Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Positive Confession and Cheap Grace

I am noticing that the charismatic world is beginning to see a rise in cheap grace in the form of positive confession.  For many years, positive confession was the heretical notion that we need to speak only positive words and that God would in turn take the fruit of our lips and create into reality what we are confessing.  Much has written on this already but the best book I have read on the subject was A Different Gospel by D.R. McConnell.  McConnell shows how the roots of the positive confession movement come not from Scripture but from cults.

I have seen up close the positive confession movement.  I have been around people who would not confess they were sick (when it was obvious they were).  I have known a church that split when the pastor “confessed” that a brother in the church was sick and needed prayer for healing.  I know of people who would never confess anything negative despite ignoring reality.  For instance, I have known women who would confess “my child is saved by grace and is a child of the King” despite being a complete pagan.  I have seen wives “confess” that their husbands were godly men despite the fact that they were lost pagans.  I have seen churches who weekly have a  positive confession time where the crowd chants “I am…” and they fill in the blanks with “blessed”, “healed,” “adopted,”  “favored,” and the rest.  I remember when positive confession people were eating up Neal Anderson’s books because of his emphasis on seeing ourselves as God sees us and not as we see us.

The new move among positive confession folks is to now confess that they are holy and pure and blameless and loved by God despite living in sin.  They can break the laws of the land or watch ungodly movies or listen to ungodly music or do whatever they desire because they are “loved by God” and “holy in Christ.”  This new form of antinomianism is different however in that these folks will come together to pray for healing or for people to be blessed by God and despite living in sin all week long, they believe, because of their positive confession, that they are still accepted in the Beloved.  They see no problem with abiding in sin but claiming Christ.

Scripture, however, is clear on this issue of holiness.  The Bible is not silent on this subject.  Just read the words of John in 1 John 3:4-10:

4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Jesus Himself said in John 8:34-36:

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Notice that if we practice sin, we are slaves of sin.  John says in 1 John 3:6 that no one in Him keeps on sinning.  In fact, 1 John 2:1 is clear that it is the will of God for us not to sin.  1 John 2:1 reads, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

2 Corinthians 7:1 tells us what the true disciple of Jesus is to aim for:

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

I like how the NASB translates it better:

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

We can confess all day long that we are this or that but if our lives are marked by sin and rebellion, we are not saved.  Jesus makes this clear in Matthew 7:21-27 of who His followers are and who are not.  Those who claim to be His disciples will obey His Word.  Those who rebel are not His (Titus 1:16).

Jude the Apostle warns us in Jude 4 about these apostates who try to turn God’s grace into a license for sinning when he wrote:

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

We must reject any doctrine that does not lead us toward holiness and to exalting Christ.  Any teaching that exalts man or the flesh or allows for ongoing sinning without a call to repentance is not the gospel.  The gospel is a call to repent (Acts 2:38; 17:30-31; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10).  The gospel is a call to holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16).  The gospel is a radical transformation wrought in us by the Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Thus when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us, He, by nature of His presence, begins to make us holy and pure (Philippians 2:12-16; Hebrews 10:10, 14).  Our aim as children of God is to be like Jesus (1 John 2:6) in all that we say or do (Philippians 4:8-9).

No doubt there is a place for rejoicing that the gospel is not about what we do as much as it is on what Jesus has done.  We will never come to a place where we don’t need His grace or His mercy to help us be holy.  The gospel shouts to us that Jesus is our salvation and we are righteous in Him (1 Corinthians 1:30-31) but we also realize that sanctification is a synergistic work where we allow the Spirit of God to help us to be holy (Galatians 5:16-17).  We know that we can’t be holy apart from Him but as we abide in Him, He helps us to be holy (Romans 8:12-14).  The reality of our holiness is that we are holy through faith in Christ but we are also being made into His image by His grace (Titus 2:11-12).  The gospel declares that I am accepted before God through faith (Romans 5:1) but the gospel also works in me what is pleasing to God (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

11/20/2013 at 2:18 PM

One Response

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  1. Good word brother. The wages of sin is still death. So many people want God to save them in their sin rather than saving from their sin.


    11/20/2013 at 11:04 PM

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