How can the grace of God be perverted?

How can the grace of God be perverted?

In reality, God's grace is fixed and cannot be distorted. But what can be changed is the preaching of true grace.

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into indecent behavior and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude 1:4 (NASB).

It is strange, almost unbelievable, to read the sentence: "turn the grace of our God into indecent behavior." In truth, God's grace is fixed—as a spiritual reality. God's grace is God's own nature, His essence and will. No one can change or pervert it. But what can be changed or perverted is the preaching of God's grace—or the interpretation and understanding of God's grace. In some translations it says, “pervert the grace of our God.” Synonyms for "to pervert" are to corrupt, deceive, or distort. Peter uses the term "the true grace of God" (1 Peter 5:12). From this it can be concluded that if there is true grace, there is also false grace.

“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17. Grace and truth cannot be separated. They are two sides of the same coin. Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). A person cannot choose to accept grace and at the same time turn their back on the truth. Then you have also turned your back on grace. What does grace say? “[God]desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:4. Without acknowledgment of the truth—no salvation.

Reconciling grace and instructional grace

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8. Jesus became an atoning sacrifice for us. As sinners, we could not save ourselves. “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 2:2.

“These things I write to you, so that you may not sin.” 1 John 2:1.

“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.”  Titus 2:11–12

God's grace has a reconciling side, but also an instructional, or disciplining side. It is the truth and light of the gospel that has a disciplining effect (2 Corinthians 4:4; John 1:9). The reconciling side deals with the guilt of sin, while the edifying side deals with the power of sin. The reconciling side sets me free from the guilt of sin, while the discipling side sets me free from the bondage of sin.

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36.

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1.

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Grace and truth

Reading all that is written in Scripture about grace, we clearly see that grace is a power and a force that influences human behavior. It is a life-transforming power (2 Timothy 2:1; Romans 5:21; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Hebrews 4:15).

When grace and truth meet, truth, righteousness, and peace appear as fruit of the Spirit. Truth springs out of the earth (Psalm 85:10-12).

Any preaching that focuses only on the reconciling side of grace and does not include the disciplinary side of grace, the one that bears fruit in a righteous and godly way of life, becomes preaching that perverts, falsifies, or distorts God's grace into indecent behavior.

Perverted grace

How can grace then be turned or perverted to indecent behavior?

When you think like this: It's no big deal if I sin. Jesus has forgiven my sin, and He will continue to do so. Moreover, it is what He has done that matters in salvation, not what I do.

This kind of thinking leads to indecent behavior. Then you can even commit sin, i.e. violate a law that you are aware of in your conscience, without being ashamed. This is what Jude calls ungodliness.

"Certain people have crept in," says Judas. When you sneak in, it's because you don't want to pay the full price. You are looking for an easier way.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!” Romans 6:14–15.

From this we see clearly that the power and purpose of grace is to set us free from the bondage of sin. The way to this, and the absolute condition, is to receive Christ as our only ruler and Lord (Jude 1:4).

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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.