Do We Get “3 Free Sins”?

July 6, 2018

Categories: Grace

I finished reading an interesting book called “3 Free Sins” by Steve Brown, and I’m curious to hear your thoughts about it. The basic idea of the book is that Christians are usually focused on “getting better.” We get obsessive about not sinning, improving our lifestyle, and making better choices. The problem, Brown argues, is that we aren’t getting much better. And it’s exhausting.

Brown also argues that getting better isn’t even the point. The point of Christianity and the Gospel is that Jesus loves us irrespective of what we do and whether or not we are getting better. That’s the main point.

Struggling with Grace

The book connected with a lot of my struggles with grace. Sometimes I think God loves and accepts me, but only as long as I’m getting better (or at least trying really hard to get better). The focus on always needing to be better (and not being satisfied with where I am at right now) robs me of a lot of joy and peace.

So if getting better isn’t the answer, what is? Steve Brown says “3 Free Sins.”

3 Free Sins

I’m not sure Brown would actually encourage us to sin, but he definitely would encourage us to shift our focus from (1) getting better to (2) Jesus, grace, and the fact that God loves us no matter what. We might get better, or we might not. But that’s not the point.

Jesus and 3 Free Sins

I do find it interesting that when I read about the life of Jesus, he wasn’t very angry with the sinners. Even when they killed him, he felt compassion and prayed to God to forgive them. Sinners are whom Jesus came to spend time with, love on, and heal. On the other hand, Jesus got most angry with the Pharisees and teachers of the religious law. He got most mad at the people who were always trying to get better (and force everyone else to do so as well).

In the book of Luke, there is a passage in Chapter 11 where Jesus slams the Pharisees and teachers of the religious law. It’s a brutal passage, really, and I think it would be a scary read for anyone in religious leadership today. At one point, Jesus says, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them” (Luke 11:46).

Christians, Grace, and 3 Free Sins

I think as Christians, we need to be careful to not act like the experts of the law in this passage.

A lot of times I think Christians talk about grace, but we don’t often practice it with each other. Or we might think we are saved by grace, but once saved, we have to start the process of sanctification and get better!

For example, maybe you have heard the following things said around your church:

“What, you’re still struggling with that?”

“Wait a minute, you’ve been a Christian for how long, and you still do that [insert whatever bad thing you struggle with]”

Grace means God loves and accepts us no matter what. Even when we aren’t getting better. Grace means we love and accept each other no matter what. Even when we aren’t getting better. Grace means “3 free sins.”

Discussion: What do you think of the idea of “3 free sins?” In what areas of your life might you be blocking God’s grace by your obsession with getting better?


Related Thoughts

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  1. JJ November 5, 2014 at 8:03 am - Reply

    Right On!!!
    I want to read this book!

  2. Josh Thompson July 11, 2018 at 7:07 am - Reply

    It can be a slippery slope though. If we start think we have free sins it can become easier to justify them or to ease up the sanctification process.
    I think a better perspective is what james macdonald would say..”I’m not who i am, I’m not who i will be, but I’m not who i was.” I think its also important to confess our sins to a brother. When we say we have free sins, it seems like it gives us the ability to sin without recourse. I haven’t read the book, and I do get that its probably encouraging us not to be so hard on ourselves, something ive been encouraged to do in small group,but on face value it seems to be a slippery slope.

    • Josh Thompson July 12, 2018 at 10:00 am - Reply

      I misquoted… “I’m not who I should be, I’m not who I could be, but I’m not who I was.” That makes a lot more sense! Sorry about that…

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