Saturday, January 17, 2015

Hypocrisy Has a Friend in Hyper-Grace

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession...Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In a recent post, I mentioned the cheap grace of a woman who wrote a letter to her daughter’s stepmom. Many embraced this letter because they believed this is what grace looks like. The several comments I received were not about challenging my exhortation and rebuke, which called her, and those who think like her to repent, instead the comments attacked me personally. These comments basically made the point that I am in no position to judge and that I am self-righteous and bitter. I wonder if Paul received responses like this when he wrote his open letter to the Corinth Church, in particular, chapters 5 and 6 of his first letter…

Yet, if it is believed that this woman claims to be saved by the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in an open viral letter to the world, then it is every Christians responsibility to openly correct, rebuke and make clear to others that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is not cheap grace. Open rebuke is better than hidden love. And love is in question here. Who loves like Christ, those who rebuke, or those who enable others to remain in their sin?

On the surface, this letter seemed like a wonderful gesture and an example of the grace that the Lord Jesus Christ extended to us on the cross. Yet, the Holy Spirit should tell us that the title of this letter alone is not what it appears to be. 

“An Open Letter to MyDaughter’s Stepmom” should read like this to those who live under the grace and truth of Christ:

“An Open Letter on behalf of my daughter from a Woman content in my own Remarriage Adultery to The Woman Who is in Adultery with My Husband.”  

The moment that I read the words “My Daughter’s Stepmom” was the moment I knew that something was not right. Here is a woman who believes in cheap grace. She believes that she can be content in her remarriage without ever believing that her remarriage is adultery. All the while, she uses her daughter in this example to the world. What is she teaching us, and what is she teaching her daughter about grace and truth?

If I were to discern the truth about this, it appears that she is content in her new marriage, with her new husband, and that is the only reason for this letter. Also, she must also be content with the fact that her first marriage was either a mistake or that she and her husband are both content with believing that neither of them should have married each other in the first place. The grace she displays in this letter is hyper-grace, devoid of truth.

If she claims that her recent faith in Christ is the reason for the letter, then I have a problem with this, and so should every other believer. Instead of rebuking this letter, most people embraced this letter as an example of grace. The only problem, is that this grace is disguised as tolerance and mixed with self-entitlement. Those who love this letter are those who are in adultery remarriages and who have daughters with stepmoms. The grace they embrace in this letter is the not the grace they should have extended in their own marriage.   

 We live in a nation of cheap grace, devoid of repentance and devoid of the cross. This grace is sinister and is only applicable to the self-gratification of those who claim it. This grace is devoid of the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin. This grace is a flesh feeding and flesh gratifying grace applicable to those who desire the comforts and pleasures of a temporary life. This grace demands tolerance and denies truth. This grace is without the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am constantly asked to consider those who married and divorced before they came to Christ. The question is, how can you hold divorce and remarriage against someone who married before they were saved? The thought is that this person would not understand the importance of the wedding vow they made to his or her spouse. They will claim too that they never knew marriage was God's design.  Is this really true? Romans 1:18-20 says otherwise...

If we use this letter, and this woman as an example, we could say: "This woman wrote this letter after she came to salvation in Christ. This happened while she was in her second marriage. Surely we would not tell her to divorce from her marriage after she is saved. God hates divorce and that she should remain in her new marriage. Thus, her letter to her daughter’s stepmom is an example of grace."...

 The overall problem of this letter, and the overall problem of all remarriages after divorce, is believing that a divorce ends a one-flesh covenant of marriage. The Holy Spirit WILL convict you of sin when you read the word of God. If this woman and many others are not convicted that a remarriage is not a marriage, then they must skip over clear passages in scripture that call ALL remarriages after divorce the sin of adultery. 

I KNOW the Holy Spirit WILL convict her that her remarriage is not a marriage the same reason I know the Holy Spirit convicted me and others that a remarriage after divorce is not a marriage. The need to repent of sin will be there. Thus, repentance of adultery remarriage is dissolving this union. Getting a divorce from remarriage is telling others that your first marriage covenant is binding and will always be binding until death. Remaining in your adulterous remarriage is telling others that you will do what seems right in your own eyes. 

This is how this letter came to be. A woman and a man both believed that they could forsake their vows to marry another. They both believed that marriage is not something that requires the grace of Christ. The grace they demand is the grace from others to accept their divorce and subsequent remarriages, the grace they demand is that we accept this Open Letter to My Daughters Stepmom, the grace they demand is that no one call them out for their hyper-grace. Hypocrisy has a friend in hyper-grace.   

Here is the solution. The Lord Jesus Christ called us to repentance. Repentance from sin is admitting that sin is what stands between you and God. Thus, you will turn away from that particular sin (adultery, homosexuality, stealing…) and never, ever admit that it is not sin. Because if you ae truly saved, the Holy Spirit will convict you and you will feel the consequences of remaining in that sin. The grace we receive from Christ can only come through repentance. It will not always be an easy road since the desires of the flesh are ever present. However, at the baptism of our souls, we received the Holy Spirit. We can either turn to the Holy Spirit to guide us, comfort us, and provide is with a renewed mind in Christ, or we can quench the Holy Spirit and suffer after the consequences of our sins in the flesh. 

The Holy Spirit is Christ within us, the hope of glory. A life of grace is believing that the Lord Jesus Christ lives in you and that His righteousness cannot and will not tolerate sin of any kind. Thus, we will not only seek to show others the grace and truth of Christ, we will expect those who call Christ as Lord to do the same. As believers, we are on the road of sanctification that will be complete in the day of the Lord. We must encourage, rebuke, exhort, and defend the grace and truth of Christ with long-suffering and meekness.

 Divorce and remarriage should never be an example of the Church. Divorce is contrary to believing the power of the Gospel, and remarriage is a product of divorce, centered on fleshy desires and not a life in the Spirit. I hope and pray that the Church would stand up for the permanence of marriage. Marriage is such a wonderful example of Christ’s love for His bride, the Church. We need more believers to come forward, admit their sins and show the world that Christ came in both grace and truth. There is still time. God is patient with us and His love for us is evident in that he sent his only begotten Son, who came in both grace and truth.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

In Christ’s love,


Anonymous said...

Neil, do you believe in the term "born again"? Let's just pretend (except I'm not pretending because I actually do know this as fact) that she was not a believer when she got married the first time. And that she was not a believer when she got divorced. And that she was not a believer when she got remarried. But then one day, her heart was changed and she accepted the love of Jesus Christ as her Savior and was born anew. She happened to be married to this second man when this rebirth happened. A man that she, by then, had 3 children with. Can you please tell me where in the bible it says that in this circumstance, she should sin yet again and divorce her husband??? I am seriously wondering.

Also, you mention that if she is now a Christian that it is our responsibility to openly rebuke her? Have you even read Matthew 18? Because I think you are skipping a few steps here, pal.

Neil Novotnak said...

Yes, Anonymous, I believe in the term born again. If marriage was anything but a one-flesh covenant no man may break you would have a point in this response. However, your question on whether she should sin again and divorce her second husband is based on your believing her second marriage was a valid marriage in the first place. She and her new husband are in adultery, not a marriage.
Let us compare this situation to a man who is homosexual, who then is “born-again” in Christ. Would his new life in Christ allow him to remain in his homosexual lifestyle? We would say that a new life in Christ would have him repent of his homosexual lifestyle by either marrying a woman, or remaining single. We would call it hyper-grace and a false testimony if this man would say he can remain in his homosexual lifestyle. A person that gets married, regardless if they were unsaved or saved, knows that a marriage is a lifetime commitment until death. God made us that way. Marriage is His plan.
Divorcing your spouse and remarrying someone else is adultery. If God recognizes ALL first marriages of covenant, regardless if you claim to be an unbeliever or not, then He will certainly recognize divorce and remarriage is adultery and remains adultery until repentance. In fact, Romans 1 makes it clear that a person is without excuse if they claim to not know God. This would apply to someone who believes marriage is anything but God’s design.
As for the believer who remains in sin…The Holy Spirit will convict us if we try to remain in sin and the not call it sin. We are living in the New Covenant which views marriage as it was from the beginning. Thus, all marriage are a direct representation of the Gospel. Therefore, God is the officiator and co-covenanter in any one-flesh covenant marriage. The moment we divorce or believe divorce ends a marriage, is the moment we call God a liar and that His power to remain in covenant is useless. The spouse who remains in covenant, remains in Christ. The spouse who divorces or believes a divorce ends a marriage becomes an enemy of God.
The many in remarriages who claim God blesses their remarriages have already received the reward in this life. They are the ones most deceived and have most likely been handed over to their desires of the flesh. I know this is true because they are the ones most likely to become very upset when you call their remarriage an adultery and not a marriage in the Lord.
Again, this was an open letter and I am responding openly in love. This love is not an enabling love, but a rebuking, agape, eternal love warning her and everyone else who thinks like her that the Lord Jesus Christ came in grace and truth. I believe this letter will cause many to sin by believing that we should all accept this woman’s remarriage, that we should accept her response to the woman in adultery with her husband, and her false and damaging example to her daughter.
The love of Christ is not enabling someone to remain on a road to Hell. Adultery remarriage is serious, and has eternal consequences if there is no repentance from this sin. Do you believe that, anonymous? Before you judge me too harshly, read my all my posts. This blog is devoted to glorifying Christ and telling the truth about the permanence of marriage and had nothing to do with me and my own opinions on the matter. Romans 3:4