Note: This is the fourth and final article in a series of articles by John Burton on understanding the threat of sin in the life of Christians.
There is, much to the chagrin of many, what is called false grace. I discuss this point in an article titled "Five Marks of the False Grace Message":
We believe in a theology of exemption.
A theology of exemption states that since we are saved, we are exempt from the penalties of sin. That there are parts of the Bible that no longer apply to us. Yes, it's a heresy. False grace removes bible-based responsibilities to respond to God in holiness.
The number of people who subconsciously or unwittingly embrace a theology of exemption is far greater than those who explicitly pronounce their agreement with this doctrine. Many subscribe to false-grace doctrines without realizing their deception.
Many have been lulled into a false sense of security while actually existing in an unsaved state. They are confident they'd enter heaven if they died, yet the reality is that they would not. They have come to believe they are exempt from certain parts of the Word of God that requires response.
1 Peter 1:15-17—"But as He who has called you is holy, so be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy.' And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your sojourning."
Be holy. God judges according to one's deeds. Those who hold to a theology of exemption don't believe they are subject to what this verse is communicating. The command to be holy is to them a great goal, but not a mandate. A principle but not a command.
Our name can actually be removed from the book of life—and that is determined by our obedience, our holiness. Sin can still separate a follower of Christ from him. The Rich Young Ruler saw that this was the case. He wanted to follow Jesus, but could not. He was not exempt from judgment even though he wanted to follow Jesus.
The argument of grace is actually quite revealing. People in the false-grace movement would say, "It's not possible to be holy, or to avoid sin, so thank God for his grace that covers those sins. In fact we are automatically holy ... innocent by association!"
Grace isn't meant to cover up sin, grace is power! Those who walk in true grace would never say that we, as Christians, are predisposed to sin! True grace enables us to do the impossible! False-grace confesses that we cannot. Because of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus, we now have something they didn't have in the Old Covenant—we have the power to obey! We can do this!
In fact, not only aren't we exempt from obedience in the New Covenant, the call to obedience is even more humanly impossible than in the Old!
Matthew 5:21-22—"You have heard that it was said by the ancients, 'You shall not murder,' and 'Whoever murders shall be in danger of the judgment.' But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be in danger of the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be in danger of hell fire."
We as Christians are not exempt from judgment or from the repercussions of sin. If we are in Christ, there is no condemnation, but if we are deceived by false theology into thinking we are in Christ, while actually living in disobedience, we are in trouble. We are not in Christ and there is condemnation. No salvation. The wrath of God remains on us. False-grace doctrine is eternally deadly. There are many people following Jesus today in an unsaved condition.
John 3:35-36— "The Father loves the Son, and has placed all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal life. He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."
John 3:18-19—"He who believes in Him is not condemned. But he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the verdict, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
Deeds. Fruit. Works. They are evidences of our position in Christ.
Yes, it's hard to get saved, hard to stay saved, but if we walk in humility and grace and in the Spirit, eternity with Jesus is our inheritance!
What About Grace?
I believe one of the most vile teachings the unbiblical grace message communicates is that we as Christians are hopeless—that we cannot find freedom from sin. It is presumed that we will continue in sin but we are exempt from judgment. What a fallacy that is! It is an offense to the cross to declare through our teachings that the sacrifice of our precious Lord is insufficient to keep us from sin.
True grace enables us to turn from temptation. Grace is power and we need a revelation of this power in the church like never before!
When we turn to God in repentance after falling, it's the mercy of God that keeps judgment from us. If we are truly in Christ, repentant and walking in obedience, God will always be there to help us through every addiction, habit, fear, inappropriate thought and attitude of the heart. His grace empowers us to win! The cross is that powerful!
I often hear Christians say, "Well, we sin every day." What? If we sin every day we have a serious sin problem. This is a very dangerous place to be. If we continue in sin, there remains no sacrifice for that sin! We need the true grace of God to enable us to walk free from sin, not free in sin!
We must shout this message and pray for a reformation in the understanding of salvation. Christian Universalism is moving at great speed. A local well known minister has recently declared their church to be gay friendly, that the Bible in it's current form is not the accurate Word of God and that they believe that all will ultimately be saved. My God!
This is a manifestation of a theological thread that is weaving into the fabric of mainstream Christianity.
This is exceedingly dangerous. Will you help sound the alarm? We must slow the flow to hell and our mission begins in the church.
"For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God, and if it begins first with us, what shall the end be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And 'If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?'" (1 Pet. 4:17-18).
Salvation is not easy to receive or continue in, contrary to popular teachings—but for those who are truly saved, we have a glorious eternity with the lover of our souls ahead of us!
I wrestle with the severity of salvation daily, and while I do fail at times, I do not have a pattern of sin in my life—not because of my ability, but because of God's. This must be the testimony of all, and from that place we can live in never-ending joy, freedom and abundant life!
"Those who heard this said, 'Who then can be saved?' He said, 'What is impossible with men is possible with God.' Peter said, 'Look, we have left everything and followed You.' He said to them, 'Truly, I tell you, there is no man who has left his home or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life'" (Luke 18:26-30).
John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought out teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. John has authored nine books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Additionally, he planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer and revival focused ministry school in Detroit called theLab University. John's mandate is to call the church in the nations to repentance from casual Christianity and to burn in a manner worthy of the King of Kings. He is equipping people to confront the enemies of God (established religion, Jezebel, etc.) that hinder an extreme, sold out level of true worship.