“God Accepts Me As I Am” (The Defense Series)
[Welcome to The Defense Series. The aim of this series is to help Christians more effectively “make a defense” (1 Pet. 3:15) to those who challenge the teachings and values of New Testament Christianity. Don’t be fooled by the title; this article is a response to the above quote. My prayer is that the following words will help and embolden you as you stand for Truth.]
I heard it again just the other day. A well-intentioned lady told me, “It doesn’t matter what church you attend or what you believe – God just accepts us as we are.”
She isn’t the first person to have said something like this. The sentiment that “God accepts you as you are” is a common belief among many in the Christian community. But, in the voice of Inigo Montoya, I’m not sure that phrase means what they think it means.
“God accepts me as I am” sounds really good in an off-handed comment – especially in our pluralistic society. But what does it mean in reality? If God accepts you as you are, does He accept me as I am? What about the compulsive liar, the adulterer, the practicing homosexual, or the gossiper? Does God accept these people? What about the serial murderer, the rapist, or the thief? Does He accept those people? What are the parameters this statement? Under what conditions does God accept one person “as he is,” and deny another “as he is”?
The problem with the “God accepts me as I am” mentality is that it turns God into something He is not. Yes, God is love (1 John 4:8). He is love just as He is holy (Jer. 17:10; Psa. 11:7), sovereign (Psa. 93:1; Jer. 23:20), and just (Deut. 32:4; Psa. 18:30). God is all of these aspects – plus more – in their purest form. However, no single attribute represents Him exclusively; one quality cannot be separated from the others. His omniscience (all-knowledge) cannot be separated from His fairness; His love cannot be separated from His holiness.
Unfortunately, much of the world has taken “God is love” as the whole of His character. A God who is exclusively love would never punish or deny anyone. He would accept everyone as they are, demanding nothing in return and rewarding everyone (unless they’re really, super bad according to our standards). In the mind of one who believes “God accepts me as I am” there is no objective standard of behavior that God expects because He is exclusively love and nothing else.
God doesn’t “accept you as you are” because if He did, He wouldn’t actually love you.
Those who espouse “God accepts me as I am” theology do not recognize a difference between the words “love” and “acceptance.” The God who is unconditionally accepting cannot hate sin because He necessarily tolerates it. If He “accepts me as I am,” He also must accept my sin. But the Bible clearly teaches that God hates sin (cf. Psa. 5:4, 92:15; Isa. 6:4, 59:2; Rev. 6:8; 1 John 1:5-6).
One of the reasons God hates sin is because it hurts the people He loves. God loves sinners (Rom. 5:8), but He hates their sin because of what it does to them (Rom. 6:23; Prov. 13:15), along with its effect on the innocent (Prov. 6:16-17). Sin has eternal consequences as well as temporal consequences on earth.
I will always love my son, but that does not mean I will accept him when he wanders into the street or tries to touch the eye of a hot stove. As he matures into adulthood I will still always love him, but that does not mean I will always accept him if he ever denies his Lord (cf. Heb. 12:6). Likewise, since God is love, He hates that which is inherently destructive to the object of His love – us – and therefore has given us objective standards of behavior (cf. 2 Thess. 1:8).
The “God accepts me as I am” mindset fools the lost into thinking they are saved.
The devil loves the “God accepts me as I am” disposition. It removes any sense of urgency in obeying the Lord.
If God accepts me without condition, why should I care about the call of Christ when He said, “If anyone would come after Me, let Him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23)? If I am already a basically “good person” and God already “accepts as I am,” why should I follow Him? Certainly there is no need for me to deny myself and take up the cross of discipleship.
“God accepts me as I am” theology removes the need for belief, because belief is necessary to following Christ (cf. John 3:36). If one is not following Jesus, there can be no relationship with Jesus. And without a relationship there can be no commitment. Subsequently, “God accepts me as I am” can only result in a pseudo, feel-good type of religion, devoid of any real substance.
The “God accepts me as I am” mindset destroys the need for evangelism.
If God accepts me as I am, surely He accepts others. As a result, not only am I not committed to the Lord, but I have no concern for other people’s relationship to Him. Why should I bother telling others about God and His plan for saving mankind if I have no clear concept of what it means to be spiritually lost?
The only solution to this tragic misunderstanding is to realize that God’s love and justice are both satisfied at the Cross. Sin resulted in spiritual death (Rom. 3:23), but the Cross provided an opportunity for salvation (Rom. 6:23). God loves all men equally and universally (John 3:16), but unless we humbly and obediently follow Him, we cannot enjoy the benefits of His love.
To take one attribute of God at the neglect of His other attributes is to create a god who is not real.
(Your comments are welcome and encouraged, even if they are in disagreement. However, please keep your comments relevant to the article. For my full comment policy, click here.)