We as Christians have all embraced grace on one level or another – that’s what makes us Christians! The problem however, is that not everyone knows what grace is and how to apply it to their lives.
I’ve noticed over the last few years a lot of prominent (and not so prominent) leaders highlighting some major concerns in the church as it pertains to grace.
Because I’ve received a lot of requests to weigh in on this – I have decided to talk about the 3 most dangerous “grace movements” in the Church today and how you can spot them easily.
Please Note: While these 3 movements all exist individually, what you will probably find is that the majority of churches which fall into one category tend to have a strong mixture of all three!
False Grace Movement #1: Elevates Works Over Faith
This movement’s ignorance of what grace is causes them to spend all their time trying to become more holy. They believe that God will relate to them based on their good works.
They pay lip service to the fact that God has forgiven all sin – but really they don’t believe it because they live constantly in fear of sinning.
Here are some ways you can spot this false grace movement:
|God completely forgives all sins and no longer deals with us based upon our actions.||God has forgiven us but our actions determine the depth of relationship we can have with Him.|
|God has made you righteous and holy, as you focus on this truth, your conduct will come into alignment.||In Christ, God sees you as righteous and holy but you are still a sinner beneath the surface, you must try to become more holy and righteous.|
|Understands that the law was a temporary covenant to show us that we couldn’t please God by our actions and that God has created a new covenant – Christians are no longer under the law.||Requires a constant study of what is right and wrong (most sermons will be about what you should do, not about Jesus). There is lots of shame, guilt and subtle punishment in the form of “discipline” when you fail to do what’s right.|
|Says – “I am a saint”.||Says – “I am a sinner”.|
|Identity is rooted in God’s word.||Identity is rooted in our actions.|
False Grace Movement #2: Talks About Jesus’ 2nd Coming More Than Jesus’ 1st
This movement’s ignorance of what grace has given them causes them to fixate on the 2nd coming of Christ to an extremely unhealthy degree.
By doing so, they effectively communicate that they are not happy with the job Jesus did the first time round and would like Him to come back and do what they really want this time.
Here are some ways you can spot this false grace movement:
|Believes that God has a plan to bless the Earth and that we as His children are a part of that.||Believes that the world is an awful, dirty place that God wants to waste away and eventually be burned to a crisp.|
|Creates a heavenly mindset of overcoming the world and reigning in Christ.||Creates a victim’s mindset that is scared of the world and the devil. Causing Christians to hide, praying and fasting in an effort to look busy as they wait for Jesus to come back and rescue them.|
|Believes that Jesus did a mighty work the first time He came and it was more than enough to bring total transformation in our lives.||Believes that Jesus only did a partial work on the cross and that we are waiting for Him to come back and finish the job.|
The Better Coming of Christ… I Mean… The 2nd Coming of Christ
False Grace Movement 3: Focuses On Our Attempts To Be Intimate With God
This group sounds really good, right? I mean, this is the very foundation of Christianity – it’s why Jesus died for us! So we could be made one with Him.
But this movement’s ignorance of grace causes them to focus on intimacy as something to be attained rather than something we already have which can be enjoyed today.
Here is how you can spot this false grace movement:
|The Christian life is all about abiding in Christ. By Christ’s death on the cross we have been made one with the Godhead and can enjoy union with God 24/7, entirely by God’s initiative, not ours.||The Christian life is all about getting closer to God. We must try to grow closer in relationship with God, which is a 24/7 job.|
|We need only believe and we get to enjoy intimacy with the Father.||We must become more hungry and aware of how much we lack God so that we can press in, by prayer, fasting and trying to be more holy – so that we can start to grow closer to God.|
|Is satisfied with the fullness that Jesus has given us, all the while, remaining excited about the journey of experiencing it more and more every day.||Is desperate for more of God, never satisfied and constantly aware of a lack.|
|Is focused upon a growth within God that comes from abiding, a growth IN all He has given us.||Is focused upon a growth towards God that comes from striving, a growth from lack towards less lack but never complete.|
|Believes that Christ IN us is the hope of Glory. We have been made the temple of God, the holy of holies. Have access to the presence of God 24/7.||Believes that God’s presence only shows up when we corporately please Him, with our worship, prayers, fasting and combined hunger.|
|Focuses on the habitation of God.||Focuses on the visitation of God.|
Warning: Trying To Grow Closer To God Is Bad For You
Come Holy Spirit
The simple formula to spotting all false movements
I know personally how hard it can be to spot these movements – I’ve been involved in all 3 at some point in my life to pretty serious degrees! I even preached some of this stuff!
These are just what I believe to be 3 of the biggest false movements in the church, there are many, many more though. For that reason I want to give you a very simple formula that will help you know if you are being deceived or if you are enjoying all that God has for you as a Christian. I would hate for you to embrace a “false grace movement”.
|Your relationship with God, standing before Him and personal development has NOTHING to do with your conduct but everything to do with Christ’s gift of grace to you and your free and simple acceptance of that gift. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.||Your relationship with God, standing before Him and personal development is deeply tied to your conduct. You thank Jesus for His gift of grace and acknowledge that without it you would be nowhere but then try to add to that grace by doing your best to change, grow closer to God and improve yourself. It’s mostly fruitless, extremely difficult and frustrating.|
Or more simply put:
If your holiness or relationship with God is solely reliant on Christ = Grace
If your holiness or relationship with God is in any way reliant on you = False Movement
There you have it – these are the 3 most dangerous “grace movements” in the church today and how you can spot them. As well as my simple formula to spotting any others that are out there.
If you go to a church or are around a lot of other believers who are wrapped up in these false representations of grace you might want to watch this video: Being Gracious about Grace
If you yourself think you might be misunderstanding grace and are only just realising it, I strongly recommend you read the further reading recommended throughout this article, and check out some of the in depth video resources on The Grace Course which I believe will help you especially!