It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (1 Cor 5:1-2)
A very, very common “slogan” found in the “happening” local churches of our day is this: “Imperfect people serving a Perfect God.” Pretty catchy, right? Feel it tug at your heart and warm your inner fuzzies? Well, those inner fuzzies are more accurately called the flesh. This motto is a perfect example of a biblically imperfect heresy. What? Let me show you why.
We know, if we carefully and regularly read God’s Word, that a typical quality found in the preaching of false teachers (the creeps who creep in among us according to Jude) is sensuality. Read 2 Peter or Jude and you will see it. The way they gather a large following (“many” will fall in with them says Peter) is to do what Paul calls “tickling itching ears.” That is to say, they preach a message which is all cloaked outwardly in “Bible,” but at its core it is worldly wisdom that is totally opposed to Christ’s truth. It is darkness. A shadow casting itself over the blinded eyes of the foolish who crave to hear a message that tingles their flesh. “Ohhhh, yeah, right there, that’s the spot. Feels so goooood.” We are imperfect people serving a perfect God.
The result? Not only are ears tickled and crowds swelled, but most every sort of evil is welcomed to the pews. If you don’t believe that, just talk to Christians who have been the targets of these evil ones. Domestic abusers, sexual abusers, pedophiles, revilers. Talk to the victims about how they were treated when they went to the church leaders for help and blew the whistle on their wicked oppressor. What happened? Almost every single time, what happened? The evil one was protected, excused, “loved and forgiven.” The victim? Chastised and even expelled from the church. Why?
You see the very same thing in the church at Corinth and Paul is taking them on for it in unmistakable terms. “What? Are you kidding me!!?? You have a man sitting in your midst showing off his disgusting and vile sin, defying God, and are you grieved about it? No! You are ARROGANT.”
What did Paul mean?
Here were these Corinthians who claimed to belong to Christ. But they had bought into a message pretty much like our contemporary jingle: We are imperfect people serving a perfect God. That is to say, and here is the heart of the heresy – the grace of God is magnified by our sin. Therefore as we continue to sin, God continues to forgive us and so WE embrace the very same “grace” toward one another. We forgive. No matter what. We are a sanctuary of non-judgmental “love.” And rooted in all of this jibberish is arrogance. Pride. Go online and check it out for yourself. You will see it on these “church’s” web pages. In their name. In their slogans and preaching. The result of it all is that evil is not only permitted in the lives of the people, it is boasted about in the lingo of twisted “grace.” The only real sin in such places is calling sin, “sin.”
Now, you may be asking yourself “but isn’t it true that Christians in this present life are imperfect? So why is it that the slogan is a heresy? Certainly God is perfect, right? Doesn’t that add up then to the phrase – imperfect people serving an imperfect God?
Do you know what happens when imperfect people stand before the perfectly holy God? They don’t. Dead in their sins they are cast out of His presence forever. God is holy, holy, holy and His eyes are too pure to even look on sin. Only the perfectly holy can be in His presence. The gospel is good news for us because – now hear this – Christians are indeed perfectly holy people! Because of Jesus Christ we are perfectly righteous, without guilt, seated in the heavenly places with Him right now! We were sinners. Now we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone. That is why the Bible calls us “saints.” Holy ones. The whole thrust of the New Testament is that we must be who we are.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)
So the slogan “sinners serving a sinless God” would actually be more in step with what the false teachers really are preaching, but to put it that way is too revealing. Why? Because the Bible does not call Christ’s people “sinners.” So they disguise what they really mean in this flowery language of “imperfection.” Sin is my fault. Imperfection is not. Don’t blame me. It’s how God made me.
And then this brings us down to the real essence of the evil in this ear-tickling heresy. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 2 –
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1)
That is to say, “imperfect people serving a perfect God” is a heresy that denies Jesus Christ. It denies His person and His work. It tramples under foot His blood shed for us at the cross. It says, you see, that His sacrifice for sin was unnecessary. After all, if imperfect people can meet the perfect God and thrive, then what is all the fuss? “The cross must have been misinterpreted by “stiff-collared” judgmental types all these centuries,” say the mega-church wannabes.
The glory and power of the cross, of the Son of God given for our sins, is that in him we become perfectly righteous, able to stand on that Day before the blazing glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, see Christ as He is in His ascended glory, and live.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
So the next time you hear “imperfect people serving a perfect God,” don’t be duped by its appeal. See it for what it is – another gospel, another spirit, another Jesus, pronounced anathema by the Lord.