That Time Grace Gave Me A License to Sin
It’s been almost 7 years since I first heard the message of grace (or “hyper grace” as some call it) and discovered that I’m not a sinner with a sin nature. It wasn’t long after I learned about “hyper grace” that I realized what a treat I was in for with my Christian peers!
My best friend in the church I was attending confronted me. “Brother, you shouldn’t tell people they aren’t sinners or that they can live sin free, because a new believer might misunderstand you and think you’re saying it’s okay for them to sin!”
I couldn’t help but laugh. I wasn’t trying to offend him or hurt his feelings, but I just couldn’t make sense of that kind of response. How does me telling you it’s not your nature to sin make you immediately think about sinning?
A License to Sin and Be a Slave!
What if they replied, “Are you saying that we should continue living in these chains and serve this cruel man forever?”
You’d think they were crazy, right? “What are you talking about? I just said you’re free from that life! How do you take that to mean I’m saying you should continue being slaves?”
If you come to that conclusion, it’s not an indication that there’s an issue with the message; it’s a sign that there’s an issue in your heart. I don’t say that to condemn anyone, it’s just what’s happening.
Here’s another scenario: When it comes to giving, Christians always warn “Don’t give to homeless people because they might go buy drugs and alcohol!”
Now if a homeless man buys drugs with the money I give him, does it prove that there’s a problem with my money and my desire to give? Or is it a problem with the man’s heart and the way he thinks?
If I give a homeless man a tool meant to nourish his body and sustain his life, and his immediate response is to use that tool to destroy his body, it’s in issue with his heart. His response shows he thinks more highly of drugs and alcohol than he does of food.
Likewise, when a Christian’s immediate response to grace is “You’re saying we have a license to sin!” it’s an issue with the heart–they think more highly of sin than they do of grace.
That might offend some people, but “wisdom is proved right by her actions.” If you act like sin is more powerful than the ability of grace to free someone from sin, it’s clear what you really believe.
As far as lip-service goes? Obviously that’s not true! Christians quote all the scriptures and sing all the songs about how Jesus has set them free from sin. But dare to imply that you can be free in your experience in this lifetime, and you’re accused of lying and blasphemy and some ancient heresy.
Critics of Grace, Defenders of Sin
It’s not a coincidence that it’s often the same ones who get offended at grace and accuse us of giving people a license to sin, who are often the ones to tell others that they’ll never truly have victory over sin (but they should keep trying anyway!).
Read even a little bit of those two articles above and you’ll see that Christians are more attached to their sin than they are to Jesus. They’re aren’t attached to sin in spirit because Jesus has forever “taken away the sins of the world” (John 1:29), but they are attached to sin in their minds.
Their license to sin isn’t our message, it’s their own beliefs about what Jesus really did. They think Jesus came to help us try harder not to sin, instead of destroying sin and taking away the source of the problem.
The hyper grace message is a scapegoat used so they don’t have to confront their own twisted ideas of grace. Again, I’m not trying to condemn anyone, I’m just telling you how this whole thing works!
If you think you’re a sinner, you’re going to feel subconsciously obligated to defend sin whenever someone tries to take away your reason for doing it (which the so-called “hyper-grace” message does). You will feel like they are attacking a part of yourself and you will react to them accordingly. It’s the same way they reacted to Jesus when He defied their precious traditions and healed on the Sabbath. Pretty soon you’re rallying all your buddies to create religious propaganda and finding people to bear false witness against the gospel.
You think my message of grace is what gives license to sin? What about your own refusal to let go of a dead sin nature (Gal. 5:24, Col. 2:10)? If you think my message that says your sin nature has been destroyed gives you a license to sin, what does your message that says you’re an unworthy sinner with a sin nature do?
A License to Sin, Do Drugs, and Pick Up Prostitutes!
About a year after I got a hold of the grace message, my dad and I were talking about grace. I was telling him how we’re already forgiven, and that God doesn’t hold any of our sin against us, whether past, present or future.
What do you think his first question was? “Does that mean we can do whatever we want?” (i.e. “are you giving me a license to sin?”)
Paul talks about something similar in Romans. Immediately after telling his audience “where sin abounds, grace hyper abounds,” he realizes what they’re response might be.
“Wait a minute. Some of them might think I’m saying they should run around and sin a whole bunch so they can get more grace!” So he answers the question he knows some of them will be asking.
“Should we go on sinning to get more grace? Obviously not! Now that we have died to sin, how can we continue sinning?” – Romans 6:1-2
John makes the same statement in one of his letters.
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. – 1 John 3:9
The Truth About You
Now listen. I could potentially do anything I want and God won’t hold it against me (1 Cor. 6:12). That scares a lot of people, but that kind of freedom is only scary when I view myself as an out-of-control sinner who is inevitably going to mess everything up and get into trouble.
My parents never forbid me to drink and smoke because they weren’t expecting me to get into that stuff. At the very least they knew I might get curious at some point and try it out, but they didn’t talk to me with a strict and intimidating tone like I was a terrible kid who would inevitably fall into drug addiction.
On the contrary they constantly reinforced the idea that they envied my ability to think on my own and not follow the crowd. “I wish I was as strong as you are when I was your age! I got mixed up with a lot of the wrong people!”
As a result of how they viewed me, I never viewed myself as a potential alcoholic or drug addict, so it was easy for me to say “no.” I never felt like the substance or the peer pressure was in more powerful than my ability to say “no,” because they taught me that I have the ability to say “no!”
When I look at even just a little bit of what scripture says about me and who lives in me, I feel safe with the kind of freedom God has entrusted to me. It’s not a burden where I constantly anticipate failure and disappointing God, it’s an adventure where I constantly anticipate and hope for change and growth, in this life!
Just as my parents didn’t talk to me like a potential addict, God doesn’t talk to you like a potential sinner.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Eph 2:10
God created me in Christ to do good works, even preparing that good in advance. Would he prepare good works for people who are destined to do bad works? Would you hire an internet blogger to build you a house? Or do you hire the person who has been prepared for building houses?
You’ve been hired by God to do good works because He trusts the ability you have in Him to do those good works!
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. – Romans 8:29
How many people did God know about in advance? Everyone! And so everyone has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus. It shouldn’t be too shocking. Humanity has already been created in His image, now we’re just learning to act like it (that’s what conform means)!
… Christ in you, the hope of glory. – Col. 1:27
I’m not hoping for Jesus to come down from heaven to save me from my sin, or a tribulation and an anti-Christ. It’s not “Christ in heaven, the hope of glory,” it’s Christ in me, Christ in you! He’s already here.
All of my hope is in what I’ve already received. I’m not waiting on “more of God,” I’m not begging to be purified and forgiven, I’m waiting on myself to discover and accept what God has already given, and what it truly means to have all of His fullness (Col. 2:9-10) and all of His kingdom (Luke 17:21) within me.
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. – Eph 4:15
I’m still learning to have as much grace for myself as God has for me. I’m hard on myself sometimes when I screw up or act up. I have to remind myself that I’m growing up into Him. I’m like an angsty teenager in the spirit, becoming a man!
Sometimes I throw a fit when I don’t get my way. Sometimes I run off full of emotion and say something stupid, but my Father understands that and He gives me grace and room to grow. He doesn’t punish me and make me afraid to explore what I’ve been given.
Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” – Gal. 4:6
I’m not a sinner with a sinful nature and a wicked heart. I’m a son, and God has sent His Son into my heart. Jesus, not sin, is what influences the way I think and feel. Reality is when I think and feel what He thinks and feels. It doesn’t mean I don’t ever feel sad or depressed, but it does mean that, while those feelings are really happening, they aren’t my reality.
God thinks you’re great. The way He speaks of you is not in a way where He’s waiting for you to fail, but in a way where’s He’s has set you up to succeed!
You’re the only one anticipating failing and disappointing Him. He looks at His son in you and can only anticipate goodness and success because Christ is love, and “love never fails.”
I Don’t Need a License to Sin
Do you think anyone has ever gone to sin, then they stop suddenly, pat their back pocket, and let out a disappointed sigh. “Ah, jeez! I must have forgot my license to sin at home! Guess I’ll have to come back and harm this person later!”
That’s silly! Nobody has ever needed a license to sin.
There have been multiple occasions where I’ve show somebody extreme kindness. If they’re short on money, “Here’s $100!” If we’re out to lunch, “I got this!” And sooner or later some of them intentionally start trying to take more and more from me. Even though I’ve already demonstrated that all they have to do is ask if they’re in need, they still insist on taking!
Their selfish intentions aren’t an indicator that something is wrong with my heart or my desire to be kind. I like to give, and if somebody wants to take advantage of that, that’s their issue.
Why do you think Jesus said, “If someone steals your jacket give them your shirt!” Because why should the wicked intentions in their heart create wicked intentions in mine? Why should their cruelty cause me to withhold kindness? Better for me to lose my shirt than to take on their twisted perspective of life. If I need a shirt, I’ll buy another shirt!
It’s the same with this license to sin stuff.
God has given us “grace upon grace,” and “where there is sin grace hyper abounds.” If somebody takes advantage of that and says, “God forgives me so I’m going to do what I want!” that’s not an issue with the message giving them license to sin, it’s an issue with their heart and their way of thinking. It’s not the message that needs a change, it’s their mind.
Grace for me isn’t a license to sin, it’s a license to be free from the sin I never thought I would be free from until this body croaked and turned to dust. The message about Jesus is that you don’t have to wait until death to experience heaven. Heaven couldn’t wait that long so He came to you!
If you hear “Grace” and think “Oh no! They’re trying to get me to sin!” it’s not the message that needs renewing, it’s your mind and what you think about what Jesus did. Thankfully, there are plenty of places where you can hear about grace these days!
Questions? Feel free to leave a comment!