“Hyper-grace preachers say God doesn’t care when we sin.” Actually, we say God cares very much because sin hurt the objects of his affection—us! Sin damages people, fractures friendships, and destroys families. Sin hurts you, and that makes your Father sad.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Eph. 4:30–32)
Is God oblivious to our shortcomings and sins? When you sin does he act like Sergeant Schulz and say, “I see nothing”? Of course not. God sees everything. Our choices bring him pleasure and pain. Paul would not have written, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” if that wasn’t possible.
But you need to understand why God is grieved. He’s not grieved because you disappoint him. (Since he knows everything you’ve ever done and will ever do, it’s not possible to disappoint him.) Nor is he grieved because you broke his rules. (You are worth more to him than any rule.) Our sins grieve him because they hurt his kids.
Look at the sins Paul lists above and you will see they are all relational sins. They are the sins of quarreling, backbiting, and being a jerk. When we act this way we hurt those around us and make our Father sad. When we sin out of anger we give place to the devil and open a door to trouble (Eph. 4:26–27). That doesn’t make your Father happy and it won’t make you happy either.
Critics of the hyper-grace gospel say things like, “Grace teaches that God turns a blind eye to our sin.” It would be more accurate to say, “Grace teaches that God chooses to remember our sins no more.” But that doesn’t mean our sins don’t trouble him. He is our loving Father. He cares deeply for us. He is not happy to see us destroy ourselves through sin.
If Jesus didn’t care about the effects of sin, he would not have gone to the cross. Nor would he have warned the churches in Revelation about their bad behavior and unhealthy habits.
The gospel declares that God’s love is unaffected by our choices, but it does not follow that we can act without consequences.
Your behavior matters to God because you matter to God. He wants you to prosper and thrive in every area of your life. He doesn’t want you opening the door to trouble by sowing to the flesh. But even if you do—even if you make one dumb mistake after another—he will still be your Father and you will still be his dearly loved child. Your actions may be harmful and saddening to him but you will always be the apple of his eye.
Act like a sinner and you’ll grieve the Holy Spirit, but here’s what won’t happen: The Holy Spirit won’t record your sins, for he promised not to (Heb. 10:15–17); nor will he send you on a guilt-trip, for he’s the Spirit of grace not the spirit of guilt; and he won’t withdraw from you until you get your act together, for Jesus said he would never leave you (John 14:16).
When you sin, the Holy Spirit will always point you to Jesus. He knows that as we behold the kindness and compassion of Christ, we become kind and compassionate ourselves. As we gaze at his forgiving face, we become forgiving. As we marvel at his beauty, we become beautiful. As we behold Jesus we are transformed into his shining testimonies of grace.
This makes the Holy Spirit happy.
Adapted from The Hyper-Grace Gospel, pp.33-35.