HYPER GRACE VS LEGALISM
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
(Gal 5:13, NASB.)
The doctrine on grace has become a controversial issue in the Body of Christ. Some assert that the sinner is exempt from any liability to act in response to grace; for he is, according to this theology, “utterly deprived” due to his sinful nature, and not even able to exercise the faith he needs to come to salvation. According to this doctrine, God does EVERYTHING pertaining to salvation, even on behalf of the sinner. Grace, according to this belief system, is irresistible. Then, on the other hand, we have some who assert that the work of cross should be made complete by observing additional rites, or works, i.e. striving to please God through good deeds, or observing Old Testament rituals pertaining to the administration of the First Covenant. In adding these “additional requirements,” it becomes evident that the gift of salvation, by faith through grace, in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, is not ENOUGH.
On a continuum, one could place these two interpretations of grace on either side of extremity. “Utter deprivation,” on one extreme, will lead to hyper grace, while “additional requirements,” on the other extreme, will lead its followers into legalism.
The Deceiver of the Brethren, Satan, ‘prowls about like a roaring lion’ seeking to devour God’s flock, (1 Peter 5:8). He tucks on the threads of both these doctrines to draw away as many as he can from the fullness of grace provided by the Father in His Son. Hyper grace, due to a false sense of security leading to passiveness, can easily lead to licentious living, which will inevitably result in unholiness, (Eph 5:1-17). Legalism, on the other hand, will prompt and feed on “self-attempt,” which will inevitably result in exchanging our liberty in Christ for “works of the flesh,” and thus to fall from grace, (Gal 5:1-26).
The apostle Paul admonishes the Body to be built up in the knowledge of Christ Jesus in order to be established as a “mature in Christ.” Paul longs that we should, ‘as a result…no longer be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to be built up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ,’ (Eph 4:13-14).
Even though these doctrines, on either side of the spectrum, may be endorsed by renowned men, it remains the responsibility of every Believer to seek the truth. Every doctrine will appeal to man in some area of his particular world view. We should be weary of accumulating doctrines to confirm or establish our own views. Paul specifically warns that the latter generation will be prone to gather teachers who “tickle their ears,” (2 Tim 4:1-4). We cannot assume that we are exempt from this temptation. The last 2,000 years have proved that man can establish any doctrine by quoting Scripture out of context.
These two extreme views on grace affect the stability of our faith in Christ Jesus! Both views will, in some way, also affect the extent of full access to the Father’s provision of grace, not only to establish us in righteousness through the gift of atonement, but also to complete our salvation through our walk of sanctification.
Let’s study the New Covenant together in search of a true understanding of grace, so that we can stand firm in truth; but also, essentially, that we might partake of the full provision of grace.