by Bill Muehlenberg
Here is a biblical truth you can bank on: any gospel which makes it easier for you to sin, and to feel OK about sinning, is not a gospel of Jesus Christ, but comes straight out of the pits of hell. Any message proclaimed from the pulpit, printed in books, or heard in conferences, which gives the believer the idea that sin is no big deal and that we can just relax about it all is a gospel of demons.
The really amazing thing about this is we have been there and done that. This is already 2000 years old for heaven’s sake! Paul dealt with the error of cheap grace, or false grace, or hyper grace, some two millennia ago – so why are we still having this discussion?
He too had to deal with false teachers who peddled a false gospel of cheap grace. His words are so perfectly clear on this that it staggers me that we are still repeating these same diabolical errors in the church today. In the book of Romans – Paul’s great treatise on justification by grace through faith – he deals directly with this pernicious error. As he says in Rom. 6:1-2, 15-16:
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? … What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
We cannot save ourselves – that is why it is all of grace. But we also called to work out our salvation. We have a role to play. We must obey, resist sin, appropriate what Christ offers us, and so on. Spirituality is not automatic. We have much to do to see sanctification progressively worked out in our lives.
Yes, in Christ we are complete and perfect – all due to his grace – but we must work out what we already are in Him by our daily choices. We must resist and fight sin, and we must desire and pursue holiness. Obedience is a crucial part of the Christian walk, and we dare not allow a doctrine of cheap grace to trap us in sin.
Several recent articles deal with this in more detail, and are well worth citing here.