Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Understanding Grace: Does Radical Grace advocate sinful living?

18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

 Having been in a series on the amazing grace of God, I sensed it was best to also take some time to address some "hyper-grace" myths. We rejoice in the truth. Truth dispels myths. With that let's address one of the biggest myths about radical grace.

 "Hyper-Grace gives people a license to sin." "Hyper-Grace are soft on sin." "Hyper-Grace teaches that God is ok with sin now." "Hyper-Grace advocates sinful living, people who espouse grace have secret sinful lifestyles." These accusations have been hurled upon grace teachers and those who have received the message of radical grace. Are these accusations true? 

Is Grace a license to sin? Is Grace advocating sin?

 Some would argue that knowing how forgiven we are will open the door to a life of licentiousness. This premise would have a minute amount of truth if not for one important detail. We aren't just forever forgiven sinners. That is to say, we aren't those who have experienced the removal of the disease of sin but are still spiritually dead or separated. 

 If one were simply pardoned for their bad deeds but had no heart change, certainly one could desire to return to living as they once were. However, we who have received Jesus aren't merely forgiven, sinners. We are made entirely new in Him. His very life and nature and desires indwell us. We are completely hidden in Him. 

 Does grace, therefore, give a license to sin? Does grace then advocate sin? 
11 We have cause to celebrate because the grace of God has appeared, offering the gift of salvation to all people. 12 Grace arrives with its own instruction: run away from anything that leads us away from God; abandon the lusts and passions of this world; live life now in this age with awareness and self-control, doing the right thing and keeping yourselves holy.  Titus 2:11-12

 Grace teaches us to embrace Him and who we are in Him. Therefore, Radical Grace is not for living in sin. As Joseph Prince has said, If you want to live in adultery, this message isn't for you. Of course, grace is the way to freedom but it is not the message that will soothe your conscience while you pursue sinful habits.

 Is God pleased when we sin?

 Those who have a misconception of grace may think so. (These are they that have heard a message but not had an intimate encounter with the person of grace, Jesus. Jesus is grace!)Those who oppose Radical Grace accuse us of teaching this. (These are they who trust in good works and Law and not the Finished Work.)The Word of God provides some insight on this.
30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30 
Look at this passage in the original King James Version.
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30 KJV
 The Word is clear God is not pleased but grieved when we miss it. Now don't stop reading. I am not a bad news preacher. I preach the good news. Yes, it is true God is grieved when we miss it. But, it doesn't end there.
 Why is God grieved? He is grieved for several reasons. One is because we wound others by our poor choices. Another is we can sabotage areas of our lives, such as family and career and our good name. It also is a poor witness to others while living under the dominion of sin or destructive habits.
 The pain that something like infidelity brings, for example, is not worth the moments of pleasure. Defrauding an employer or others in order to gain something isn't worth the risks of possible termination of employment or legal consequences. These are severe reasons God is grieved but not the main reason.
 The biggest reason God is grieved though is because we are not identifying with who we actually are. This is why even when choices and lifestyles are mentioned we can still convey hope and the good news. Religion would have us concentrate on the actions of others. Law minded believers would demand we place harsh rules and restrictions on the Saints in order to ensure they remain pure and walk in honesty. This isn't the gospel or good news of grace.
 Radical Grace is the Good News. It is not sad or bad news. It is especially not "God is mad" news. In other words, God isn't holding your trespasses over you and reminding how wicked and sinful you are. Religious tradition creates an atmosphere of shame and condemnation. This arena causes men to sin "under the radar" if you will. 
 Read the New Covenant. Read Colossians 3, 1 Corinthians 6, Read Romans 6. Each time Paul was addressing wrong living or change, he never just said: "straighten up or you're out!" He didn't threaten their sonship in the family of God when people missed it. What did he do? He put into their remembrance who they already were in Christ. 
 This is the key to overcoming sin and temptation. When we remember we are the beloved children of God in whom He is well pleased and we are hidden in Him and made completely righteous in Him, nothing the World or the enemy offers will seem so enticing. God is always pleased with us. He isn't always pleased with our choices. But, we aren't the sum total of our actions or choices. We are who He says we are.
 One issue we see when we sin is the reaction so many of us have afterward. What do we do? We have this sense to run and hide. What do people endeavor to do when they are involved in porn or infidelity? They erase their browser history. They attempt to meet in discreet locations and lie to others to cover their tracks. They dread being found out. Why? They don't understand how loved they really are. 
18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 1 John 4:18
 Believers tend to run or shy away from the things of God when they miss it. The answer why is because they fear their sin will bring some punishment. What we must know is Jesus took our place. He took all the punishment sin brings. Sin's punishment is death. Jesus died for us. Therefore, there remains no more punishment for our sins. 
 This is good news. We don't have to fear punishment from Heaven when we miss it or blow it. I didn't say poor choices won't have corresponding consequences, but these aren't coming from God. 
 Jesus took the punishment for all sins. He took all the sins of mankind far away. The only thing standing between God and humanity is their acceptance or rejection of this free gift of grace. We abide in His perfect love for us and bear fruit as a result.
 Does Radical Grace then celebrate and endorse sin? Does Radical Grace teach God winks at sinful choices? Of course not! Radical Grace is the answer to and freedom from the dominion of sin. 

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