a wax seal used to close a letter, often with the imprinted mark of the one who sealed it pressed in while the wax was hot. It is a mark of authority. So the seal is something by authority which closes the contents. But is it closed from sin? No, the seal is a mark of authority from the Sealer, the Holy Spirit, who closed the door to the devil so that he no longer has access to your spirit forever. There is a world of difference between being sealed from the ability to sin, which is completely false, and being sealed so that the devil no longer has access your spirit because he was defeated at the cross, which is the truth. Sin is a choice the Christian can make; it comes from within. It is not an outside force trying to penetrate his spirit as this false doctrine teaches.
This false doctrine hinges on the idea that all the sin someone does is done by the body but never the spirit. But sin is an act, according to the dictionary. Therefore sin is an act of the will that is committed by the soul and spirit, and sometimes the body. The soul and spirit of man are inseparable; the only thing that can even discern the difference between the two is God and His Word (Heb. 4:12). Paul writing to Christians teaches us this:
1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
Paul teaches in this passage that sleeping with a prostitute is a sin with the body. But notice “every sin that a man doeth is without the body.” Without here means not using or not with the body. If every sin, beside the sexual sins of fornication, are not with the body, then what are they with? They are done with man’s spirit and soul. All sin is spiritual in that man’s spirit participates. All sin is soulical in that man chooses to do it with his own volition.
The deadly consequence of this poisonous error is that it teaches, no matter what sins you commit or how often, it is okay because your spirit cannot sin. In other words, it teaches sins don’t matter for the Christian! Grace then becomes a license to sin.
False grace teaches that man’s spirit cannot commit a sin. That is error. Whenever we sin, according to 1 Corinthians 6:18 it is spiritual – with our spirits. It has spiritual consequences, destroying our fellowship with God because we walked away from Him; He did not walk away from us. It certainly is true that we do not lose our salvation when we sin. The only time that we would lose our salvation when we sin would be when we enter into a lifestyle of unrepentant sin; if we do not stop before we die, then we would be lost forever.
So the idea that false grace teaches is that our spirits are so good that it doesn’t matter what we do with our bodies – it never contaminates our spirits; that’s why we remain saved even after we sin. Though it is true we can sin and stay saved, this whole concept of being “sealed” from sin is NOT what the Bible teaches.