Being constantly surrounded with people and circumstances that demand from us our best performance, we can easily fall into the trap of feeling that God disapproves of us when we are not performing at our best. In our journey towards maturity in Christ however, it’s quite normal for believers to make mistakes.
God knew that we would not be instantly transformed in our minds when we became His children; the process of renewing our minds and overcoming old habits can sometimes take years. And in a world where churches predominantly preach law based and performance oriented living, we can often underestimate the vastness of the grace of our Father.
Let’s consider whether a believer can fall “out”of the grace of God. Some people may feel that there is a sin that God can’t ever forgive them for, perhaps unforgiveness towards another or maybe they’ve even committed adultery or murder. Let’s see what the Word says.
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. (Gal 5: 4 NKJV) The only way to fall out of grace is by trying to observe the law. We do not fall from grace when we stumble. In fact the more someone has sinned, the more grace God gives to cover that sin: Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. (Rom 5: 20 NKJV, emphasis added) Thus, when we sin we fall into grace.
Sin in the Congregation A number of Christians, when they realize this truth, go out and sin quite profusely, trying to make up for all the times they had restrained themselves previously, when they still thought that God would not accept or forgive them if they committed this or that sin.
The Bible teaches us however not to indulge in the flesh: For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Gal 5: 13 NKJV) Probably the most difficult thing for pastors / shepherds during this period is not to become anxious or insecure about their flock, even as they see how some Christians purposely set out to indulge in sin.
The law preachers would say that they have now given their flock “a license to sin”. This is why some preachers simply avoid teaching on grace, because they fear it would cause the church to break out into immorality. Well consider this fact: Christians sin, whether they are under law or under grace!
The only difference is that grace sheds light on the sin. The problem was always there, but previously it was under the covers and grace has now brought it into the open.
When someone turns on a torch in an old attic, they don’t say “Look at all the dust this light has created!”No the dust was always there, the light simply exposed it. But when a church has been established on the foundation of grace, even if some have initially set out to sin (all they will learn in any case is that sin brings about destruction, unfulfilment and bad consequences), they will always make the return to their Father when they know He loves them unconditionally, like the father loved the prodigal son in Luke 15.
In fact, God’s children would return faster and serve God even more than before when they realize that their destructive behavior does them no good and that only by running back to the arms of their Father will they find fulfillment in life. Are we willing to preach grace to the extent of being misunderstood, persecuted and hated, like the apostle Paul? …the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, [is] to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20: 24b NKJV)
Paul was serious to the point of cursing people about this specific gospel, namely the gospel of grace! But even if we or an angel from Heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! (Gal 1: 8 NKJV)
Are we willing to believe in the goodness of our Father so unconditionally that no matter where we may have run off to or what we have squandered our inheritance on, that we can still run back to our Father’s house and believe we will be welcomed with open arms and a fatted calf? Yes we can believe it, God is that good!