Living In Sin: An Accusation That Really Just Means, “I’m Better at Hiding My Sin Than You”

hiding

 

So I think we’ve all heard the term. It’s a label pretty closely resembling the Scarlet Letter. A sentence that gets passed upon unfortunate souls who we feel have strayed from the paths of righteousness: Living in Sin.

 

I don’t really know why more Christians are not concerned about this topic.  I mean, the claim has been that if you’re, living in sin and die that way, you’ll go to hell. Others aren’t willing to say you’ll go to hell, but they’re also not willing to say with any certainty that you won’t. Then you have some folks who will tell you that as a Christian, you can’t lose your salvation at all—-comforting, right?  I thought so too . . . Until I found out that there is a  fine print disclaimer on this one that basically says, “oh, by the way, if you sin too much, you probably never were saved to begin with . . .  So you’re going to hell anyway.”

However one wishes to pronounce, “tomato” or, “potato”, the train of thought here is:

“living in sin” = “soul in jeopardy”

So, I think it’s time we stopped giving this subject the, under the rug treatment, and got some real answers.

 

M.I.A.

 

The issue I ran into almost immediately when investigating this topic in the Bible is that some of the greatest dynasties we have erected—-doctrines that are fundamental to our Christianity, are largely Missing in Action:

For instance,

The Bible really doesn’t mention or refer to a, “Hierarchy of Sin”–where some are worse than others.

Nor is there a, “Sin-O-Meter” which measures whether or not the number of sins exceed the, “allowed daily amount” by grace.

There’s also that weird Variety thing that no one has ever spoken out loud but sounds something like, “A variety of sins here and there is fine. We all do it. But when one sin is committed in a higher frequency than all the other average sins, well then I’m afraid you’ve crossed over into, living in sin.”——- In other words, God wants diversity when it comes to your transgressions. But He frowns on a concentrated amount of any one of them.

So, apparently with this idea, you just need to make sure your vices are proportional to one another.

Then you have probably the most popular of these ideas; what I call the, “Heart Monitor.” This is where we convince ourselves that if we are sorry for our sin, or feel bad when we do it, that this is somehow different from a person who sins without feelings of remorse.

 

 

So Then —What’s The Bible Really Say?

 

 

All of these concepts are actually quite difficult to find and extract application from in the Scriptures. I mean, sure, they are kind of . . .  sort of———————– ish in there. But they are certainly not as clearly outlined as most of us have been led to believe. And they are not anywhere close to being a measurable criteria for us to live by.

No, instead, it would seem that upon searching God’s Word what we find more than anything else is simply that sin is sin—- Either you do it or you don’t.

Some may point to Scriptures that talk about, practicing sin  such as 1 John 3:9 as if this is the dividing line between believers and non believers. But then gloss over the other part of the same verse which says a born again person cannot sin—–period. Not just practice sin, but sin at all. Even if that part wasn’t in there (or you decided to avoid the versions that translate it that way), there’s another problem we run into with this. And that’s the fact that nearly every professing Christian on the planet says they sin multiple times each day. One minister I recently heard on the radio said we sin, “constantly.

Yet . . . We’re suppose to believe this does not constitute practicing sin?

 

 

 

 

. . . Anyone else beginning to feel like there’s a few loose floor boards, up in dis’ house?

 

 

Now, some will wonder if we all violate this passage that speaks about practicing sin, then what does it mean?  Why would God write such a thing to us? It’s not the subject, but God actually tells us why He said what He did—- Chapter 2 reads, “I write these things to you so that you won’t sin.”  He didn’t say, “I write these things to you so you will know whose most likely going to hell.

I talk about this passage and others like it in an FAQ I wrote on the subject of The Grace Message.

 

What’s it all About?

 

This being the case, where does the whole, living in sin, thing come from? As previously pointed out, the Hierarchy, Sin-O-Meter, Heart Monitor, and Variety doctrines are largely bunk.

 

 

My theory?

 

 

I’ve  noticed that as I progress in my Christian walk, I’ve gotten pretty good at hiding my sin——-Come on . . . You know what I mean. Us seasoned folk have learned to talk the talk and walk the walk— in front of the right people.  In other words, sin tends to go underground and undercover over the life span of the average believer. We get so good at playing the game that we can be overly critical, judgmental, lustful, hateful and selfish—— inwardly, without skipping a beat (or should I say a, “Hallelujah”?) outwardly. As we become experts in this field, it seems we also become more aware of those who aren’t. 1 Corinthians mentions folks who compare themselves with and among themselves.  So if you think about it, the only way the, “living in sin” thing really works is if we compare ourselves with another human being.  I mean, we’ve already admitted to sinning, “constantly” and on a daily basis, so we certainly can’t compare ourselves to Christ and come away feeling like we’re not living in sin, can we? At least not without a couple hundred theological jumping jacks.

But when comparing ourselves to one another, it inevitably creates a lesser-of-two-evils type scenario. Then those who sin different from us, and aren’t quite the pros at hiding it that we are, will stand out. And let’s face it, there is a part of us that enjoys pointing these folks out. Just like looking at someone who is fatter than you (yes, I’m going there) makes you rationalize how fat you are, so this makes you feel better about your sin.

. . . I know, I know— it can be pretty disturbing when unconscious thoughts are put into words.

 

I have a knack for it!

superman

 

But, in all seriousness, I have a feeling the Holy Ghost has been dealing with a lot of us about this. Maybe finally hearing it out loud will cause us to think twice before accusing others of what we ourselves are still guilty of on a, “daily” and, “constant” basis.

The Achilles’ Heel of the Grace Movement: Why Many Won’t Survive it

1

 

What has come to be known as the Grace Movement/Message holds a very special place in my heart. For years I felt like a lone voice heralding the life changing power of Grace, through faith, apart from works.

Long before most had ever heard of Andrew Wommack, Joseph Prince, and others, I was having Bible studies in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s teaching what I had found by myself with nothing but the Holy Ghost, and a Bible. As far as I knew I was the only one on the planet preaching this message.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of things I don’t know. There’s plenty that I have learned and continue to learn from other grace preachers. But I mention this so that folks understand that what I’m about to say does not come from a critic of this message. Nor does it come from a person who has just caught wind of the doctrine. On the contrary, I’ve been beating this drum longer than most.

 

A Disturbing Trend

 

Having said this, I’m beginning to see that as the Movement progresses, it is encountering what seems to be the inevitable fate of every sound doctrine—a mutation, or perversion of the authentic.  Many, with little knowledge of what God’s Word has to say on the subject, are jumping on board and attempting to teach it. But even more alarming than these folks who lack biblical knowledge is the fact that they don’t appear to even care that they lack it.  As a result, we are now seeing large amounts of, “grace” people who don’t want to talk about other important aspects of God’s Word. Sin, judgement, hell, wrath, and the devil have all but been completely removed from the vocabulary.

 

God is Not a Two Thousand Year Old Book

 

Upon inquiring about the seemingly lack of respect for the Bible, I have heard variations of the tired cliche’, “God is much bigger than a collection of two thousand year old manuscripts. My allegiance is to Jesus, not a book “

So, let’s explore this idea a bit . . .

There are some things that we, as Christians, have been practicing for so long that many don’t know why there was a necessity for them in the first place. So it’s pretty much inevitable that there’s going to come a point in time for people who were not around when the foundation was laid, to challenge these practices. Which is fine. I’m all for the challenge of long held traditions. And it sounds great to say, “Jesus is a real Person, not an old Book. If you want to know about Him, just ask Him.” Seriously, such a statement sounds revolutionary, right?  Man, lets get rid of the way these old farts in stuffy suits have been doing it for centuries and lets get back to Jesus!

So why is it so important for people who have Jesus living on the inside of them to follow the Bible?

Well, anyone who has even a basic understanding of the history of Christianity knows that almost the exact moment Jesus ascended to heaven, false doctrine began to infiltrate the Church. The Bible speaks about different gospels, and even a different jesus that slowly crept into the fellowship of believers and began leading people astray. When we look at the New Testament, we see nearly every book is jammed packed with warning after warning against false doctrine and exhortations to hold firmly to the original teachings of Jesus and His Apostles.

So you see, as nice and fluffy as it sounds to claim you don’t follow a book because all you need is Jesus, it really makes no sense. If first century Christians who personally knew the apostles needed their supervision and constant course correction, why would we think we don’t?

Well, we have the Holy Ghost and so He leads us into all truth.

All of the first century Christians had the Holy Ghost too. But even more than that, many of them received the Spirit directly through the laying on of the hands of the apostles, themselves. Are we supposed to believe that these Spirit-filled, tongue-talking, believers, who rubbed shoulders with Jesus and the apostles, somehow required more oversight than us?

 

. . . I mean——really?

 

“The Bible isn’t the Answer”

 

All of this usually segues into the objection: “Well, obviously following the Bible is not the answer. There are thousands of denominations and no one can agree on the right interpretation.

But we can all agree you don’t need to be circumcised to be saved, right?

We all agree you shouldn’t get drunk at communion, right?

We all agree you shouldn’t curse Jesus, right?

All of these things and many, many more, first century Christians were confused about.

See, it’s easy to point to the diversity in the Body of Christ now and say, “They’re all reading the same book but they can’t agree on anything” but you’re not comparing it to the time before the apostle’s doctrine was widespread.

Christians literally needed to be told that a person isn’t inspired by God if they say, “Jesus is accursed.”

They literally needed to be told not to get drunk at communion.

They literally needed to be told that a man having sex with his father’s wife is not something you should be proud of.

Think about it . . .

Spirit-filled Christians!

Tongue-talking Christians!

Direct disciples of Peter, Paul, James and John!

Yet they needed clarification on things that you and I wouldn’t think twice about today.

No, if you think the diversity is bad now, you have no idea what the Body of Christ would look like if we didn’t have the Bible. You think you do, but all the evidence points to absolute and total chaos.

 

Ol’ Faithful

 

Another unfortunate and bizarre element to this whole thing is the treatment these, “Grace Christians” show towards those who disagree with them. You’d think that for a people who promote grace there would be a lot of patience, understanding, and love toward those on the outside. But half the time they treat you like an enemy if you’re not willing to go along with everything they say. They’ll scorn, ridicule, and mock you. And rather than attempt to combat your ideas with reason and logic, they take the ol’ faithful route of  simply shunning you from their groups.

It’s a shame. What they heralded as a revolution is slowly turning into just another divisive group in the Body of Christ.

 

The Beginning of the End

 

So here is my prediction: There are many riding the bandwagon of this message that will be destroyed for a lack of knowledge. Because the Bible isn’t central to their understanding of the Gospel, they’ll leave themselves wide open for false and erroneous doctrines with no means of detection. There will be no way to prove or disprove what is being said in their fellowships. And the certainty of truth will slowly decay into New Age Thought, where anything goes, and every person simply does what is right in their own eyes.

Yet, in spite of all of this, the True Gospel of Grace must, and will continue to prevail and become more and more widespread as it leaps forward on the backs of men and women who know God’s Word.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Grace Message but Were Afraid to Ask

books11.jpg

 

 

Hey guys here’s an FAQ I wrote in response to the recent backlash over the whole, Grace Message . . .  Okay not quite an FAQ because Christians don’t really ask questions. We accuse and object . . . And maybe some occasional name calling . . . Uh, slander . . . gossip . . . backstabb—okay, you know what I mean.

So call it what you want. It’s kind of long and if you’re anything like me, you hate that sort of thing. Great thing about  FAQ’s is they allow you the freedom of skipping around  until you come across a question you’ve actually had. Feel free to ask more in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.

Question/Objection: “The Grace Message gives people a license to sin.”

ANSWER: Over a decade ago, some friends and I found this message in the New Testament on our own. But we didn’t call it the, “Grace Message” we called it, “The End of the Sin Problem” because of the absolute freedom from sin we experienced. We even wrote a book on the subject with that title.

This message sets people free from sin by unveiling what the strength of sin has always been—The Law (1Cor 15:56). Romans 7 is clear that the struggle with sin is energized by commandments (Rom 7:5, 7:8). Apart from the law, sin is dead (7:9). People have been trying to solve the sin issue by adding more commandments when the Bible says, “The law entered so that sin might abound (Rom 5:20)”! Trying to get someone to stop sinning by pushing more commandments is only adding fuel to the fire. APART from the law, sin is dead.

 

Question/Objection: “This is the, ‘Once Saved Always Saved” doctrine.”

ANSWER: No. This is simply stating that we are saved by faith (Eph 2:8). We stand by faith (Rom 11:20). And if we are to be saved, we must CONTINUE in the faith (Col 1:21-23). Not a combination of faith and our best efforts.

In other words, God doesn’t change the qualifications for salvation AFTER we are saved. He doesn’t say to the sinner, “you’re saved by faith apart from works” but then to the believer, “you‘re saved by faith plus works.”

 

Question/Objection: “God is just and He must judge sin.”

ANSWER: This is true. But the question is, who is judged for our sin? See, In Christ, God condemned sin in the flesh (Rom 8:3). The word, “condemned” in Greek means, “to judge guilty.” Christ took the judgment of sin so that now, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom 8:1).”

 

Question/Objection: “Without holiness no man will see the Lord (Heb 12:14).”

ANSWER: This is true. But how do you get holiness? By trying your best not to sin? No.

 

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become FOR us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, HOLINESS and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:30 NIV)

Christ became it FOR YOU. When something is done FOR YOU the result is, you don’t have to do it. It’s already been done!

 

Question/Objection: “Galatians 5:19-21 and 1Corinthians 6:9-10, saythat people who practice such sins will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

ANSWER: This is true. It just isn’t ALL THE TRUTH. The Bible has more to say about this subject.

Read the following passage closely . . .

“Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted

as a gift but as his due. And to the one who DOES NOT WORK but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is COUNTED as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God COUNTS righteousness APART FROM WORKS:

‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;

blessed is the man against whom the Lord WILL NOT COUNT his sin.”

(Romans 4:4-8 ESV)

 

See, your faith in Christ is counted as righteousness. The word, “righteousness” in Greek means, “Acting right or virtuous.” So you see, if righteousness is accredited to you, it’s AS IF YOU ACTED RIGHT. It has nothing to do with trying to abstain from sin. It’s counted to your charge APART FROM WORKS. Otherwise, if the Gift of Righteousness depended on whether you ACTED righteous, how would that be different from just ordinary righteousness?

So you see, the only way you could miss out on entering the Kingdom of God by sinning, was if those sins and actions were held to your charge. But as a believer, they’re not! You have righteousness accredited to you and IT’S APART FROM WORKS.

 

Question/Objection: “1John 1:9 says that every time we sin we need to confess it in order to be forgiven. So these Christians who don’t confess their sins are living in sin and have no forgiveness.”

ANSWER: This is an assumption. We’re assuming because it mentions doing it once that it should be done continually.

When we are born again we all fulfill this passage. We confess (or the Greek says, ‘acknowledge’) our sin and He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all (not just past and present but ALL) unrighteousness.

Then, after we place faith in Christ, we are counted righteous. And the benefits of righteousness that God imputes (and keep in mind this is APART from works) are as follows . . .

Sins are covered (past tense)

Iniquities are forgiven (present tense)

Sins shall not be imputed (future tense)

(Rom 4:6-8NKJV)

Knowing this, at what point could a believer in Christ be without forgiveness?

 

Question/Objection: “If God is no longer imputing sin to the Christian, why are there so many warnings against it in the New Testament?”

ANSWER: If you want to know why there are still warnings against sin in the New Testament, just read the New Testament. For instance, in Romans 6 why does Paul tell us not to sin?

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4 ESV)

Notice he did not say, “shall we sin that grace may abound? No. Because if we do we’ll all go to hell.”

No. Paul says “how can we if we are dead to sin?” Then goes onto say that if we shared in Christ’s death then we SHOULD walk in newness of life. So what is the reason? Because we died to sin, and were raised to new life.

Here is another passage that deals with this . . .book

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (1 Corinthians 6:12 NKJV)

If you think Grace teachers today are radical, you should talk to the apostle Paul! And he didn’t just say this once but twice (1Cor 10:23)! One translation says, “I can do whatever I want.”

But notice what else he said. “I will not be brought under the power of any.” See, for Paul it wasn’t a matter of being scared of losing his salvation. He said he was free to do whatever he wants (thus distancing himself from the strength of sin which comes from rules and commandments, 1Cor 15:56). Yet he made a decision that NOTHING would have power over him (something you can’t do while sin is still empowered by the law).

This sounds much like Romans 6 where he said “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that ones slaves whom you obey, (Rom 6:16).

See, it isn’t a matter of losing salvation, but of staying free from ANYTHING that might enslave us.

Here is one more passage on warnings against sin . . .

and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. (Ephesians 4:24, 25 NKJV)

Notice the, “therefore“. Paul tells believers they are to put on the new man who has true righteousness and holiness. “THEREFORE putting away lying . . .”

What is the reason he gives for putting away lying? Because of the New Man.

So again, the warnings are there for good reason. Because we are dead to sin. Freed from it. So now we should walk in newness of life.

And as I previously noted, this is not possible until we are out from under law

For sin shall not have dominion over you: BECAUSE you are not under law, but under grace.

(Rom 6:14)

 

Question/Objection: “If you tell people that they can’t lose their salvation by sinning, they will go out and live sinful lives.”

ANSWER: Let me just say that if the Gospel you preach doesn’t make people raise this objection, then it may not be the same one the apostles preached because this was a constant issue Paul addressed in the epistles as a result of his message.

That being said, it’s been 2000 years since Paul penned the book of Romans and the majority of the Body of Christ still does not understand one of the major components of his revelation: The power of sin is the law (1Cor 15:56).

The reason I say the majority of us don’t understand it is because we ask questions like this. We think that if you remove any obligation to conform to a set of rules, people will go out and sin like there’s no tomorrow.

It’s just the opposite. This message identifies where sin was getting it’s power from and frees the believer from the STRENGTH and DRAW of it.

 

Question/Objection: “Hebrews 10:26 says . . .

 

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.’

So if you continue to deliberately sin after you are saved, you will lose your salvation.”

ANSWER: This verse does not say, “if you sin willfully, after you are saved, you will lose your salvation.”

And you should be glad. Because if that were true, this would be the most horrifying passage in all the Bible. Every Christian has sinned deliberately at some point. So not only did you lose your salvation by sinning, but somehow you also made Jesus’ sacrifice go away. It no longer remains!

The problem here is we think that, “no longer a sacrifice for sins” equates to, “you’ve lost your salvation and you‘re going to hell.”

Rather than assume that is what is meant, let’s just read a few verses up and it will tell us . . .

Now where there is absolute remission (forgiveness and cancellation of the penalty) of these [sins and lawbreaking], THERE IS NO MORE OFFERING FOR SIN. (Hebrews 10:18 AMPa, KJVb)

So notice, the absence of a sacrifice does not indicate a loss of salvation, but a remission of sins!

Further confirmation of this can be found in verse 12 . . .

. . . [Christ], after He had offered a SINGLE sacrifice for our sins [that shall avail] FOR ALL TIME, sat down at the right hand of God, (Hebrews 10:12 AMP)

Jesus took care of sin once and for all. We don’t need any more sacrifices to look forward to. THERE ARE NO MORE SACRIFICES. His AVAILS for ALL time.

 

Question/Objection: “Romans 6:16, 1John 5:18, James 1:5 say that sin leads to death. So if you sin too much, then you will lose your salvation.”

ANSWER: Since the Love of God is located IN CHRIST JESUS, then we know that death cannot seperate us from Christ (Rom 8:38-39)

Question/Objection: “1John 3:6, 9 5:18 Says that those who are born of God won’t practice sin.”

ANSWER: It says more than that. He also tells the believer that he knows all things (2:20), receives whatever he asks for in prayer (5:15), overcomes the world (5:4), and even that he cannot sin AT ALL (1Jn 3:9b NKJV). God calls the believer many things in the New Testament. But they don’t happen automatically. Paul said it is our responsibility to, “walk worthy” of what we are called (Eph 4:1).

If we are going to measure our salvation based on how well we do that, then we are all in trouble.

 

Question/Objection: “It’s only when you sin over and over with no intention of repenting or being sorry that you are in danger of losing your salvation.”

ANSWER: This is what I call the, “Sin-O-Meter” theory. Which basically states that there is an undefined amount of sins God has set for you . Once you hit that amount (or, the sin-o-meter reads too high), you lose your salvation.

Not only is there no Scripture that says this, but if this were true, the next logical question to ask would be: How many sins is too many sins? At which point, this view requires even more added explanation.

I have a general rule of thumb when it comes to Bible interpretation that has served me well over the years: if it takes too long to explain, it’s probably made up.

 

Question/Objection: “It’s not about sinning too much. It’s a condition of the heart.”

confused

ANSWER: If it isn’t a matter of someone sinning too much, then it needs to be clarified what we are talking about. What is it we are we saying makes someone lose their salvation? This is one issue we run into with this type of reasoning. It becomes hard to nail down exactly what the qualifications are. So in an attempt to answer questions like these, instead of going to the Scriptures, we have to go through agonizing hypotheticals that make you want to fall on a knife.

Question/Objection: “Why are you trying so hard to excuse people’s sin?”

ANSWER: Because this is the very essence of the Gospel. We are justified before God by faith APART FROM WORKS (Rom 4:5-6).

Notice what this passage says . . .

One man (Adam) disobeyed God, and many became sinners. IN THE SAME WAY, one man (Christ) obeyed God, and many will be made right. (Romans 5:19 NCV)

What have we been preaching to the unsaved man who thinks he will make it to heaven because he is a, “good” person? We tell him no amount of good deeds can change the fact that he is a sinner because of what Adam did. He can’t somehow escape his sinfulness by trying to be good, can he?

Well what does that verse say? IN THE SAME WAY Adam made us sinners, so by what Christ did we are made righteous. So how can we tell the sinner he CAN’T escape his sin by trying to abstain from it, yet tell the believer he CAN escape his righteousness by sinning too much? We are inferring that the work of Adam has more, “staying power” than the work of Christ.

No. We were made righteous THE SAME WAY we were made sinners. Neither had anything to do with our performance.