My previous blog ended with this thought – “I know this is not the full story on everything, but it certainly is part of the story that we desperately need to revisit.” The topic covered was an attempt to express one side of the restoration coin when we encounter others that have sinned. Some of us struggle with forgiveness/restoration for ourselves and also in extending it towards others as freely as God seems to give it. God freely forgives/restores us:
If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
The word “if” starts the sentence in our English translation and is critical to the discussion. Jesus died to provide forgiveness for sins, but our personal application begins with “if we confess…” The movement for cheap grace and “sloppy agape” is not new. Paul, the champion of grace, was dealing with this issue in Romans 6:1-2 when he stated, “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?
Repentance, forgiveness and restoration are tied together. Repentance is the turning away from a sinful actions and lifestyle and turning towards a godly one. Repent and be baptized, repent for the Kingdom of God is hand, repent and confess, repent or perish, and dozens of other such references sprinkle the New Testament. Confession and repentance is a choice and a requirement to receive both forgiveness and restoration.
While I do not pretend to understand everything here, this verse in Hebrews certainly means something:
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26-27
There are those that seem to think that they can live in sin without any consequences. Lying, immorality, cheating, stealing, rebellion to authority, gossip, and a host of other sins, and they simply say, “I am under grace.” This is a scary place to be in my opinion, and I am certainly not referring to these folks when I speak of freely restoring fallen brothers and sisters.
Peter has some choice words for those who practice and teach what is false in 2 Peter 2. I will not quote the whole chapter, but certainly could. Consider these thoughts though:
2:2 – And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. What we practice speaks of what we actually believe.
2:12-14 – But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! They were present in the Church.
2:18-19 – For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.
Peter goes on and says that it would have been better for them not to be born! Harsh words, or perhaps not.
Giving into sensuality, boasting, adultery, immorality, pride, and all manner of corruption, and justifying the behavior by saying that I am under grace is clearly false teaching and insulting to the sacrifice of Jesus. The people Peter was referring to were part of the church for they attended the love feasts and are referred to as children, which is a family term. Yet, they lived as false teachers and presented a false picture of freedom in Christ.
Jesus died because of my sin, and to free me from its power, not so I could keep on living in it under the claim that I live in grace. I am free in Christ, but not to sin; I am free to walk in purity, holiness, love of others, and submission to authority, death to myself, and a host of other such freedoms. Nowhere in Scripture will you find that we are now free to live in sin because of the blood of Jesus Christ. That is a perversion of the grace of God poured out on us by the sacrifice of our Lord.
John the beloved apostle of love states it clearly:
He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 1 John 2:2-4
The next time someone living in overt, unrepentant sin tells me they are under grace, I guess I will just tell them they are a liar like John the apostle of love says, and go from there…BTW – if you are reading this and living in blatant, unrepentant sin, the Word of God is clear -confess and repent, and you will find cleansing, forgiveness, and restoration.