Grace is abused when it is used contrary to the original intent or purpose of the Giver of grace. Grace came to produce righteousness and bring humanity into the glory of God.
When it is manipulated to produce the contrary, sin and shame, it is being adulterated. The abuse of grace is a systematic and satanic attack against the freedom we have in the grace that is in Christ.
An Early Origin
The abuse of grace is not new. It did to start with this generation.
It fact, this abuse is as old as the revelation of the word of grace to the Church through the apostles. Grace was abused from its very inception in the Church. While Paul was still in the process of unleashing the revelation of grace to the early Church, he learned of men who had given another meaning to the gospel he preached. Paul taught that,
The law came along to multiply the trespass. But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more (Romans 5:20 HCSB)
As sin increases, there is more grace granted of the Lord. This is true and grace will abound when sin abounds. This message was abused into the very ears of Paul.
And why not say, just as some people slanderously claim we say, “Let us do what is evil so that good may come”? Their condemnation is deserved! (Romans 3:8 HCSB)
There were folks who had twisted Paul’s teaching to imply that since grace increases when sin increases, we can therefore continue to sin so that grace will increase. Thank God Paul was there to clarify what he had taught. But the damage was certainly not completely recovered.
The abuse of grace was perpetrated by some folks that the Apostle Jude calls “certain men crept in unawares”
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4 KJV)
The apostle Peter also commented on these men:
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. (2 Peter 2:1 HCSB)
These men crept into the Sheepfold and certainly corrupted the hearts of the sheep with their polluted teachings. The abuse of grace begins with these men. Those who seem to have “another revelation” and lead many astray.
Men Unawares Crept In
We are not told clearly in this scripture who these men identified as “some” in the scripture above were. But the Apostle Jude gives us a little more information about them.
I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into our churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows them to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago (Jude 1:4 NLT).
These men are still around today. We know this for a fact because their doctrine and lifestyle are present today. It is added that the condemnation of these men is just. These men twisted the message of Paul to mean what they wanted.
There was another distinct camp of of men who stood as foes to the message of grace.These were the slanderers. They were the religious people who spoke against the things spoken by Paul. These were not men who twisted the message for their lusts. They were men who were religious, but distanced themselves from what Paul was saying as heresy.
But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to oppose what Paul was saying by insulting him. (Acts 13:45 HCSB)
The Difficulty with the Abuse
A major issue with the abuse of grace is that these folks are among church folks. The world will hardly say this because they do not even care. The license to sin question is among people who appear to be under Christ’s covering. Let us know it, and beware, that not everyone under the canopy of the church belongs to Christ.
There are men unawares brought in within us with their own agenda, whatever that agenda is. They are unsaved, unregenerate men who don’t fear God because their hearts are still hardened, callous and sinful. Their fleshly desire is their Lord, not Christ. But they are among believers. These men are a potentially deadly snare for us—the believers. Our naivety should be towards sin and not in foolishness. We should be wise.
Then come babes in Christ, and the stubborn and rebellious ones who still take delight in the pleasures of sin and are comfortable living in it. They willingly choose the path of sin, after having known the way of light. All of us still commit sin. That is not the issue at all. I heard a pastor who was involved in an near-miss accident tell me that while he was in the bus being swirled around, the fear of death hit as would be expected naturally in a situation like that. Then came his response. He admitted that he started confessing all the sins he could remember committing which he had not yet confessed. Wow, isn’t this a good description of most if not all of us? You mean God will base your salvation on your ability to confess all the sins you have committed, and if you fail to confess one, you will be thrown off? Are we serious? Is our salvation so shaky? Our salvation is founded on a solid rock, way off above that.
Abuse Begins with the Message
The adulteration of grace begins with the corruption of the word of grace. It begins with the message. Abusers will first change the interpretation of the message, and then perpetrate whatever they choose to make the text say. We should guard the Word of God handed to us. Abuse begins with the message. And if a heart is not under the worship of Christ, it will make the text say whatever it wants to hear. And there are itchy ears early yearning to hear messages that will tell them what they want to hear.
For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. (2 Timothy 4:3 HCSB)