Let’s face it, American Christianity is so strongly addicted to various form of Pelagianism that to speak of grace the way the Bible does is to put one at odds with most Christians. Long gone are the days, or so it seems, when sola gratia had teeth in a large part of the church. A grace-soaked letter such as the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (see below) has become repugnant to the Pelagian-soaked people to whom Paul wrote: Christ’s body. For this reason, the church needs more “dentists of grace” like The Old White Guy, Steve Brown, who are willing to perform root canal jobs on Pelagian rot.
Steve understands the thick Pelagian veneer covering much of the church, and he skillfully uses tongue-in-cheek, shocking metaphors and double-take-inducing rhetoric to make Christians angry enough to stop and think like Christians (i.e. according to Scripture). For example, listen to him cut through the Pelagian crust in the area of sanctification as he tells Christians they get three free sins:
Every Christian I know wants to be better than he or she is. There may be an exception to that, but I haven’t found one. In other words, most Christians aren’t getting any better and sometimes are getting worse…but they really want to be better.
Do you know why most Christians don’t get any better or why you don’t get any better? It’s because you’re doing it wrong, dummy! You are obsessed with sin and your faith has become another “system of laws” whereby you feel guilty and try and try and try to do better. It doesn’t work, never has worked, and never will work. Only really shallow people keep doing the same thing over and over again with the same result, thinking that the next time the result will be different.
So stop it.
Why such shocking rhetoric? Many Christians think God saves them from hell, but they themselves have to work up to heaven, so to speak, effectively heaping a covenant of works upon themselves (i.e. living as if they can earn salvation merit with God by trying hard to keep His commandments even though Jesus has already kept God’s law perfectly in their stead).
But how could we ever earn (heaven and sanctification) what Christ has already won for us? Aren’t we who are united to Chrsit already “seated … with [Christ] in the heavenly places”? Only when we first understand our new identity in Christ are we then able to understand how to please God with our works, as a covenant of grace (i.e. living as if I am already a perfect law-keeper because I am one in Christ, and thus obeying God’s law not because I have to earn salvation, but because I have been freed by Christ to obey God’s law out of love!). In Paul’s words from Ephesians 2:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved– 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV; emhpasis and line breaks mine).
Christian, quit trying so hard to impress God with your obedience. Jesus has already pleased the Father; put your faith in Him. Who are you to think you could one up Jesus!?