Before I dive into the scrumptious goodness of this article (sorry I couldn’t resist), I feel I must tell you what it is not about. The title may bring a lot of preconceived ideas to your mind. Well, let me clear some things up. This is not an article about the woes of mega-Church preachers. I will not be bashing the guy who smiles big and squints his eyes or the wiry little fellow who speaks with an Asian accent. I am not here to talk about the perceived heresy of those who preach grace and decry their failure (according to my standards) to preach on the subject of sin. If you were excited when you saw this article thinking that is what it is about then go ahead and click off of this page. You will find no sympathy for your cause here.
You see, this article is not about “them”, it’s about “me” and, though oddly narcissistic, that is the way it should be. Galatians 6:4-5 says, “But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load” (emphasis mine). That is the problem we have these days, it is popular to point out the supposed sins of others, especially the mega churches. The problem with this is if we focus solely on “their” sins then the only sins we are actually responsible for, OURS, will slip into the background and mercilessly destroy us, one day at a time! Are we supposed to confront sin in others? You dang skippy! But that can only be done once we have dealt with our issues (Matthew 7:3-5) So, why all the hub bub about Dangerous Grace?
Because a few years back, I found myself slipping into a very dangerous place. Back in 2012 I began a new journey in my life. Reeling from the pain of losing my sister to death, my marriage to divorce, my financial security to all out meltdown, and my identity to confusion and idolatry, I was at the place God loves to bring us; complete and total brokenness. He loves to get us to this point, not because He is a maniacal deity looking to wreak havoc in our lives, but because this is where our futile strength and defenses are wiped out and we are now open to receive the truth that He wants to give us and dish out a healthy dose of truth is exactly what He did.
Over the next months and years I began, through an insatiable hunger for Bible study, to see the truth of God’s Grace unfold before me. I began making a shift from the extremely legalistic ideas I had grown up believing to that of a Grace that frees me to realize ALL my sins are covered under the singular act of Christ’s death on the cross, the “It is finished!” of the cross.
As truth unfolded I began realizing:
– I am completely secure in His hands and, as John 10:28 says, “neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand” (“anyone” includes me and my choices)
– I am righteous, not because of my actions but His (Hebrews 10:14).
– I no longer have to ask His forgiveness for my sins in order to “continue being
saved” because He doesn’t even remember them (Hebrews 10:17).
– It is God who changes my actions and my heart because I am powerless to do
so (Philippians 2:13).
– I am not a “sinner saved by grace”. I WAS a sinner but Grace saved me and now
I am a saint, despite what my occasional failures seem to declare (1 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:6)
– My biggest problem is not sin but “reckon[ing] myself dead to sin” (Romans 6:11)
– I am righteous and it is not because of my actions but Christ’s (Romans 5:19)
In my previous blogs I regularly posted articles that proclaim the burden for righteousness doesn’t lie on our shoulders because Christ has already died to make us righteous, we simply need to focus on loving Him and learning about Him. The more we love Him, the easier it becomes to live a life of righteousness (1 John 5:3). So, this article is not a confession of me repenting of my posts over the last few years. Those articles are true and are very heavily based in a in depth study of God’s word. My focus on this blog will not change. Lee Lumley Ministries motto has been and always will be “Proclaiming the simplicity of Righteousness”.
With that said, I began noticing some things creeping back into my life that I knew were not pleasing to God. I found myself saying things, thinking things and doing things I thought I had long overcome. When sin raised it’s ugly head, I have recited my beliefs stated above, reminded myself I am secure, righteous, forgiven and that God is the one who makes it possible for me to change. Yet, there I was seeing little sins turn into a slightly bigger sins, then into much bigger sins and so on. Each time, I would feel sorry for them and desire to not do them again. I knew they were wrong and wanted to live a Godly life but I was slowly slipping back into the land of slavery to sin.
One day I asked God what had changed, why was I beginning to fall back into old habits and He decided to answer through an article titled We Should Be Weeping
by Jared Mulvihill on desiringgod.org. As I read it, I felt Holy Spirit saying, “This is your problem”.
The Missing Ingredient in my Grace Cake
I remember, when I was kid, begging my mom to make me a cake but she told me she was out of baking powder. Well, I didn’t care if she used baby powder, I wanted cake and since I could be very, eh hem, “persuasive” at that age, she gave in and made a baking-powder-less cake. You can imagine how that turned out. In case you’re not familiar with baking, baking powder is what makes the cake rise so my incorrectly prepared cake was flat and hard. That is much like what had been happening in my life recently. You see, in order for Grace to be effective, you must to have all the ingredients and my Grace Cake was missing a very important ingredient. As a result my righteousness was not rising
As I read that article I realized the ingredient I was missing that was keeping my righteousness from rising was repentance and the reason I was not repentant was because I had lost my sorrow for sin. Don’t get me wrong, I felt bad about it and knew it was wrong. I even wanted to overcome it and took steps toward victory but my Dangerous Grace was keeping me from the power needed to “rise toward righteousness. I had become so focused on “It’s by His power and not mine” that I had lost that deep, Godly sorrow for my sins. With a blinding fixation on God’s unfailing love and mercy I failed to remember the pain I caused the Lover of my Soul each time I sinned. My Grace was flat and hard and quite honestly, not very appetizing.
Let me stop here and say there is a difference between our spirit’s righteousness, which is complete the moment we surrender to Christ, and our flesh’s righteousness which is a slow progression toward righteousness where we, little by little, crush our sin habits under our feet. A.W. Tozer says, “The Red Sea took Israel out of Egypt but the Wilderness took Egypt out of Israel”. It took Israel 40 years to get their lust for the ways of Egypt out of their system and our fleshly righteousness will not be a quick fix either.
I once posted on my Facebook timeline, I posted, “Grace is the key that frees us from the chains that have bound us. Repentance opens the door to a new life of living in righteousness. Holy Spirit enables us with the power needed to cross over the threshold and walk in that new life”. You see I knew Grace had freed me and I knew Holy Spirit empowered me to live righteously but I forgot that without repentance I would keep walking into a closed door. The new life I so longed for was just a matter of inches away but I couldn’t reach because of that closed door.
The rest of the day all I could do is think about this and I began asking God to break my heart anew for my sinfulness. Throughout the afternoon as I thought about it, I asked him to renew that Godly sorrow I had experienced three years ago. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For it is godly sorrow that worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh to death”. You see, I had the sorrow of the world. A sorrow based in head knowledge of the law. I knew what I was doing was wrong but my heart is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) and still desired to live sinfully and it was killing me. Not that my salvation was in jeopardy but my ability to work for the kingdom, and more importantly my intimacy with God, was being strangled as sin gripped tighter and tighter around my spiritual neck. What I needed was the law that is written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33) and that only comes through repentance.
I am proud to say, that God answered my prayer that day through a pretty awesome and providential turn of events. Later that night I was driving in my car to meet a friend and a song came on that stabbed my wicked heart and let the sorrow come gushing out. It was a beautiful moment of Grace that reminded me how amazing God is to orchestrate multiple events to lead up to the day I realize I was missing something. Now, with all the ingredients I need, I can enjoy a nice big slice of Grace!
Peace, Love, and Awakening!