False cheap grace compared to true costly grace - Will the true grace message please stand up?


Today we are hearing so many confusing messages about salvation by grace and salvation by 'grace alone.' Many people are confused since countless religious teachers seem to imply that the only thing men need to do is 'believe' and then 'presto' all their sins, including any future sins, have been automatically covered by God's grace. They use a few 'proof-texts' of scripture to try and prove this belief. 

This sounds very simple, but to a person who thinks logically and has an earnest desire to know the fullness of truth, this just does not make one bit of sense and does not line up with the complete true teachings of God's Word. If the only thing a person needed to do was 'believe' in order to be 'saved by grace' then even the demons would be saved for the Bible teaches that even the demons believe greatly in God and even tremble. (James 2:19)  "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder."

We need to be very careful since people are distorting God's wondrous amazing grace into a mere cheap covering for continued sin. People who teach this cheap 'grace alone' message have no desire to work out their salvation with fear and trembling as the Bible teaches that we must do, but rather they are seeking ways to justify sin in the name of grace which perverts and cheapens God's wondrous grace. 


There are two different grace messages that have always been taught from early times to today. 

1. The False or Cheap Grace Message:

This is the 'grace message' that is warned about in Jude verses 3-4 and is any message that perverts God's grace to allow for continued sin in one's life without the fear of consequences. This message is similar to the lie that the serpent told Eve in the Garden of Eden as he deceptively convinced her that disobedience to God's commands would cause no harm. 

"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ."

2. The True or Costly Grace Message:

This is the grace message that is clearly taught about in Titus 2:11-14, and teaches that true grace brings about a true follower of the Lord. It is a grace message that causes men to pick up their crosses to follow Jesus each day and live and die for Him.

"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."

I. False or Cheap Grace:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1916-1945) was a man who was deeply concerned about the 'cheap grace' message which was being taught in his day since it was killing the 'costly grace' message that is taught about in God's Holy Word. The same cheap grace message or 'grace alone' message is being taught in our day stronger than ever as well and is destroying the true message of grace taught in the Bible. The following are some wise words that Dietrich Bonhoeffer shared about concerning 'cheap grace' from his book "The Cost of Discipleship."

“Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church.  We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace is grace without price; grace without cost!  The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing.

In churches that teach this grace, the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace, therefore, amounts to a denial of the living Word of God. Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. Well, then, let the Christian live like the rest of the world, let him model himself on the world's standards in every sphere of life, and not presumptuously aspire to live a different life under grace from his old life under sin. 

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

It is clear that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was deeply burdened by the multitudes who turned God's amazing grace into a license to sin as warned about in Jude 3,4.  The bottom line is that false or cheap grace teachers deceptively teach that we can be covered by God's grace as we continue to sin and not truly follow the Lord. Such teachers teach false doctrines such as 'Carnal Christians', and that we can be drunkards, adulterers, deceivers, etc. and still be a child of God. In other words, their teachings convey that a true believer's life is really not much different than before they were saved. The only real difference is that they think that because they made a 'confession' that they now 'believe' in God and now believe that His 'grace covers their sins' and therefore they are now somehow magically 'chosen' despite the fact that their life is basically the same as it ever was. 


Please do not fall for this deceptive lie. We must remember that those who wish to continue to look for excuses to sin and still be 'saved' are spoken about in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-13 which tells us: “...because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

II. True or Costly Grace:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer also wrote about the opposite of cheap grace, and called it 'costly grace.' He said costly grace was the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of great price and is the call of Jesus at which the disciple leaves his nets and leaves all behind to follow Him. Bonhoeffer also wrote the following wise words about costly grace:

“Costly grace is the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and is grace because it gives a man the only true life.  It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.  Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. 

Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs. It is, therefore, the living word, the Word of God, which he speaks as it pleases him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus. It comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and contrite heart.  Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow Him.”

These words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer fall in line with the true grace message taught in the Bible as revealed in Titus 2:11-14 which tells us: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” 

The above verses give us the true definition of grace and do not teach that grace is a covering for unholy type living. Instead, these verses teach that the gift of grace is the divine influence of God that leads us into holy living day by day after we sincerely and humbly repent by turning from all past ungodliness and worldly lusts. Those under God's grace have turned away from self in order to follow Christ and walk in His righteousness.

Also if we look at the end of the book of 1 Peter he tells us what true grace is. 1 Peter 5:12 tells us “I have written to you briefly encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.” Here Peter is stating that his epistle as a whole teaches about the true grace of God and this epistle should be closely examined if we wish to understand true grace.


Here are some of the messages that Peter wrote about the true grace of God that we need to stand fast in:

1. True grace teaches self-control. (1:13)

2. True grace teaches obedience and does not conform to the evil desires we had before we were saved. (1:14)

3. True grace teaches us to be holy in all we do. (1:15-16)

4. True grace teaches us to live as strangers here in reverent fear. (1:17)

5. True grace teaches us purity, obeying truth, and true love for others from the heart (1:22)

6. True grace teaches to rid ourselves of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and evil speaking of every kind and to crave spiritual milk. (2:1,2)

7. True grace teaches to abstain from sinful desires that war against the soul. (2:11)

8. True grace teaches to have honorable conduct so that even if men might speak of us as evildoers when they see our deeds they will glorify God. (2:12)

9. True grace teaches to submit to authority and not revile. (2:13 and 18-23)

10. True grace teaches to do good. (2:15)

11. True grace teaches to die to sin and live for righteousness. (2:24)

12. True grace teaches chaste and honorable conduct. (3:1-7)

13. True grace teaches living in harmony and being compassionate, loving, and humble toward others. (3:8)

14. True grace teaches not to return evil for evil or insult for insult but rather the opposite. (3:9) 

15. True grace teaches to not speak evil or deceit. (3:10)

16. True grace teaches to turn from evil and do good and to seek peace and pursue it (3:11)

17. True grace teaches to answer people with gentleness, kindness, and respect and to keep a clear conscience. (3:15-16)

18. True grace teaches that we are not to live our lives for sin or evil desires but rather to the will of God. (4:2-5)

19.True grace teaches to have fervent love. (4:8)

20. True grace teaches us to show hospitality and to use our own unique gifts to minister to others. (4:9-11)

21.True grace teaches to have joy in the fact that we participate in the sufferings of Christ. (4:13-14)

22. True grace teaches to clothe ourselves in humility. (5:5)

23. True grace teaches to be self-controlled, vigilant, and alert to resist the devil who seeks to devour us and to resist him by standing firm in the faith. (5:8-9)


This is not adding 'works to grace' or 'legalism', for if it were then Peter would be in error for writing all this and saying that this was the "true grace of God in which Christians were to stand fast." We are not saved by works such as going to church, religious rituals, doing good deeds etc. as Ephesians 2:9 tells us for all of our works alone could never save us and every single last one of us could never have been saved apart from the gracious sacrifice of Jesus' work on the cross to pay for our wretched sins.  But we must remember that as Ephesians 2:10 tells us, that true Christians once truly saved, will walk in good works such as those works described in the book of 1 Peter because they are living to truly follow Christ and have submitted fully to Him. True believers have crucified the old man that walked after the flesh and walk in the new man that follows after the Spirit.

So as we see, the true grace message taught in scripture is vastly different than the false grace message taught by many theologians from the time of Augustine to our day who basically teach that grace is merely a covering for unholy type living. 

In fact the Bible teaches that those who were once sanctified yet deliberately return to indulge in a sin actually insult the Spirit of grace that once saved them and actually 'trample' on Jesus' sacrifice that was meant to pay for their sins, and that unless they sincerely repent from the heart God will have vengeance on these come Judgment Day. (Hebrews 10:26-31)


We must not get deceived by the empty words of men who cunningly justify sin in the name of grace. When one of these people tries to deceive us with such falseness, we need to immediately point to them such scripture as Galatians 6:7-8, Galatians 5:16-21, Ephesians 5:3-7, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Romans 1:29-32, Revelation 21:8 etc. which tells us clearly that those who engage in or return to sin are separated from God unless they sincerely repent.  All of these scriptures are very convicting and firmly teach for us not to be deceived, for those who justify sin in their lives will not inherit the Kingdom of God. God will say to these come Judgment Day "Be gone from me you workers of iniquity!" (Matt. 7:22-23) Only those who sincerely continue to follow Jesus will inherit the Kingdom. 


The true grace message has stood up!

From all of this, we can see that God's grace is not some sort of mere covering that covers up ongoing sin as false grace teachers deceptively teach. Rather, the gift of true grace is the divine influence of God that teaches us to sincerely and humbly repent of past evil ways and to turn to walk as true children of God by following Jesus and walk in His righteousness and truths. Grace is the divine influence that teaches us to live holy, loving, godly lives day by day and to resist sinful and worldly lusts as we walk in the Spirit. Only these have their sins covered by the blood of Jesus and will continue to be justified if they continue to follow Him as they walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.

We have the God given choice to follow His gracious influence or to reject it. To continue to follow it means that we are in God's favor and will be justified and will be cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, for this straight and narrow road leads to a peaceful life everlasting. However, if we one day choose to give up following the Lord and return to ignoring His gracious influence and choosing to go our own way, this way separates us from God and leads to the path of destruction. (This is clearly outlined in great detail throughout the entire chapter of Ezekiel 18 as well as many other areas of scripture.) 


Last of all I think it is important that I address that this article is not really teaching the concept of 'sinless perfection.'  1 John 5:16-17 tells us "If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and God will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. All unrighteousness is a sin, and there is sin not leading to death."  As we can see from this scripture, there are different types of sin that the brethren/saved could commit and some lead to death (separation from God) while others do not lead to death. Types of sin that don't lead to death would include such things as having an impatient moment or having an unkind thought. The previously mentioned verses tell us that we do need to ask God forgiveness/confess such sins and the Lord will continue to give us life and forgive us.  We also need to confess them right away because we want to stop them immediately so that they won't lead to deeper darker sins that could separate us from God. Also, the brethren do have the potential, if they are not carefully working out their salvation with fear and trembling, to commit a sin that leads to death (separation from God.) These types of sins separate us from God unless they are deeply and sincerely repented of with the true desire to never commit them again. Such sins are listed in scripture such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Revelation 21:8, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:5-7 etc. These verses are very convicting and teach us not to be deceived, for those who partake in these sins will not inherit the Kingdom of God.


If we seek to justify sin in our lives, we have not truly been born of God and have not been influenced by God's grace that leads to a life of sincerely following Jesus to the end of our lives, but rather we have been influenced by a strong delusion. We must be very careful and vigilant in our day of rampant false teachings not to be deceived by the false grace message of Jude 3,4, but to only heed the true grace message as taught in Titus 2:11-14, the book of 1 Peter, and throughout the rest of Holy Scripture.

"Jesus didn't just die so that our sins would be covered, past present, and future. Jesus died so that our sins would be eradicated, for the past, present, and future. Jesus died so that we would be free, no longer slaves to sin." ~Will Rauser

"We're only committing spiritual whoredom when we disobey the Lord. As long as we walk with Jesus we are "chaste virgins." ~Roy Thibodeau


"Can you see the difference?

All sin is a perversion of God's intended purposes and ways.... So those of you who like to excuse sin by saying "Nobody is perfect"... "We're only human"... or "I'm just a sinner saved by grace." Perhaps it would help you see the error of your ways if you would shout to the world, "I'm a PERVERT saved by grace!"

God wants you to humbly say, "I 'was' a pervert but 'now' I am saved by grace... A grace that instructs me to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age."

See the difference? One is life and the other is death."  ~John Moore

God's Grace Enables Me

by: Janet Mullaly

I know it's the Spirit
Who's at work within me
'Cause I can't do these things
by myself.
I have tried and I've tried
But it's always the same
On my own
Everything is a mess.

I give praise to my Lord
I give praise to my King
I give glory and honor 
To God,
For it's Him and not me
This I clearly do see
It's His Grace
That enables me.


Article was written by F. A. Butler

Keep standing firm on God's truths,

SeriousForTruth Ministry