What is hyper-grace?

Hyper-grace teaches an outsized theology of God's grace that overshadows our need for confession of sin and repentance. Teachers of hyper-grace fail to note God's other attributes of holiness and His call for followers to be righteous. They teach that there is no need to deal with our sin since God has forgiven all our past, present, and future sin.

However, this view is not biblical. Believers are saved, through grace, from eternal separation from God. It is true that all our sin—past, present, and future—has been completely forgiven. We are eternally secure in Jesus Christ (John 10:28–29). And yet, God still calls us away from sin. Romans 6 explains this well. We are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness. Why would we, being freed from sin, want to continue on in sin? God's grace is meant to free us, not to enable us to indulge in sin. Sin brings only death (Romans 6:23; James 1:13–18). Living God's way brings about life (John 15:1–11).

When Jesus spoke with John about the seven churches in the book of Revelation, He called five of the seven churches to repentance (Revelation 2:5, 14–16, 20; 3:3, 15–16). He said to the church in Ephesus, "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent" (Revelation 2:5). Second Corinthians 5:10 says, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil." The way we live our lives matters to God.

Those who are followers of Jesus are called to confess their sins. James 5:16 says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working" (James 5:16). John gives clear instruction to believers to confess their sins in order to experience forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). Paul counseled the Galatians, "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted" (Galatians 6:1). It is evident that believers sin, and evident that they need to deal with it when they do. God's standards do not disappear simply because we are forgiven of the eternal consequences of sin.

Teachers of hyper-grace sometimes counter and say that 1 John was written to unbelievers, but John clearly addresses this letter (book) to some believers he knew. They were his "little children." He wrote, "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1).

Teachers of hyper-grace say the Holy Spirit does not convict Christians of sin, but Christians know this to be false as they are convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit regularly in His effort to purge unrighteousness from our lives. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of Truth (John 15:26), not avoidance of truth (1 Corinthians 6:19).

Confession by believers isn't to avoid eternal punishment, as that has been decided by a decision to accept and follow Jesus as the Son of God and the propitiation for our sins (John 3:16–18). Confession by believers is to reestablish a close or closer relationship with God (1 John 1:9). Some teachers put it this way: Believers are positionally righteous before God, but practically sinful.

God's ways are not intended to restrict, nor are believers trying to earn God's love or forgiveness through obedience. Rather, obedience is a result of love (John 15:1–11). It is because we have been saved that we are enabled to live righteously (Romans 8:29–30; Philippians 2:12–13).

While teaching God's great mercy and grace for His followers is good and needed, we need to study and understand God's holiness and justice as well. We need to know the "whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). We are instructed to "pursue righteousness" (1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22; 3:16). In other words, we have not arrived and must grow spiritually, which includes confession of sin. How can we experience the spiritual discipline that Hebrews 12:11 talks about that leads to a "fruit of righteousness" if that is not in response to our understood errors and immaturities?

Hyper-grace rubs up against the teaching that there is no need for a moral law due to Jesus' sacrificial death and fulfillment of the Old Testament Law. This is called antinomianism and is directly refuted by Paul in Romans 6:1–2: "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?"

This is a delicate and somewhat mysterious balance: God's provision for us to be saved completely by grace alone, apart from works of any kind (Ephesians 2:8–9; 1 Timothy 1:14), and His expectation for our continued refinement and growth in righteousness (Ephesians 2:10; Romans 14:17; 2 Corinthians 9:10).

When we are saved, we are not only forgiven of our sins, we are transformed (2 Corinthians 5:17). The Holy Spirit works in us to begin to desire the things of God. Understanding who God is—His utter holiness and His abundant grace—we want to put to death the sin that is in us. We do not want to be like those "who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ" (Jude 1:4). Rather, we want to live a new life in the Lord, putting off the "old self" and putting on the "new self," as Paul explains in Ephesians 4:17–32.

John describes Jesus as being full of both "grace and truth" (John 1:14) leading the reader to understand that both are present – the need for truth coupled with grace. God's grace is, without question, more abundant than we can fathom. Salvation is a gift of grace. God justifies us and ushers us into a process of sanctification through which we become more like Him. Part of God's grace is life transformation and learning to live in righteousness. So we do our best to honor Him and live His ways. Ultimately, we trust that it is He "who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen" (Jude 1:24–25).

Related Truth:

Why is there so much conflict among Christians about law vs. grace?

The definition of grace—what is it?

Is salvation by faith or works or both?

How are good works the result of salvation?

Why does obedience to God matter?

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