There is a strange movement sweeping through the church at this very moment. Thousands are choosing to leave their Sunday best at home opting instead for much, much less – in fact they are wearing nothing at all. Unthinkable?
I would have thought so myself, until an individual that I respected showed up at church one Sunday pompously parading himself around “au naturale”. It wasn’t long before others caught wind of his revealing revelation and followed suit… or without suit. As a caring pastor I had to investigate.
“What are you doing my friend?”
“I’ve discovered a new revelation, the gospel of grace. I’m clothed in righteousness, I have need of nothing else!” He proudly responded.
I listened, trying to understand. What I heard was a “revelation” that abused truth and the fruit of this “truth” was sour, not sweet. I sought to lovingly correct the error, but was berated by this grace evangelist along with his growing number of nudist who mocked my “traditional, judgmental, religious, old-time holiness” view of Scripture.
Hans Christian Anderson penned a short tale of an arrogant emperor who employed two tailors to fashion a suit unlike any other. The two tailors returned with a robe that was “invisible to those unfit for their position.” Though the emperor could see nothing, he pretended as if he did, unwilling to admit that he was “unfit”. So the king, his royal court and all his subjects ignored the obvious and joined in the grand charade. It seemed the entire kingdom was willing to follow their foolish king. That was until an innocent child loudly proclaimed the obvious truth, “he isn’t wearing anything at all!”
The same thing is happening today! People pleasing preachers tailor fit God’s precious Word to fit the flesh. They trim and stitch away at God’s Word until they fashion a garment that sounds good to the ears, but is noticeably absent when viewed through the lens of God’s Word. This movement started long ago as errant preachers began to peddle a gospel that robed sinning saints in God’s grace covering their sin and shame, while leaving them the same. Multitudes flocked to this revelation thrilled that they could remain in their sinful lifestyles, believing grace was sufficient to cover their iniquities. Sometimes I wonder if these preachers have ever read the Word from cover to cover!
This is nothing new. John was given a letter from Jesus to the church of Laodicea warning them to repent of such things:
These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:
I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:14-22)
The people of this prosperous church said, “I am rich, I am wealthy, I have need of nothing”. They were well clothed in their eyes, robed in their own tailor fit clothing. Jesus said in My eyes, “you are wretched, you are miserable, you are poor, you are blind and you are naked.” A church full of Christian nudist. No doubt their teachers, preachers and even parishioners taught a version of Scripture that fit the flesh. It kept them blind to the reality. Now Christ, motivated by love, was sending someone to exclaim, “you’re wearing nothing at all!”
This passage has always stood as a word of warning to me. I stay mindful that it is possible for any of us, scripture says even the very elect, to be deceived. That is why we must stay in the Word least we stumble.
The “grace” teaching sweeping through the church today fashions a robe of righteousness that covers the saint in all their sins, yet lacks the power to set the saint free from their sins. The Christian Nudist I met at church explained it to me like this.
I spent my entire Christian life wrestling with the same sin. No matter how often I’d repent, confess and weep at an altar, I always walked away bound by my sin. I couldn’t get free. Then one day I stumbled upon the “gospel of grace” and discovered that I was already forgiven for my sin and that I didn’t need to be conscious of my sin any more. I learned that repenting was a work and I was trying to earn my forgiveness instead of just receiving it.
He was no longer convicted of his sin, he was now comforted in his sin. He then spent a considerable amount of time trying to convince me of this robe of grace he now wore. Why? Because if others couldn’t see it, that meant that it wasn’t there and that he was still bound by the same sin he was trying so hard to ignore. I tried to state the obvious, “You’re not wearing anything at all!”
I love God’s grace! Grace is powerful! Grace is unmerited! Grace receives us just as we are, but grace is far too powerful to leave us as we are! It works within us enabling us to become all Jesus is. Grace found me at an altar in 1996 and turned a lukewarm, back-slidden religious church kid into a radical, devoted disciple of Christ. Grace found me this morning and continues to work within me convicting me and enabling me to be more like Christ. I refuse to cheapen grace or worse abuse it.
There is many grace teachings out there. Some of it has rocked my world and made me appreciate it more each day. If the teaching you’re listening to is taking you into a closer walk with Jesus Christ and is exemplified with a Christlike life, then good. If the teaching you’re listening to is excusing a sinful and selfish lifestyle or if the grace you’ve been taught is allowing you to remain in sin…run!
The fruit of holiness and righteous become the outward sign that an inward work of grace has begun. I urge you to go check yourself in the mirror. If you are not seeing Christ’s righteousness at work in your life there is a good chance you’re standing around naked, mistakenly believing that you’re wearing a robe of grace.