It is one thing to downplay the ugliness of sin in the life of a believer. It is another thing to deny the existence of sin in the life of a believer. Yet today, there are believers who claim that they do not sin, even when they do. As scary as this deception is, the reasoning behind it is even scarier.
I first encountered this in some fringe hyper-grace circles, where the reasoning goes like this: “I am a spirit, I have a soul and I live in a body. My spirit is born-again, redeemed and perfect in God’s sight. Therefore my spirit—which is the real me—is incapable of sinning, which means that if there is sin in my life, it’s not really me committing the sin.”
Of course, there are some truths mixed into this line of thinking, but it ultimately leads to an unbiblical, very dangerous conclusion: “Yes, I sin, but it’s really not me sinning!” You can easily see where this nonsense can go.
One well-known hyper-grace teacher asks the question, “Does a daily walk of joyful, sinless existence seem like an impossibility?” He then assures his readers that it is hardly impossible at all.
A friend of mine became concerned by some teaching he was hearing in his church (a very well-known church in his region), and so he called the pastor’s right-hand man and asked him to answer a question with a yes or a no: “Do you sin?” The leader replied, “No, I don’t sin,” explaining that his spirit within him was perfect and sinless and that’s who he really was.
This reminds me of extremes in the Word of Faith camp where people were taught never to say they were sick, since they were already healed at the cross. Instead, they were told to say they were suffering from lying symptoms. (How much better it is to say, “I’m fighting some sickness but I confess that God is my Healer and that Jesus paid for my healing, so believe God with me for complete restoration now.”)
Because of this kind of thinking, a famous Word of Faith Bible school had to inform prospective students that they wanted “fact” answers on their applications rather than “faith” answers. Some applicants actually believed that they could “create new realities” with their words—“calling things that are not as though they were,” based on Romans 4:17—and so they would give false answers about their past education or drug use or finances. I kid you not!
Some extreme hyper-grace adherents will take a biblical verse and stand it on its head. For example, John writes, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9, ESV). But rather than understanding the plain meaning of the verse, namely that a truly born-again believer will not make a practice of sin, they conclude, “Even if it appears that I’m doing wrong things, I’m really not sinning, since God’s Word says that I can’t.” (I have read this with my own eyes.)
It appears that these deceived people have overlooked John’s exhortation just a few verses later: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (v. 18). In other words, don’t just talk about the new life, demonstrate it with your deeds.
It also appears that they have ignored Peter’s exhortation to his readers, “as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Pet. 1:15-16). Yes, our conduct matters—not just what our spirits allegedly do and don’t do.
That’s why Paul told the Corinthians that “the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:18-20).
A mainstream hyper-grace teacher once explained, “We are not our sins.” But what exactly does that mean? Perhaps an adulterous husband could tell his wife, “But honey, I am not my adultery!”
But it gets worse. There are some so-called believers who have become so deceived that they not only claim to be sin-free, they actually believe they have redeemed profanity and made it holy! (I expect that every mainstream hyper-grace teacher in the world would repudiate such trash.)
A concerned sister sent me links to a Facebook page where two consecutive posts from a deluded young man read, “Rage against the devil is a fruit of the Holy Spirit” (which doesn’t sound bad) followed by, “A fresh f— you from the Holy Spirit” (with the young man giving readers the finger in his picture; the profanity was written out in full). Others joined in the comments section with equally perverted garbage, all “in the name of the Lord.”
More than 1,900 years ago John wrote, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Ironically, some hyper-grace adherents who claim that this verse was written for unbelievers and heretics, not for believers, have embraced the very same heresy.
People of God, wake up! Deception can be deadly.###
Read the follow-up article by Dr. Brown to this article: “Hyper-grace Horror Stories”.
Pertinent Scriptures appended to the above article by the Editor (emphases added):
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
(2) May it never be! How shall we who DIED TO SIN still live in it?
(3) Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
(4) Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
(5) For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
(6) knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be SLAVES TO SIN;
(7) for he who has DIED is FREED from sin.
(8) Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
(9) knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.
(10) For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
(11) Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
(12) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,
(13) and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
(14) For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
(15) What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!
(16) Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
(17) But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,
(18) and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:6-9)
For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with FALSE WORDS; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Pet 2:1-3)
Five other highly recommended related articles on Spirit Life Magazine:
- The Perilous Path of Doctrinal Deviation
- Protection From Deception
- The Curse of Unauthorized Covenants
- The Danger of Zeal Without Knowledge
- WARNING: The Spiritual Avalanche That Could Kill Millions
Dr. Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries. Dr. Brown served as a leader in the Brownsville Revival from 1996-2000 and birthed FIRE School of Ministry in 2001. He has preached throughout the United States and in more than twenty nations and has written twenty books on revival, holiness, radical discipleship, and Jewish-Christian issues, along with scholarly works in Old Testament and Hebrew studies. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. He hosts the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio show, The Line of Fire, he is a featured columnist on TownHall.Com et al., and he is the author of many books, one of the latest of which is Authentic Fire: A Response to John MacArthur\’s Strange Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.
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