Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Is Grace Simply a License to Sin?

"Is Grace Simply a License to Sin?
This topic has presented itself in the form of numerous questions and statements in the past, such as the following:

• Does preaching Grace lead to a careless lifestyle?
• Won’t people run out and sin recklessly if they get too “deep” into the Grace message?
• We can not preach Grace to a new believer because they are not mature enough to be trusted with such freedom yet.
• Taking the Law off believers gives them a license to sin.

All these statements fly straight in the face of what the Bible teaches about Grace:

[Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age].

Firstly let us consider how Grace influences a person’s thinking. When we comprehend what the message of Grace is all about (how God pardoned the sins of the whole world (Heb 10:17), abolished the written code of the Law (Col 2:14), set people at liberty to live free from the fear of judgment and punishment (1 John 4:18), how believers are encouraged to have boldness when approaching God (Heb 10:19-21), that we can be confident that God will never be angry with us ever again (Isa 54:9-10) and many other truths like these), it is clear that a proper understanding of these matters will in fact NOT encourage a person to want to sin, but rather inspire such a person to be more thankful towards God for all He has done, to live a life worthy of the sacrifice made by Jesus and to deny ungodly conduct as stated in Tit 2:11-12 (above).

Mostly the arguments and questions against the Grace message, such as the ones we mentioned above, come from people who are not necessarily afraid that they themselves will be deceived into wanting to commit more sins, but their arguments are for other “weaker” Christians who in their opinion do not yet have the “maturity” to handle the responsibility that comes with such freedom. Therefore they encourage that the truth of the Grace message be taught with a healthy dose of Law mixed in to warn these “weak” Christians against the perils of sinning. How ironic isn’t it then that the Bible teaches us that sin doesn’t increase through Grace, but rather through the Law: [Rom 5:20 God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant] (NLT). Grace actually came in and removed the sins that were made more abundant through the Law!

So for someone to say that Grace is a license to sin, it simply serves to expose such a person’s ignorance to what Grace actually means and stands for. It reveals that they don’t understand that the power of the Holy Spirit inside a believer (reminding them of their complete 100% righteous standing before God) is an infinitely stronger empowerment for “good behaviour” than threatening someone with the Law. As a result the legalists can all relax and come to terms with the fact that the Holy Spirit can be trusted with the transforming work in the life of a believer: [Phil 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ]. Nobody appointed us as each other’s moral policemen, so how can we ever try to assume that function?

The truth is that Grace can never be reduced to an “acceptable” level to compensate for the insecurities of legalists. Due to the extreme nature of the Law, Grace needs to be preached in its purest form as well in order to free people from the poison of “works based” mindsets"

By Andre van der Merwe


  1. I like!

    Many people forget or mis-interperate God's grace.
    They have reached the point of realising that grace is God's unconditional and abundant goodness and favour towards us, regardless of our behaviour. But grace is not magic - it doesn't nullify free-will - we still need to consciously allow God's grace to impact, empower and improve us into ever increasing glory.

    There is an "effort" on our part in order for us to actually encounter and taste ABUNDANT goodness, and the "effort" is this:
    To personally KEEP KNOWING (on a daily basis) - To constantly soak and saturate our thinking/minds with God's grace (i.e His desire and plan to bless, prosper, heal restore and increase us from glory to glory.

    I think (in some places that is) that many have sunk into a deceptive comfort zone regarding the message of God's grace - they (including myself at times) think that just because they are exposed to a grace message or go to a "grace-embracing" church, that God's grace will automatically manifest (it actually does in many ways to be honest - God is good to us constantly without us even realising it...but there is MORE to receive!)

    People become bored and frustrated with the grace message when they are only hearing it preached at/to them - The power and restorative effect of God's grace becomes such an exciting and life-changing revelation when we actually press into it and grab ahold of it, with the knowledge that indeed it is the missing link to an inexplicably abundant life!

  2. Hey Andy

    I agree with u fully bro- but here's a practical question:

    how would you counsel someone who has lived 'under the law' and sinned a fair amount 'in secret'- then they hear the gospel of grace and freedom comes and suddenly they start going back to their old ways and start sinning more.

    So i know that u wouldn't pull the whole condemnation card, but how would you help them break free from the sin?

    shot dude

  3. Hi Anon. This is a good question.

    It is a Biblical Fact that a revelation of God's Grace (Undeserved favor) towards a person will set them free from the control of sin over them. For example:
    Tit 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,
    Tit 2:12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

    We see here that its God's Grace that teaches/trains us to live free sins dominion. (not behavioral modification based preaching)

    Rom 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
    Here Paul says that when you are walking under Grace, you wont be caught under sins control. In fact, he says that if you are under sins control its because you are still under the Law. Can you see that?

    When people live in a lifestyle sin and say "its fine cause I'm under grace", they are actually wrong.... they are clearly still under Law. They need a revelation of grace.

    The same, in your example of the person who "hears the Gospel of grace and freedom comes", if they go back to the way they lived under the law, then, very clearly, they have not really understood Grace and are still under the Law because scripture says that "THE LAW stirs up sin" - NOT GRACE.

    The solution for the brother caught in sin is that "you who are spiritual (have a clear under understanding of Gods grace (the Gospel) should gently restore him." - Gal 6:1 (Not harshly and with threats)

    Keep showing that person Gods grace towards them and they will sooner or later get revelation of Gods Goodness that will lead him to repentance (Change his mind to something better) -Rom 2:4

    The truth is that even while they still do not fully understand grace and has been deceived into thinking that Grace is "a licence" to sin, God is still not counting it against him because Jesus died and already paid the price for the sin of the WHOLE WORLD - (1 John 2:2)
    As a believer, his lifestyle shows is that he is still immature in his knowledge of grace and needs to grow-up into grace.

    Grace and Peace will be multiplied to them the more they understands the Gospel - (that is, the full implication of Jesus Christ and Him Crucified)-(2 Peter 1:2)

    Some will insist that he may not even be saved!! (I personally wouldn't even go down that road, especially if the person says they are saved and believe what Jesus did for them on the cross), but saved or not, the solution is exactly the same - share the "Gospel of Gods Grace" (Acts 20:24)Paul shared the same message with the lost and the saved!

    Because if he is saved, the truth (knowledge of it) will set him free from sin cycles, and if he is not saved, the gospel will lead him to salvation.
    Its a win-win situation!!

    Hope this helps