“For certain men have crept in stealthily [gaining entrance secretly by a side door]. Their doom was predicted long ago, ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into lawlessness and wantonness and immorality, and disown and deny our sole Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).” [Jude 1:4 AMP]
In the first generation of the church, repentance and the grace of God were already attacked and distorted by false teachers. Remember, our Lord warned us “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing…” [Matt 7:15 (NKJV)] “Take heed that no one deceives you.” [Matt 24:4 (NKJV)] The apostle Paul also made it clear, “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” [2 Tim 3:13 (NKJV)] Peter agreed, “…there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.” 2 Peter 2:1-2 (NKJV)]
Now almost two thousand years later, the destructive lies have had lots of time to fester and rot the church from within. With the gospel stretched open to be wide and easy some preachers today preach universalism, God’s love will prevail and everyone gets a free ticket to heaven. They conclude there is no need to watch for righteous fruit in preachers, be on the guard for false doctrine, or worry about living by God’s rules. They proclaim “Grace frees you from all worries about judgment anyway.”
To illustrate this point here is a publicly posted comment on facebook in a disagreement over the question, should Christians have tattoos, “This kind of thing is what I believe pushes people away from Christianity. I’ve been saved by grace and I don’t believe that God ever intended for us to live by a set of rules. We are free to choose… I think if maybe we focused more on the fact that Christ died for us so that we could be free, instead of christ died for us so that we can live by a strict set of do’s and dont’s then maybe Jesus and what loving HIm really means would be more appealing to people.”
As you see, the argument is, Jesus died to set us free from His rules, and those Christians who think He “died so that we can live by a strict set of do’s and dont’s” is wrong. This is the ongoing argument today in the church. Is grace to set you free to do mainly what you want, setting you free from God’s specific rules that are a supposed heavy burden of righteous commandments that no one can do anyway? And since we live by grace, can we loosely follow Christ’s directions, and not sweat the obedience thing? Or is grace the solution to following God’s do’s and don’ts?
What did Jesus say? “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19 NLB) Well, Jude says, “ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into lawlessness” contradict (Greek meaning for the words deny or disown) Jesus and put words in His mouth. Grace is not a license to ignore God’s written commands!
Peter says this teaching is one of the many “destructive heresies” [2 Peter 2:1 (NKJV)] spread inside the church which will so attract the unfaithful that “…many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.” [2 Peter 2:2 (NKJV)] These preachers of false grace “allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption;” [2 Peter 2:18-19 (NKJV)]
False grace leaves people powerless slaves to disobedience. “They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” [2 Tim 3:5 (NLT)]
So real grace must be understood to be the opposite of what Jude warned and instead be the undeniable force of God to change people. God’s divine influence upon the heart [Strong’s Concordance definition of the word grace] is clear as Paul explains; “[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.” [Phil 2:13 (AMP)]
Grace creates a river of life gushing from within a believer first causing new and powerful desires to obey God, followed by the ability to live rightly and walk in righteousness. Real change happens through grace. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” [Titus 2:11-14 (NKJV)]
The Holy Spirit enters you at conversion to Jesus, and think of His unlimited power residing inside you. Like an atomic power plant, His power and virtue are overwhelming. If you plugged your house directly and solely into the full power of an atomic power plant you would see a hole in the ground where your city was. God gives you more and more grace, like the electricity that is brought to your house by the power lines, not like a one time atomic explosion. The humbled, repentant sinner receives the surge of godly power [a flood of grace, this is His divine influence] which causes a chain reaction of events inside.“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” [Romans 8:16 NKJV]
The collaborating evidence is the divine grace that immediately flows from the All-Powerful God now inside your human spirit, flooding you with new holy desires and energy. Like plugging a pinball machine into the electrical wall socket, new spiritual life ignites and activates all kinds of new things once dormant or non-existent without God. Yes, the Holy Spirit activates, or gives life to the dead spirit of the sinner, His grace flowing and connecting the Christian directly to Him and making him a brand new creature. “Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God.” [2 Peter 1:3 from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.]
The grace of God surges into the human spirit lighting up the conscience, establishing and stretching faith, starting cravings for fellowship, activating spiritual gifts, initiating a hunger for worship, kick starting new ideas of creativity, stirring new thoughts and ideas for discernment, and enlightening the heart with new wisdom; all functions residing inside the human spirit but now newly turned on by His mighty power! This flow of supernatural energy never ceases, because God’s grace has no end. And these new godly desires are the evidence of being a new creature in Christ. “It is God who produces in you the desires and actions that please him.”[Philip. 2:13 GW]
“Desire God’s pure word as newborn babies desire milk. Then you will grow in your salvation.” [1 Peter 2:2 GW] Because your spirit is the home of wisdom, God causes a hunger for His Word to gnaw at your heart. His will is to turn you from a simple fool into a wise and strong spiritual adult. “Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.” [Psalm 51:6 AMP] What is wisdom? It is seeing life from God’s perspective! So as you begin to satisfy the hunger growing inside for God’s truth, your spirit will experience wisdom, establishing the foundations in your soul [mind, will, emotions] to identify the foolishness of immorality and other sin.
And along with the new source of wisdom coming from God’s truth, your conscience is also receiving divine influence from God’s Holy Spirit, as conviction presses your mind when you are about to do something morally wrong, or gives assurance when you are about to do something morally right. Your new spirit now senses good and evil by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In time, as you gain understanding of the Bible, strong convictions grow, and new power is experienced to keep you from doing wrong. The spirit of the born again creature becomes strong and “by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” [Hebrews 5:14 NKJV]
And this seven-fold Holy Spirit of God [Rev. 5:6] makes sure every Christian has a spiritual gift activated at spiritual birth. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” [1 Peter 4:10] The Greek word for gift is “charisma” made from the root “char” which means joy. It is also important to understand, “charis” means grace, which is the desire and power to do God’s will [see Phil. 2:13]. So the flow of divine grace is therefore channeled through one of the seven grace gifts of Romans 12 for the purpose of empowering you to joyfully help and serve other believers supernaturally.
Authentic worship is centered in your newly enlightened spirit also. The Lord Jesus tells us, “God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality).” [John 4:24 AMP] This does not mean singing songs, even though praising the Lord with singing can be a part of worship. Instead, the Bible says spiritual worship is a complete surrender and sacrifice of your life to serving and obeying him. “I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.” [Rom 12:1 AMP] So, the Holy Spirit begins flooding your spirit with new longings to love and serve God with all your heart and actually loving your neighbor as yourself.
The true born again believer also has a new powerful force that is turned on at new birth which draws him to the Lord Jesus and other believers. This new fellowship is not friendship, but much deeper and compelling. The apostle John wrote, “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ…We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.” [1 John 1:3; 3:14 NKJV] Friendship is only an outcome of your soul [mind, will and emotions]. But, uniting in spirit with the Lord Jesus cements Christians and motivates them to communicate with their spirits, using their gifts and abilities to love one another. This is lasting fellowship.
Now this is only an introduction to true grace. Do not be deceived, real grace is given to every believer. The hypocrite inside the church will focus on selfish pleasure and this life. “But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it). So be subject to God.” [James 4:6-7 (AMP)] Learn to trust God and rest on His amazing grace to live your life for Him all your days.