“Radical Grace” is Insulting to the Spirit of Grace
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
— Hebrews 10:29
In today’s church culture, we have the “ultra-grace” message, also known as “radical-grace”. The radical grace message essentially takes the verses about God’s mercy and forgiveness out of context in order to teach that one mustn’t worry about sinning, because God’s grace is more radical than we realize. This message is typically taught as a reactionary doctrine to go against hell-fire preaching which would leave people feeling guilty and condemned. Instead, radical grace preachers believe people should feel comfortable and at ease – even in their sin. Though there is an element of truth to it (that God’s mercy and grace is immeasurably greater than we could ever imagine), the radical grace message teaches about sin in ways that the bible teaches against.
Telling someone that they shouldn’t feel guilty about their sin (presumably because Jesus died for sin) is likely working against the Holy Spirit’s work of conviction which is meant to lead to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). Ultimately, this misuse of scripture is bound to comfort many people as they are on the road to hell.
We know from the immediate context in today’s verse that those who “trample the Son of God under foot” and “treat as unholy the blood of the covenant” is referring to those who deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth. It also refers to these people as enemies of God who have no part in Jesus’ sacrifice, and who can only expect judgment and raging fire. This kind of talk completely flies in the face of the radical-grace message.
This isn’t to say that Christians will never sin, or even deliberately sin for that matter. We know from 1 John 1:8 that we deceive ourselves if we claim to be without sin. Rather, this verse is a clear warning against those who have made a conscious decision to live in a continual state of rebellion to God’s law. To say the least, this verse is teaching us that if we are living in sin, we have every reason to be terrified of falling into the hands of the living God. It is definitely not saying that we should be living peaceably in sin.
This in no way takes away from God’s grace. On the contrary – God’s grace empowers us to be freed from the mastery of sin (Romans 6:14). God’s grace instructs us to deny godlessness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives (Titus 2:11-12). The bible teaches us that God’s grace is not only sufficient to cover our sins so that we can stand blameless before God on the day of our judgment, it also teaches us that God’s grace empowers us to live supernatural lives freed from the power of sin. That is a stark difference between a message that says, “God’s grace is sufficient to allow you to live in a perpetual state of sin”. Our verse says that that type of living is an insult to the Spirit of Grace, since that’s not what God’s grace is about.
Be discerning about what you hear in our church culture about the grace of God. Give yourself to the study of scripture above the teachings of our age so that you would not be carried away by Christian-sounding doctrines that insult the Spirit of Grace. Most of all, do not insult the Spirit of Grace by thinking that you are safe by living in a continual state of sin.
Heavenly Father, please help me to know and understand your grace. Help me see your grace more clearly through the scriptures, and through my own experience. Let the verses about your grace’s power to help me live a supernatural life be true in my life, as I help others experience your grace. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN!