Is all sin equal? Can you call out wickedness in someone else—or is that judging? And what does it really mean to “err on the side of grace”?
If you’ve heard some of these lines, and perhaps been silenced by them, this latest episode of The Roys Report is for you.
Joining me is Rebecca Davis, author of the Untwisting the Scriptures book series. And in this podcast we discuss her latest book in the series, addressing wolves in the church, hypocrisy, sin leveling, and righteousness.
Honestly, there couldn’t be a better time for this book. With all the abuse and corruption in the church, we need to know what the Bible really says.
So often Scripture is taken out of context. And it’s twisted by people with a vested interest in protecting themselves, or their prized institutions, to silence whistleblowers.
Rebecca does a masterful job of revealing why you, as a child of God, have a right to speak out — and why some sins are more egregious than others, especially when committed by leaders.
Your tax-deductible gift helps our journalists report the truth and hold Christian leaders and organizations accountable. Give a gift of $25 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of "Untwisting Scriptures: Wolves, Hypocrisy, Sin Leveling and Righteousness" by Rebecca Davis.
We are unable to ship books internationally.
Rebecca Davis is the author of over 20 books for children and adults, among them the Untwisting Scriptures series. Rebecca’s personal ministry includes serving as a spiritual coach through Immanuel prayer ministry while acting as a compassionate witness to people’s hard stories, helping those who are in or coming out of abuse, untwisting Scriptures that have been used to keep people in abusive situations, and offering hope through Jesus Christ. She writes about these things on her blog, https://heresthejoy.com and in her books, drawing from her more than 40 years of study of the Scriptures.
JULIE ROYS, REBECCA DAVIS
JULIE ROYS 00:04
Is all sin equal? Can you call out wickedness in someone else or is that judging? And what does it really mean to err on the side of grace? Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys, and if you’ve heard some of the lines that I just mentioned, and perhaps been silenced by them, you’re going to really benefit from today’s episode. Joining me is Rebecca Davis. And if that name sounds familiar to you, it may be because this is the fourth time I’ve had Rebecca on my podcast. She’s the author of The Untwisting the Scripture series of books. Other books dealt with untwisting the scriptures regarding patriarchy, emotions, and the notion of giving up your rights. And now Rebecca has a new addition to the series addressing wolves in sheep’s clothing, hypocrisy, sin leveling, and righteousness. And honestly, there couldn’t be a better time for this book. With all the abuse and corruption in the church, we really need to know what the Bible really says. So often, Scripture is taken out of context, and it’s twisted by people with a vested interest in protecting themselves or their prized institutions, to silence whistleblowers. And Rebecca does a masterful job of revealing why you, as a child of God, have a right to speak out. You don’t have to be perfect to point out sin, and that not all sin is equal. I can’t wait to unpack this super helpful book with Rebecca.
But first, I’d like to thank the sponsors of this podcast, Judson University and Marquardt of Barrington. Judson University is a top ranked Christian University providing a caring community and an excellent college experience. Plus, the school offers more than 60 majors, great leadership opportunities, and strong financial aid. Judson University is shaping lives that shape the world. For more information, just go to JUDSONU.EDU. Also, if you’re looking for a quality new or used car, I highly recommend my friends at Marquardt of Barrington. Marquardt is a Buick GMC dealership where you can expect honesty, integrity and transparency. That’s because the owners there, Dan and Curt Marquardt, are men of character. To check them out, just go to BUYACAR123.com.
Well again, joining me today is Rebecca Davis, an award-winning author of several books on sex abuse in the church. She’s also the author of a four-part series, Untwisting the Scriptures That Were Used to Tie You Up, Gag You, and Tangle Your Mind. Again, her latest book in this awesome series addresses wolves in the church, hypocrisy, sin leveling and righteousness. And I’m so excited to discuss this book with you, Rebecca. So welcome.
REBECCA DAVIS 02:41
Thank you so much, Julie, I really appreciate your having me on.
JULIE ROYS 02:45
Well, and I have to say I think this latest book, book four in your whole Untwisting the Scripture series, I think this is my favorite one. And maybe that’s just because of the space that I live in. I am among wolves half the time with my reporting. And I just man, this just hit on so many levels. I think things are relevant to so many of us who have faced abuse or abusers in the church or corruption, and you did an excellent job. So well done.
REBECCA DAVIS 03:16
Thank you. I was going to subtitle it Righteousness and Wickedness. So, then I got very specific with the topics. But that’s the basics of it. That’s how all the topics came together.
JULIE ROYS 03:26
Well, and it’s a fantastic book. And I should mention that we’re offering your book as a premium this month. So, if you give $25 or more to The Roys Report this month, we’ll send you a copy of Rebecca’s book, which we’re just so grateful to be able to do, and you gave us a great deal on it. So, we appreciate that.
REBECCA DAVIS 03:42
Glad to do that. Yes.
JULIE ROYS 03:44
So, I mean, it’s interesting, your book is broken up into four sections. And it’s sort of bookended by what I would say is like your identity in Christ and really understanding who you are. And I remember when I first saw that I’m like, does this really fit? And then as I read it, I began to see why you did that and why it’s so important. So let me just start there. You know, why was it important to you, to root this book, in a believers identity in Christ?
REBECCA DAVIS 04:17
I definitely want to start and end on the positive and it is so beautiful. It’s so beautiful, who we really are in Christ. But so much of the false teaching that’s gone on in the church has brought believers down to a level of being equated with the wicked, being equated with the wolves. And so, it was very important to me to show believers you are not equated with the wicked in the scriptures. You are not equated with the wolves in the scriptures. This is who you really are, as the scriptures have explained.
JULIE ROYS 04:54
One of the ways this is related and maybe a major way this is related to abuse in the church, and we’ll get into the sin leveling and all that. But there’s sort of just this well, we’re all just filthy, awful people. And so, if one person happens to be a little more filthy and awful than another, it’s no big deal. There’s not this expectation of righteousness, of beauty, of you know, the nobility of a human being created in God’s image.
REBECCA DAVIS 05:26
In this world, you don’t say that. You don’t say that person is just a little more filthy and awful than this person. You say everyone is equally filthy and awful. Except you, the one who comes to leaders with a complaint against someone, you’re obviously more filthy and awful than the person you’re coming with a complaint against, because you’re coming with a complaint that sort of defines you. So otherwise, if you don’t say anything, then we were just all equally sinful. Now, do they ever actually put this into words, the way I just did it so clearly? No. But everything they teach leads to that conclusion, their sin leveling as you said.
JULIE ROYS 06:10
Well, let’s go to the second part of your book, which again, deals with this idea of sin leveling. And I hear this all the time. It’s like every time I publish a story, say about a pastor who just committed adultery or something like that, then I’ll get well, all of us are sinners, who’s going to cast the first stone, you know? This idea that all of our sins are equally bad. And so, it shuts down the conversation. Like, we’re not even allowed to call out this pastor for what he did because we’re all guilty, right? Again, all of these sins are equal, what is wrong with that kind of thinking?
REBECCA DAVIS 06:50
It’s unbiblical, and it’s illogical. How about that?
JULIE ROYS 06:54
That’s, that’s great! We can just stop right there.
REBECCA DAVIS 06:58
So, I do go to the Scriptures, and look at various scriptures that people use to try to force sin leveling this concept of all sins are equal. That’s what sin literally means on us, and what those scriptures really mean. And then I look at other scriptures that clearly teach that sins are not equal. And also, I talk about how any justice system, that is actually just, will treat sins differently. There’ll be different punishments for different types of sins. And we are all sinners is used as an excuse-to-excuse egregious sin. We do things wrong; I do things wrong. Julie Roys does things wrong. But we are talking about hypocrisy, which is one of the things I focus on in the book. Obviously, it’s in the subtitle, and how doing something wrong and then coming back to the Lord to repent of it is different from doing something wrong and covering up and hiding and presenting yourself as a leader, a godly leader, and keeping your sin hidden and secret. I’ve written about that several times how there are different degrees of these things.
JULIE ROYS 08:16
So, the verse that I see pointed to a lot, or the passage, and I alluded to this already, is about casting the first stone with the woman caught in adultery. There’s also James 2:10, which says, whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in just one point is guilty of all of it. So, unpack that scripture for us.
REBECCA DAVIS 08:37
You know, it’s funny about the woman caught in adultery scripture. It’s when we’re exposing the sins of people who are like the Pharisees that people use the Scripture. It’s such a different context than what actually happened because Jesus did expose the sins of the Pharisees, and Jesus bowed down to the woman caught in adultery, which is what you are doing when you expose the sins of the Pharisees and what I do in my work, because I’m bowing down and listening to the people who have been sinned against in sexual ways or have sinned in sexual ways. And yet their sin has been covered up and hidden. And we are bowing down to them to listen to them, to listen to their stories, and then to expose the sins of the Pharisees. So that story is like exactly the opposite of what people are trying to accuse us of when they use that accusation.
JULIE ROYS 09:38
And James 2:10, by saying that we’re guilty of breaking all the law, that doesn’t negate the other parts of Scripture. Yes, we’re all guilty before Christ.
REBECCA DAVIS 09:49
We all need His forgiveness. We all need his salvation, all of us do. But that’s not saying that all sins are equal. That verse just doesn’t work for that.
JULIE ROYS 09:59
There actually is a distinction made in Scripture very clearly. I mean, obviously, throughout the whole Old Testament, there’s a whole litany of different punishments meted out, according to what you did and the severity of it. We come to the New Testament, and even in the New Testament in stories that Jesus told, there’s differences. You bring up Luke 12:47-48, the servant who knew the masters will, and didn’t get ready, will receive a worst beating than the one who didn’t know.
REBECCA DAVIS 10:32
So, it is clear that there are degrees of punishment, there are levels of punishment, which strongly implies that there are degrees or levels of sin.
JULIE ROYS 10:42
So, in your book, you also address this notion that Christians should embrace, and this is, you know, again, words of Paul, where he said, I’m the worst of all sinners, at least that’s how it’s translated in most of our Bibles. And I didn’t know this, maybe this because I’m really I never really listened to C.J. Mahaney. I just wasn’t running in those circles at the time that he was really prominent. But this is something that he would say all the time. And I hear it all the time. And it’s always really chafed against me. And so, I would really love for you to address this whole issue of, hey, we’re all just the worst of sinners. And that’s how we should we should view things and if we’re really pointing out other people’s sins, it’s actually just showing how self-righteous we are.
REBECCA DAVIS 11:32
Yes, and C.J. Mahaney popularized it, but it’s gone way beyond him. C.J. Mahaney was associated with the Sovereign Grace Ministries. And there was a huge child sexual abuse scandal in that group of churches that was dealt with in large part with that accusation. We are all the worst sinner we know. So how dare you bring an accusation against someone else? Because that means you think that you’re not as bad a sinner as them. And how dare you think that. So, what I did with that was I went to the passage in Timothy, Paul was writing to Timothy, when he said, God have mercy on sinners, of whom I am, and the NIV New International Version translates this, of whom I am the worst. So, people conclude Paul was the worst of sinners, Paul call himself the worst of sinners. So that means each of us must be the worst of sinners, to ourselves.
But then I went in this chapter, meticulously to look at the words the Greek words being used, and the Greek word there’s protos. And that Greek word means first, it doesn’t mean worst. And I looked at what, how it was used everywhere else in the New Testament, and sometimes it means first in time or space, which isn’t what it means here. Sometimes it means first in importance. And we can go back to the prodigal son for this one, because in the prodigal son story, the father said, bring the protos robe, and put it on him, which means the robe of primary importance, the best robe, the most important robe. And so, I make the case that Paul is saying, I am of primary importance. God had mercy on me as a sinner. He, through the death of Jesus Christ, had mercy on sinners, of whom I am of primary importance. And I said, why would Paul say that? Then I go on to say that Paul is making a case that he is an example a prototype for us. And I go through the rest of the passage to explain all that. And this is very true, that Paul was a prototype, because he was the first vicious, Christian killer that was brought to faith in Jesus Christ. His transformation was astounding. And it was unbelievable, literally unbelievable to the Christians at first. They needed to have some time to be convinced of it. So, he was saying, I’m a prototype of how great the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ can be. Which is very different from saying, I mean, it’s completely a different message from saying, I am the worst of sinners. And then I also talk about pronouns and how just because Paul said something doesn’t mean that we all are supposed to say the same thing. Paul was a prototype, we are not. So, we can study that and say, yes, Paul was a prototype for us of the salvation of Jesus Christ. And how amazing and marvelous it is, and how transforming it is. That’s it just a completely different message than the worst of sinners message.
JULIE ROYS 14:52
Well, and it’s interesting to me too, because Paul also sets himself up as an example elsewhere in Scripture and says Follow me as I follow Christ, right? So he’s setting himself up as a model, obviously, if he thought his primary identity was as the worst of sinners.
REBECCA DAVIS 15:08
Right, and I talked about that, yes.
JULIE ROYS 15:11
This is something and maybe this is because I grew up Armenian, which I’m not really Armenian anymore, although I don’t know that I fit all the theological categories of being a Calvinist either. But one of the things I love about the way that I grew up is that it was very much ingrained in me that we are called as Christians to do good works, which is scriptural. It’s like to be transformed so that we can be salt, so that we can be light, so that we make a difference. It’s not, I am called to be a Christian, so I can know how lousy I was as a sinner. Although I heard someone say once and I’m not going to say who because now, this pastor has been very much disgraced. But he used to say that I’m going to evangelize like an Armenian and worship like a Calvinist, you know? That the whole idea that, yes, we should have that appreciation; that deep, you know, like, I don’t deserve the grace of God. But at the same time, we should understand that we are called to make a difference and to look different. And I think when we get this mentality that we’re just the worst of sinners, then we don’t, I mean, you point this out, and I think it’s so good that we live in despair. And it’s like this idea of being righteous. It’s not even an expectation anymore.
REBECCA DAVIS 16:32
Yes, when I studied the book of Romans, and I’ve studied it several times, but I saw four responses that I realized made an acronym: hypocrisy, apathy, rebellion, or despair. Despair is just one of them. And I write for people who have been spiritually abused. Especially when people have been spiritually abused, despair is a huge part of the response. Like this is not what Jesus talked about. Can this be real? Is Christianity real? And of course, that means some people walk away. And that’s where my heart is. I want people to see who Jesus really is, what the Word of God really teaches so they won’t walk away. They’ll walk away from the hypocrites, but not from the real Jesus. That they’ll walk to the real Jesus and find him who he really is.
JULIE ROYS 17:20
And as you mentioned, one of the chief proponents of this was C.J. Mahaney, that became just a fertile ground, then for abuse in the church. And you write I think, this is so good. You say this will develop a perfect petri dish environment for breeding abusers with hardened consciences who can then take advantage of the ones with sensitive consciences. Unpack that a little bit how this idea that you’re the worst of sinners, leads to that kind of environment.
REBECCA DAVIS 17:52
it ends up being this ridiculous hypocrisy that they can stand up in front of, they can stand up at the podium, and on the platform and say, I’m the worst of sinners. But then when they are challenged about something that’s going on, either in their lives or under their watch, they won’t receive an accusation. And they will instead point the finger at the person bringing the accusation. So, an abuser, like let’s say a pedophile is looking for fertile territory, which happens all the time. They will look at an environment like that, and say, oh, I see, since they teach this worst of sinners thing. As long as I if I get caught, as long as I act like, I’m sorry, then I will get away scot free. And the person making the accusation, who is still wanting me to be held accountable, will be the one who’s accused of not forgiving and you know, bitterness and all the things.
JULIE ROYS 18:55
And that is what happened in this particular case. I mean, you talk to witnesses, and they say, Yeah, CJ, when he was confronted, was very prideful about it, and did not own it and still hasn’t owned it. And really, the Christian community hasn’t really dealt with sovereign grace at all. I mean, it’s just been really sad.
REBECCA DAVIS 19:15
Some people have tried to certainly but that’s an unfinished story.
JULIE ROYS 19:20
It is an unfinished story and kudos to those who have uncovered it like Brent Detweiler, Rachel Den Hollander. A lot of people have written extensively on it.
You bring up another thing that we hear an awful lot of because we’re talking about hypocrisy, but people will say, well, we’re all hypocrites, right? I mean, none of us live up to our own standard of righteousness. Just being a Christian means that you’re a hypocrite because you have to admit that you’re a moral failure, right? And in particular, you talk about an article that was written by David Baker in 2018, addressing at that point, Bill Hybels’ sex abuse scandal that came out with him. And he wrote this article on hypocrisy and Bill Hybels. And it was absolutely awful. And I will let you unpack why it was so off.
REBECCA DAVIS 20:12
Well, I think if I remember correctly around that time, 2018, I was wanting to address the we’re all hypocrites, topic. And then it’s like he handed it to me on a silver platter.
JULIE ROYS 20:24
It’s this slow pitch, and you’re just all keyed up to hit.
REBECCA DAVIS 20:28
I was so ready, I thought, oh, this is perfect. So, what I did, and I believe I had five points, but I don’t have them in front of me. I could look them up. But maybe it’s in front of you.
JULIE ROYS 20:39
This is why you have to buy the book; we’re not going to unpack the whole thing. We don’t have time for all that.
REBECCA DAVIS 20:43
But I did. What I did was I said, let’s look at what Jesus said about hypocrites. Because Jesus had a lot to say about hypocrites. And he laid it out. So, I said hypocrites are bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, five things. And it was, I was using the Scriptures where Jesus is addressing the Pharisees, and the scribes, the scribes, Pharisees, the lawyers, so forth, that that group of people. And I kept saying, if this describes you, then you are a hypocrite. So, it’s not to say there aren’t any hypocrites, or it’s not to say, well, if you’re reading Untwisting Scriptures, you get away scot free. But to say, this is what describes a hypocrite. And so, let’s take that application and see if it fits us. Be honest before God, but not just to say every one of us is a hypocrite. If I tell my children not to do something that I then do, then maybe I’m, I’m committing some sort of hypocrisy there. But let’s analyze what living in hypocrisy means, as opposed to doing something that we shouldn’t do, and then being sorry about it. This is very similar to the sinner and saint thing we were talking about a few minutes ago. Jesus was calling them hypocrites. If we’re all hypocrites, then we are in big trouble, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t have any power. But we don’t have to live that way. That’s a big part of what I emphasize, we do not have to be that.
JULIE ROYS 22:17
isn’t a lot of it. And you do outline several qualities. But one is that we think that the rules that apply to other people, we don’t equally apply them to ourselves. And that really gets into your next chapter, which is on the plank in our own eye. Because what Matthew 7 says, it talks about you don’t take the log out of your own eye, right? But take the speck out of your brother’s eye, but you don’t apply the same standard to you that you apply to him; you do the very things you accuse him of doing. And so here we have Christian leaders, it seems to me who are doing worse things than often those that they’re calling out and justifying it. I mean, that is, is it not, like the definition of hypocrite?
REBECCA DAVIS 23:04
Yes. Or keeping it a secret. I mean, sometimes they’re justifying it like it’s when the financial things like the preachers and sneakers, things of how they dress on stage. They justify it. But when it’s stuff like adultery, then they just hide it. They don’t try to justify that. Not yet anyway, that I’ve heard of, but it is very similar.
I have heard so many stories from people who’ve been trafficked, for example, to pastors or they know people who’ve been trafficked to pastors, that these will often be pastors who preached so hard against homosexuality and against teenage fornication, and then they themselves are committing pornography issues and going to trial prostitutes and things like that. I mean, just really terrible things. So, they are living as hypocrites on purpose.
JULIE ROYS 23:58
Well, one of the things I like that you do in your book is that you give excerpts from, say, letters or emails that you’ve received from people who have had some of these tactics used against them. And for example, when it comes to this issue of taking the log out of your own eye, the plank out of your own eye, an abused wife, for example, writes, I was told for a very long time by many fellow Christians, that all sin is equal, and my sin in the marriage was no different from his. And I was always told to remove the proverbial plank from my own eye, and never worry about the speck in his eye.
REBECCA DAVIS 24:41
Yeah, it’s terrible. And that’s one more example of sin leveling. And so, I do go to that scripture and talk about what did Jesus mean, who was he talking to? What was going on? So, in that chapter, I don’t shy away from the Scripture. I don’t say, well, Jesus said that but we’re going to ignore it. I actually want to go to the Scripture, what was he talking about? What did he mean? Who was his audience? And unfold it, and also compare it to other scriptures. One of the things that I’m teaching in this book, that’s been a passion of mine for many years, because it just opened up so much understanding for me, was the understanding about pronouns and the audience. Who is the audience that’s being written to when the Scriptures say, You, like the epistles of Paul? Or the Gospels, when they’re saying you or when they’re saying me? We? Does it always mean the reader? No, it doesn’t always mean the reader. Let’s look at who the audience is, and then analyze, do you fit in that audience or not?
JULIE ROYS 25:51
Right. And what I think you just explained so well in your book is that it’s often the victims of these hypocrites, who have the sensitive conscience. And so that’s why these sorts of manipulative arguments work so well, is because so often it’s the victim, who has that soft heart.
REBECCA DAVIS 26:19
Yeah, so I’ve written elsewhere about the conscience. It hasn’t gone into a book yet, maybe it will eventually. But the seared conscience, the pure conscience, that there are several different descriptives for the word for the concept of the conscience in the New Testament. And I’ve dug into that. And I remember using Mark Driscoll as my vehicle for one of the discussions about conscience.
JULIE ROYS 26:48
Seared conscience, perhaps?
REBECCA DAVIS 26:51
Yes. And also, just what is it? What does it mean? Because this is what I see. The people with the seared consciences who can so easily describe themselves as the worst of sinners, or, or, you know, I’m such a hypocrite. They easily do that, get the accolades for being so humble, and then they can point the finger at the people with a sensitive conscience. And that’s, you know, kind of gaslighting when they do things like that.
JULIE ROYS 27:22
The third section of your book talks about how to kind of make sense of all of this wickedness and the wolves in the church. And, it’s been hard, it’s been hard for me, it’s been hard for I’m sure a lot of the people listening who have been victims of abuse from the people that they least expected to abuse them. It’s just extraordinarily painful and difficult. How do we make sense of all of these wolves in the church? Pastors? Christian leaders?
REBECCA DAVIS 27:58
A reader wrote me this question, is this, when Jesus talked about wolves in the church, and some other people talked about it, Paul? Are they saying that it’s a common occurrence? And I said, well, let’s look at the Scriptures. And I looked at Ezekiel and the Gospels, and where Paul talked about it to the Ephesian church. And I concluded, I believe it is a common occurrence now. Part of that is because people have been so gullible and not on guard, because he says they’re going to come. But people have not been on guard and have not understood, have not, I guess, have not believed, when Jesus said wolves are going to come or they think, well, it’s over there, it’s over there. Instead of saying, it’s in our midst. And it is incredibly well disguised. The wolves are so well disguised. It’s paradigm shaking. When I first learned about it, I was really laid flat. And I actually give a very personal, I tell a very personal story in the book, as one of my chapters, about how laid flat I was learning about all this. So, I had to come to the Lord over and over and over about this because it felt like it was going to, none of it was my own personal experience, because this is not my personal experience. It’s the stories I’ve heard from others, and I just felt like it was going to completely overwhelm me, and I wouldn’t survive. But the Lord brought me through it and taught me through it and strengthened me through it. And I was able to come to a place of solid ground on the solid rock, of Jesus Christ, to be able to proclaim the truth about it and stand in it.
JULIE ROYS 29:54
Well, and in talking to sex abuse victims, especially those who have been abused by Christian leaders. Talking to Lori Anne Thompson. I remember that. I mean, I was it was just emotionally devastating. Yes, it is. It’s so hard to hear that or other victims who maybe weren’t victimized by Christians, but then when they reported it, like at Liberty University, the things that happened to the victims that I’ve talked to. I mean, it’s just so hard that people who claim Christ could treat a victim that way. And yet, you’re absolutely right. I mean, you talk about this, Ezekiel talked about these priests that were not who they were supposed to be. That they were actually feeding on the sheep instead of protecting the sheep. Yeah. And I think of Hophni and Phineas, who are Eli sons, right? And they were supposed to be the priests who were standing between man and God, and were, you know, representing him. And instead, they stood there, and would rip people off who came to bring their gifts. They would abuse those who came.
REBECCA DAVIS 31:01
They were abusing the women.
JULIE ROYS 31:03
Exactly. They absolutely were, and there was judgment for that. But that’s, I mean, that’s in the Old Testament. Then we come to the New Testament, and we were warned by Jesus about the wolves in sheep’s clothing. We see it all throughout Scripture, we know that the human heart is wicked.
REBECCA DAVIS 31:20
And I’ve written about this before. I think it was in book number three, where I talk about Jeremiah 17:9. Is that the reference for that the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked who can know it? And I make the case, I hope, compellingly that this is not talking about the heart of born again, children of God. It’s talking about the unredeemed heart. And it is so much and a bridge too far for so many people to wrap their minds around the thought that someone who has proclaimed the Word of God with such power with what they would have thought was such spirit anointing, and people have come to the Lord under their ministry, that that person is really serving the devil in some fashion.
JULIE ROYS 32:15
But they’re not actually Christians.
REBECCA DAVIS 32:16
They’re not actually a born again, Child of God. There’s so much cognitive dissonance with that, that you feel like your head is going to explode. And I know because I’ve been there. And some of the people that I looked up to so greatly and John MacArthur would be one, because years ago in the 1980s, one of his books was very helpful to me. And I don’t even know now if he wrote it, maybe somebody else wrote it.
JULIE ROYS 32:44
That could be. Yes, yeah. Many ghostwriters.
REBECCA DAVIS 32:49
But to wrap your mind around that, and to come to terms with that, it’s critically important. I believe it is so important for anybody who wants to live and walk in integrity. But it’s hard. It’s very, very hard. And when I’ve given my testimony about this before, which I’ve written about a few times, I’ve said I would rather walk in a difficult truth than embrace a comfortable lie. That’s what I chose. And I hope and pray when I write, I hope and pray that many, many will choose a difficult truth over a comfortable lie. That they will be that they will want to walk in truth, even if it is very, very hard.
JULIE ROYS 33:32
A common admonition that we hear from Christian leaders when somebody comes out and they admit some sort of sin or they’re caught in their sin, or say, to bring it to the current events right now, Matt Chandler getting up and admitting that he had had an inappropriate online relationship. So, there was a tearful Matt Chandler, who came out and made a statement. One of the things that we’ll often hear in the midst of this, as we’re trying to process what to make of this, and really trying to be fair, but also discerning. But we’re told that we need to err on the side of grace. Obviously, grace, hugely important to a believer. We’re saved by grace, right? We want to extend grace. We want to be gracious people. But that admonition at this time, is that helpful? And if so, what does it really mean?
REBECCA DAVIS 34:32
All right. So that’s one of the chapters. It’s called Don’t Err on the Side of Grace.
JULIE ROYS 34:36
See, you sound so judgmental. No, I’m kidding.
REBECCA DAVIS 34:40
Yeah, that’s me. This was another teaching of the Sovereign Grace Churches. I don’t think I mentioned that in that chapter. But anybody who came out of the Sovereign Grace world will definitely recognize that as a Sovereign Grace teaching. And I’m sure many other churches have taught it too because it sounds so good. They talk about how we need to err on the side of grace. If we’re going to make a mistake in our judgment, let’s make a mistake being kind, and sweet and gentle rather than being judgmental and harsh. Except I say, I think really what that’s talking about is let’s err on the side of being gullible, rather than erring on the side of being cynical.
Of course, as you can imagine, if you haven’t read the chapter yet, that I’m going to talk about how, what good deceivers, many abusers are. They’re very, very good at looking like they would never do such a thing, or it’s the victim who’s crazy for sure, see how she’s crying? It’s obvious she’s crazy. Or how very, very sorry they are, when irrefutable evidence is brought forward. How very, very sorry, they are, and oh, now I understand how bad that was. And I will never do that again.
So the desire is to err on the side of believing the person, believing the alleged abuser. And this was the chapter that brought the most emotional response to my early readers because I send out the book to some early readers to get responses from them. And I included several of their responses in that chapter that they were saying, so this, this, I’ve experienced this issue of erring on the side of grace, but it’s always for the abuser. It’s never for me, it’s never for the victim. It’s always for the abuser. What’s that about? And then I explain grace isn’t even what they’re talking about, biblically. That the way they use the term grace, it’s like kindness or giving the benefit of the doubt. But that isn’t what biblical grace is. Biblical grace is the transforming love of God, coming into our lives, to transform us by the power of the Holy Spirit, to live lives that are gracious and good before God and before man. Lives that are flowing out with love, and discernment and wisdom. All of these things that are the fruit of the Spirit that God talks about. That’s what grace is. His transforming power.
So then I detail a few things that what is grace going to look like in the life of a believer? What will grace look like and go through some of that. But it’s not going to look like being gullible. Because we are warned, we are warned to watch out. And so, we need to be wise, we need to be discerning. We do not need to be gullible. And I talk about being wise as serpents and harmless or innocent as doves that’s talking about living the lives of purity. But being wise as serpents talking about living lives of discernment. We want to live lives of purity and discernment at the same time, which is very possible, and not being gullible and not being cynical. People can lean toward one or another, but they need to be aware of those two possibilities and not go to either one.
JULIE ROYS 38:11
Actually, holding somebody accountable can be a grace for them, right? And I’ve heard this said about James MacDonald, for example. Former elders saying we gave him grace upon grace upon grace. And really, when they’re talking about those graces, it’s like we asked him to get help. We asked him to repent, we call them on account on these things. Obviously, there wasn’t enough of that done. I don’t think a lot of the elders knew what was going on. But again, that discernment is so important, and it can be a grace, and you point out, you know, you quote II Timothy 3:12-13. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. And I love that word imposter there is used in the translation. I know we’ve talked about hypocrites, the actual word for hypocrite, the Greek word, is actually a word that means actor. So, we’ve got deceivers, we’ve got actors and, and there are scriptures, a lot of scriptures that talk about and you point out testing the spirit, right? Talk about discernment. We’re not to be gullible. For example, when we’re looking at, I mean, I’m just thinking about this because it’s what just happened, you know, with Matt Chandler. It’s like, going through the history of things that have happened over the years. Has there been the fruit of repentance, which isn’t that we’re sorry. It’s not whether we feel bad for it. The fruit of repentance is a changed life, is changed action. Are we seeing change over time that when we say we’re sorry for something, that there’s a difference in the way that we live? All of us screw up. But is there a difference?
REBECCA DAVIS 39:59
Yes. In this book I do talk about that word repentance and how the Greek word metanoia used in the New Testament is really about a change of mind that results in a change of life. It actually involves changing direction. And I talk a lot about what that actually looks like. It’s not so much about tears. In fact, it’s not really at all about tears. It’s about the total transformation of the mind and heart so that the life looks different.
JULIE ROYS 40:31
I love that, when you talked about metanoia, because when we think of repentance, we do think of sorrow, and you have to be sorry over your sin to repent. There’s no doubt that that’s there. But there’s also that almost a positive calling to a new way of living.
REBECCA DAVIS 40:45
Absolutely. It’s a positive calling, looking forward, rather than back. Looking back definitely needs to happen, but it’s primarily about looking forward.
JULIE ROYS 40:55
And as we said, all of your book, again, it’s bookended in who we are in Christ, is bookended in really what our view of sin is and of the Christian life is, and I really appreciate that because I do think our theology, and I don’t talk a lot about theology, a lot of people want me to, like, call out bad theology. I’m not a discernment blogger, I don’t do that. But at the same time, I do think our theology is really, really important.
REBECCA DAVIS 41:23
JULIE ROYS 41:24
And we can’t cover everything, you know, for time that’s in the last section of this book, but you come back to C.J. Mahaney and, you know, this reformed gospel centered movement, which has some positive aspects to it. But I’ll just say, C.J Mahaney, Mark Driscoll, Acts 29, John MacArthur, a lot of them are in sort of, in this reformed camp. You can find abusers in practically every denomination there is, but I do think there is, as you call it, the miserable cycle. An overemphasis or a wrong emphasis can sometimes give. So, talk about that if you would just unpack that miserable cycle and how it’s kind of tied to some of this community, which I’ve heard from some reformed folks who say, well, that’s not even proper Reformed theology. So, I’ll let you address that.
REBECCA DAVIS 42:27
You’re talking about the last chapter; it’s called Look to the Cross More: A Response of the Gospel Centered Movement. And then I work off of a letter that someone sent me about it, and she did refer to the reformed or gospel centered movement. And so, I did some research on the gospel centered movement. And I thought something really core is being missed here. So, the steps are looking at our sin and feeling miserable over it, then looking to the cross and feeling thankful for what Jesus did. And then being motivated by that gratitude, to go out and do good works for the Lord. And then I say, the cycle continues in a miserable way, because then you start thinking, this motivation is, is motivation of the flesh, because the Holy Spirit isn’t at work in this picture in this cycle, and then I start feeling unsatisfied, or like, I’m worn out, and then I start feeling disgusted with myself. And then I can see what a sinner I am. And then I look to the cross more. And I’m thankful for my forgiveness. And it just keeps on going like that. It’s like you can’t ever get out of the rut. You can’t ever get off that hamster wheel. And so, I take that, and unpack it with the gospel that Jesus presents, and show what it really should be. And I wanted to end the book with that one, because what it really is, is so beautiful. And it was so encouraging to me to consider what’s really going on when we live a life that isn’t just about looking to the cross more and being thankful for forgiveness, but it’s actually living in the power of the resurrection. Which for some reason, doesn’t get talked about enough. That the power of the resurrection is the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ in me, the hope of glory. And when I live in that power, then I’m living a life that is energized from within. There’s an engine inside. I’m not pushing and pushing and pushing. I’ve got the internal engine, which is the Holy Spirit, to move forward in the grace of Jesus Christ.
JULIE ROYS 44:48
And as you so beautifully unpacked, Scripture is so full, and Romans is so full of declarations of freedom from sin, of not being under condemnation. And yet so often, sadly, as Christians, we live in that. But that is not, that is not the normative Christian life to be to be living in that.
REBECCA DAVIS 45:11
And people with sensitive consciences especially this is a lot of who I write to. They can feel like, if I don’t stay in that place of condemnation, and they wouldn’t use that word, but that is what it is, then I’m going to become proud. I want to help them understand you can actually get out from under that dark cloud of condemnation without being proud. You can actually live and walk and move and act in the power of the Holy Spirit, and still recognize that that’s where your power is coming from. You can still live in his strength in his power. So, it is a beautiful thing. The Gospel means good news, and the good news of Jesus Christ is actually very beautiful and wonderful and empowering.
JULIE ROYS 46:00
Well, and I appreciate that about so much of your book, even though you’re dealing with heavy topics, heavy things, the hope that’s in it, the calling to your freedom to a better life in Christ, while dealing with again, things that we sadly are dealing with in the church, which is these wolves, the hypocrisy. But there is a calling to righteousness, there is a calling to regeneration. And I hope it not just for us individually, I hope and pray for that for the church. That we can see some regeneration, some life coming out of what appears to be right now just a lot of devastation.
REBECCA DAVIS 46:40
Yes, that is my prayer. So much darkness and devastation, but the Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of his people. And it is my privilege to participate in that. And it’s my privilege to partner with you in it.
JULIE ROYS 46:56
Well, and I feel the same way. It is a privilege to work with you. And again, thank you so much for writing this book. And thanks for taking the time. Just really appreciate it.
REBECCA DAVIS 47:05
Thank you so much for having me, Julie. I really appreciate it.
JULIE ROYS 47:08
And thanks so much for listening to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And just a reminder that we’re offering Rebecca’s latest book on Untwisting the scriptures as a premium for donors to The Roys Report. If you’d like to support our work and get a copy of Rebecca’s book, just go to JULIEROYS.COM/DONATE. Also, just a quick reminder to subscribe to The Roys Report on Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify or YouTube. That way you’ll never miss an episode. And while you’re at it, I’d really appreciate it if you’d help us spread the word about this podcast by leaving a review. And then please share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about this great content. Again, thanks so much for joining me today. I hope you were blessed and encouraged.