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October 21, 2019


Living in Sin

My Dear Friend,

     "Living in sin," as we used to call it for the past twenty centuries, has now become "living under grace." The old immorality has experienced a twenty-first century facelift and is masquerading as the new morality. Let me explain.

     Cohabitation - two people living together as man and wife without being married - has always been considered sin by saints and sinners alike.

     Our grandfathers' generation called it "living in sin" and disassociated with those practicing it out of respect for God's holiness and His sacred institution of marriage and hoping this discipline would convict and convince cohabiters to repent.

     Our fathers' generation, in the 1960s through 1980s, called it "shackin' up" and winked an eye, but made no fuss about it.

     But this generation has changed its mind about all this. A seismic amoral shift has occurred. Today many millennials are opting to try to reap the rewards of marital intimacy without accepting the responsibilities of a marriage covenant or risking the possibility of failure and the whole ugly, painful scenario we call divorce.

     Emotionally, we can empathize with them. Intellectually, we can see the logic of their position. But, spiritually, as biblical Christians, are we to accept this as the new norm? And pretend the Author of Scripture and Architect of Christianity is okay with it?

     For those interested in the biblical viewpoint, Jesus, Paul, and the writer to the Hebrews called cohabitation by its proper description, "fornication." And in love they warned of the unlovely end to which those practicing it were heading: "Marriage is honorable among all [peoples], and the [marriage] bed undefiled [or pure in God's sight]; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4). Or, one paraphrase adds, "God draws a firm line against casual or illicit sex" (The Message). I see at least three problems.

     First, many pastors who are very familiar with the biblical perspective are ignoring cohabiting couples in their congregations. Ministerial selfishness prompts this. They just don't want to deal with the uncomfortableness of talking to unwed couples about how their living situation is displeasing and dishonoring Christ - and risk them walking out.

     Second, many younger (and some older) pastors are now claiming it's not such a serious issue after all, because God's grace has (in their view) already taken care of it. There's is a "greasy grace," a permissive love that ignores the demands of God's holiness. These vendors of hypergrace claim all believers' sins - past, present, and future - are already automatically forgiven, without confession or repentance! So they call cohabitation "living under grace," and sleep on, as Samson did in Delilah's lap.

     Third, for these I see a wake-up call looming. One day, in His own way and time, and in His great and faithful love, our holy Father will intervene to show professing Christians living in sin that He hasn't bought into these new theologies and social mores floating around in our society today, that He is the same God He's always been, "yesterday, and today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). He has the same tender love we see in Jesus, yet also the same pure holiness and uncompromising righteousness Jesus taught. And it's time we get in line with his righteousness or prepare to face His disciplinary judgments. Two options are before us.

     First, if there's no change, we will see Samson-like scenarios - adversities, losses, and troubles visiting cohabiting Christians to show them their spiritual strength, and God's protection, is gone from them and the enemy is at the door to do them harm.

     Second, we may follow the example of the woman Jesus spoke with at Jacob's well (John 4). She had had several husbands and was presently living with a man who was not her husband. But when Jesus pointed this out, she surrendered in humble repentance, was converted to faith in Him, and helped lead her whole village of Sychar to faith in Him.

     If you're cohabiting, let me say kindly and affectionately but truly, get the message: fornication is not fine with God! It's not living under grace, it's laughing at grace! Don't tempt Him to prove this to you as Samson forced Him to prove it to him. Follow the wisdom of the woman at Jacob's well. The same Christ who ministered to her - and through her - is ready to minister to and through you. If you repent . . .

     So, get going. Get right. Get married! Or get new living quarters! Then live under grace.

Living under grace,

Greg Hinnant
Greg Hinnant Ministries

       Greg Hinnant Ministries
PO Box 788, High Point, NC 27261