A church becomes very legalistic and places great emphasis on doing and saying the right thing, abstaining from certain activities, etc. They're "pursuing holiness," but they begin trusting in their own holiness rather than in Christ's. If they continue unchecked, they may even start believing in and teaching works-salvation. The pendulum is way off to one side and is missing half of the picture...
...so, a group breaks off from that church, starts their own church, and out of a knee-jerk reaction to their issues with the false teaching of the old church, they go to the other extreme and begin teaching false doctrine on the other side of the spectrum -- that is, "we have liberty in Christ, so you can do whatever you want! It's all covered! There's no need for pursuing holiness or sanctification -- if you're doing that, you're trusting in your works... So just live however you want -- we're under grace!" This extreme can be equally as dangerous as the first.
This exact scenario is very prevalent in many churches and Christian circles today. You have the legalists on one side, missing the fact that their "good works" are as filthy rags in God's sight -- that He's not impressed with them, and that they will get them nowhere when it comes to their salvation. And then you have the people who are so consumed with teaching "liberty" in Christ, that they've really just become worldly, carnal Christians who excuse their sinful behavior by claiming that "all things are lawful for them" because they are under grace....
I have to say, I see more of the "worldy" extreme than I do of the legalistic extreme, but I know they're both out there. But today, I'm talking about the worldly extreme...
Due to a lot of false teaching and large, popular, unbiblical movements in Christianity, we're seeing a trend in which Christians are being discouraged from any sort of pursuit of holiness.
Unfortunately, this trend is creating a generation of Christians who have lost all their "saltiness" in a world that desperately needs the flavor of Christ. It's often hard to tell the difference between Christians and non-Christians today. They look the same, act the same, and engage in the same activities, whether these things fall under the guidelines of Philippians 4:8 or not.
Although all sin is covered by the grace of Christ for those who have placed their trust in Him,
the effects of engaging in worldliness and sin do have an effect on believers. Sin separates us from God. Choosing to live in it after we are saved creates a barrier in our relationship with the Father, and we become more and more hardened to the influence of the Holy Spirit. This quenching of the Spirit causes us to become virtually ineffective as Christians. We feel isolated from God, our prayers are hindered, we are pulled away from the Word and into worldly philosophies, and eventually, become slaves to sin.
Paul makes an argument against using our liberty to sin in Romans 6:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth untoGod. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.Unfortunately, we have many Christians today who have bought into the false teaching that grace gives them liberty to sin, and thus they have been taken captive by the "sins which so easily beset." These sins have consumed their lives and hindered them from their potential effectiveness for Christ in the world.
My husband I have been burdened for people in this situation, so to help, we created a ministry called http://www.gracetool.com/ .
This website is an online, anonymous, Scripture-based accountability site for Christians. It has peer-to-peer accountability and encouragement, and it offers tools to help you break down strongholds of sin in your life. It's free to use and requires no downloads or installations -- all you need is an internet connection.
I encourage you to visit the "About Us" link on the home page to learn more about the site, how it works, and the vision behind it.
It is our prayer that this website and ministry will be a blessing and encouragement to you, as a Christian, in your process of sanctification and the pursuit of holiness... not to obtain grace, but because of His grace. God bless.