“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
I have met many so-called Christians who say they believe in God’s “amazing grace.” But their view of grace is totally out of sync with the text above just quoted. Scriptural, Biblical grace immediately carries with it the understanding and the impression, that God requires obedience to His moral law:–even more strictly than before the grace was given (see Exod. 20; Matt. 5-7). With grace comes an understanding of sin, and with an understanding of sin—forgiveness, and with forgiveness, RESPONSIBILITY TO OBEY THE LAW FOR ALL PRESENT AND FUTURE CONDUCT. That is, pursuing a righteous and godly life in Christ Jesus:–also called holiness.
The false doctrine of “cheap grace” as Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it, teaches us NOT to “deny ungodly lusts,” NOR to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” Cheap grace, on the other hand, is the idea (and the false interpretation of Scripture) that when God forgives your sins upon your faith in the cross, that not only all of your past sins are forgiven, as Scripture says (Rom. 3:25), but also that your present sins (that you are currently committing against the will of God on purpose in a rebellious and ungodly manner), and future sins (that you either plan on committing in the future, or will carelessly allow to happen because you are a carnal and wicked hypocrite) WILL ALL BE FORGIVEN?! Not only does Scripture never teach that the cross provides automatic forgiveness for present and future sins:–reason alone is enough to show that any good and conscientious judge, would never let a convicted thief off the hook without paying the penalty, nor would he forget any notion of parole, or need to REFORM THE CRIMINAL to ensure his future conduct will be good. God is no different than a good and responsible judge; in fact, God is more strict, because He is more knowledgeable of our sins, and infinitely more exacting with regard to “the law of righteousness” (Rom. 9:31). “Whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6).
There is no such thing as the “automatic forgiveness of sins” past, present, and future! Sins are only forgiven, when after one is freshly committed, there is a fresh repentance (turning away from that sin), fresh confession (sorrowful prayer of admittance of the sin to God), and asking of fresh forgiveness by faith in the “blood of His cross” (Col. 1:20) (fresh atonement, or application of the blood of Christ to the freshly committed sin). The Bible teaches us that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9) and that “if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous” (1 John 2:1). Sinning is natural; it’s likely going to happen; but it’s the exception to the rule in the Christian life! The rule of the normal Christian life is to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). That’s true Christianity. The exception to that is giving into temptation sometimes, sinning, and hopefully quickly repenting and by faith applying the blood of Christ to the new sin, obtaining a fresh forgiveness by faith alone (FRESH JUSTIFICATION). But only when you seek a fresh atonement for a fresh sin can there be a fresh forgiveness of that sin. Otherwise, “the wrath of God abides” on you! (John 3:36). And that’s not good. God is much more concerned with the NOW, with your PRESENT STATE before Him; there is no “easy out” with God. He does not treat your sins according to “past, present, and future” things, as if they were somehow disconnected from who you are, or what you are doing with your life. No, God wants to be intricately involved in every single detail of YOUR CURRENT AFFAIRS RIGHT NOW! So, involve Him in them by ongoing faith, godly thoughtfulness, and heartfelt prayer! “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). The devil is always trying to seduce your thought life into some temptation; usually something sexually immoral, or idolatrous, or materialistic, or money-loving.
There is not any kind of “automatic forgiveness of all sins” in the Christian life; you either continue to deal harshly with ALL SIN or you don’t even HAVE a relationship with God! To have a good relationship with a holy God, you have to have a really BAD RELATIONSHIP WITH SIN—you have to absolutely be at war with sin, hate it, see it as the harbinger of death, the flames of Hell, and eternal damnation. Idolatry, Blasphemy, Murder, Stealing, Adultery, Fornication, Love of Money, Dishonor of Parents, etc. These sins are the names of your mortal enemies…even if they are in your thoughts or heart. Jesus said, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish!” (Luke 13:3). In street lingo, that means: “REPENT OR PERISH!” “TURN OR BURN!” “HOLINESS OR HELL!” “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Pet. 4:18). “God is angry with the wicked every day!” (Ps. 7:11). There is no hope for an unrepentant sinner. The only thing he can hope for is to be “thrown” into the “fire of Hell” with “the devil and his angels!” (Luke 12:5; Matt. 25:41). It doesn’t matter if he goes to a Nazarene church, a holiness church, a Pentecostal church, or a Baptist church. Jesus said, “If you die in your sins”:—it’s DOOM ETERNAL! Sin, sin, “sin…righteousness, and JUDGMENT” is the eternal issue with God! (John 16:8). “Seek mercy while it may be found” (Isa. 55:6); and then after that, “pursue holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Don’t take salvation for granted! Life is not over till it’s over! Death and the afterlife will be the determining factor in whether or not you are truly converted, saved, and in right standing with God. I urge you all to “enter in the straight gate” of righteousness (Matt. 7:13):–it alone is “the path of immortality” (Prov. 12:28). That path is paved by the blood of Jesus Christ. WALK ON IT! AND DO NOT STRAY!