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The Hyper-Grace Heresy, Pt. 3

Is God Always Pleased with Us?

Choosing good or evil

by Dennis Pollock


I have written two previous articles about a movement that is fairly widespread in the church today, which I call the Hyper-grace heresy. The major proponents of this view speak much about grace, and when challenged, they suggest that anyone who would dare contradict their opinions must surely be against grace and therefore anti-Jesus. I would beg to differ.

Not all that is called grace is grace, and not every doctrine, church, or minister who hides behind the name of Jesus is accurately presenting a Biblical perspective of Jesus. While I had not intended to write a third article on this subject, some of the views and teachings being pushed vigorously upon the body of Christ are so outlandish and so patently unbiblical that I felt compelled to address one more facet of this fallacy.

It is amazing to me that many of the doctrines of this movement are so entirely new to Christianity and so unlike anything the church has ever seen that it becomes necessary to answer questions and refute ideas which the church, until now, has never even thought worthy of discussion. In the last study we looked at the question: “Do Jesus’ words mean anything to us today?” When, until recently, did Christians ever find it necessary to debate that topic? Had you asked Christians of any and every stripe in generations past if Jesus’ words meant anything to believers, the answer would always have been a universal protest: “Of course His words are meaningful!” But today we have more than a few pastors telling us to essentially ignore all the words, commands, precepts, and teachings of Jesus we find in the gospels, save for those spoken after His cross and resurrection. Those “pre-cross” words and teachings, in their minds were FJO – for Jews only!

The question we will look at today is every bit as outlandish and would never even need addressing, if we lived in any other age but this one. That question is: “Is it possible for Christians to ever displease the Lord?” or to put it another way, “Is God always pleased with us?” Believers of every age from the New Testament church until our fathers’ generation would all have answered similarly, and that answer would have been: “Of course we can please or displease God. Everybody knows that!” But apparently everybody does not know that, and for this reason we will consider the question in this study.

Their View

The hyper-grace followers would tell us that God is always pleased with us. When He sees us He sees Jesus, so how could He ever be displeased? He is pleased with us on our best day and He is equally pleased with us on our worst day. He is pleased with us when we are lusting over Internet pornography and He is equally pleased with us when we are fasting and praying for our community. He is just as pleased with the man who is so obnoxious that he destroys every relationship he enters as with the kindly, compassionate individual who is well thought of by everyone. He is just as happy with his lying, angry children as with His honest, gentle ones. He looks at one and all and sees Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, and is utterly and totally oblivious to any sins, faults, and flaws that we may have or poor behavior that we may exhibit.

Those who hold such ideas are failing to make a distinction between our legal status and our day to day relational status in the sight of our Heavenly Father. It is true that legally we are justified 24/7. We are and will be children of God today, tomorrow, and forever. We are no less sons and daughters of God on our worst days than on our best days. We are forgiven, justified, and accepted as children of God when we are screaming at our spouses and when we are weeping and praying, with the Holy Spirit all over us. There is no going in and out as children of God.

This is true of us as well, with our own children. Our kids are our kids on their good days and on their bad days, when they are driving us crazy and when they make us thrilled to be their parents. Their behavior does not in any way affect their status as our children. But this status does not mean it is impossible for us to be upset with them, or that because they belong to us we are totally blind to their poor behavior and bad attitudes. We discipline them, we raise our voices to them, we spank them, and we take away privileges because we care about them and we are not about to allow them to grow from little monsters into big monsters and become a pariah in the world.

Aim to Please

A major Biblical refutation of this erroneous and bizarre concept has to do with the many, many exhortations in the New Testament for us to please God. Over and over again we find the inspired apostles encouraging us to walk in such a way as to please our Heavenly Father. Paul speaking for himself, declares, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him” (2 Corinthians 5:9). His goal or aim was not to win a certain number of souls or to build more churches than any other apostle. His life’s goal was not to win a place among the men of God’s Hall of Fame (although he certainly does deserve to be there). No, for Paul the goal was much more simple – his aim, in life and in death, was to be well pleasing to God. Too bad there weren’t some hyper-grace folks around to tell him there was no need to worry about that – God was always well pleased with every Christian, every day and every hour.

Paul not only aimed to be pleasing to God himself; he desired this for every believer. In writing to the Colossian Christians, he declared:

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9, 10).

To walk worthy of the Lord and fully please Him sounds like a noble goal, and for century after century Christians took these words exactly as they read. But today we have ministers telling us that we always please God in every way, regardless of how we walk – whether in carnal selfishness and lust or in godly devotion and purity.

Paul writes to the Thessalonian church:

Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God.

Apparently Paul considered instructing believers in the ways by which they “ought to walk and please God” as an important aspect of his ministry to the church. Again, this would make perfect sense to anyone whose mind has not been warped by some of these extreme “grace” teachings which insist that pleasing God has nothing to do with how we walk or how we live. We don’t need to do anything to please God, according to them. He is so thrilled that we are now Christians that even if we spend all the rest of our years watching dirty movies on television and drinking ourselves silly every night, God couldn’t possibly be any more pleased with us!

Commanding the Inevitable

Imagine a man who spent all his time traveling the length and breadth of the earth teaching and instructing people about the importance of breathing. In every seminar he hammers home his major theme, which is that people need to breathe. He warns people in solemn tones of how dangerous it is when we stop breathing, and that everyone who ever stopped breathing ended up dying almost immediately. This man creates numerous YouTube videos about just how important it is for all people: Africans, Asians, Americans, Mexicans, and everybody else to breathe regularly. He passes out buttons and stickers which say, “Don’t forget to breathe!”

What would you think of such a man? I think we would all agree that this man is wasting a lot of time and energy. It’s not that we would disagree with his main point. We would all agree that breathing is important; indeed it is vital to life. But the reason this man would be wasting his time is that we all breathe, with or without his efforts. There is no point in commanding people to do something they already do all the time. It would be like commanding dogs to bark or birds to fly or demanding fish to swim. It is futile and meaningless to command that which is always done.

In a similar manner, it would be foolish for Paul and the others to command us to seek to be well pleasing to the Lord if we were already well pleasing, and in fact could never be anything but well pleasing to Him. But the Bible tells us this is not the case. In fact another of Paul’s exhortations runs directly contrary to this view, as he writes, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30). Paul says this because he knows, as every believer should know, that it is very much possible to grieve the Spirit. We can offend Him, we can insult Him, we can grieve Him. And when the Holy Spirit is not happy with us, it is definitely not a good thing!

“Things Against You”

As Jesus addresses the churches in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, He declares three times that He has a real problem with them:

  1. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4).
  2. But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality” (Revelation 2:14).
  3. Nevertheless I have a few things against you…” (Revelation 2:20).

Not only does Jesus declare that He has things against these believers; He also makes some pretty serious threats of future judgment if they do not repent of their wicked behavior. He says He may put some of them to death and some will be cast them into great tribulation. Does this sound like God is always happy with us every hour of every day, regardless of our behavior? If Jesus could have things against those early believers, is it such a stretch to believe that He might have a few things against some believers today who profess the name of Jesus but live ungodly, carnal, selfish lives?

Paul declares that some of the Corinthian believers are taking communion in “an unworthy manner,” and announces that this is the reason that “many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.” And in saying that they sleep, Paul is not saying they are taking a nap; he is declaring that they are dead! How does this square with this heretical concept that God, whose eyes are like a flame of fire, is so feeble and blind that He never notices the sins of His children?

The Real Grace

Is there no grace to be found with God? Of course there is. But His grace is for the repentant whose weeping eyes are focused upon Jesus, not those who practice sin freely and revel in it constantly while proclaiming, grace, grace, and more grace. The grace of Jesus brings forgiveness, and it also brings power to overcome the dominion of sin. In Romans we read, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). In that same chapter Paul goes on to say, “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life” (Romans 6:23).

Let us then make Paul’s aim our own, that whether in life or in death, whether in prosperity or struggle, when the sun shines brightly on our lives, or when the dark clouds of uncertainty and danger make every day a challenge, we might live to please and glorify our great Heavenly Father, our compassionate Savior, and our mighty indwelling Comforter.


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