A man named Roy recently asked me those questions in a private message via my Facebook page.
I get hundreds of messages every week from people looking for prophetic words, wise counsel or just a little encouragement as they walk by faith one day at a time. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to respond to everyone, but this struggling soul’s message so struck my heart that I immediately sought the Lord for help to answer Roy’s absolute anguish. Here’s the body of his entire message to me:
“I’m in desperate need of advice. I recently disassociated with the hypergrace movement and it has left me in a spiritual struggle, from anxiety and depression to straight up confusion and other mental symptoms. Unbelief has eroded me pretty well. I have questioned my salvation and even God’s existence and I can barely even read the Word without being critical and doubtful. Have I crossed the unforgivable line? Is there still hope for me? This has been going on about 4 months. I feel as if my heart has hardened. I really want my sincerity for God and spiritual things to return! Thanks for any help.”
What a heartbreaking testimony! You can hear the desperation. You can see the struggle. I understand all too well how disassociating with a movement the Holy Spirit shows you is riddled with errors and extremes can cause a faith crisis. I’ve been there with the extreme apostolic movement that values building one’s own personal kingdom before family—and ultimately even God. For a deeper discussion of what the hypergrace movement is, click here.
Breaking Away From Deception
When I broke away from that movement, I struggled with confusion over whether or not I made the right choice—even though a cloud of seasoned ministers showed me Scripture that clearly exposed the extreme errors. It took me more than a year to shake that dust off my feet, and it was, indeed, a spiritual struggle. I know others who escaped that same extreme apostolic movement who wound up depressed and with other mental symptoms like the ones Roy described. That’s because the enemy is angry that you’ve stopped buying into his deception, and he wants to torment you (John 10:10).
When you turn your back on deception, you often turn your back on friends who are flowing in that same deception—or, I should rightly say, they often turn their back on you. It can be a painful process to remove the tentacles of error from your soul, especially if you’ve believed the error for a long while. We tend to read the Bible through the lens of the camp we call home, whether that’s apostolic, prophetic, spiritual warfare, word of faith or some other doctrine. Roy was reading the Word with a hypergrace filter, and once he saw the error, it caused a crisis of faith in the Word.
Once error is exposed, it can be difficult to believe anything you read because you lose confidence in your ability to rightly divide the Word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). After all, you were deceived once, right? That’s the way I thought, and I thank God that I had mature saints around me to help me wade through that recovery stage quickly. Others I know are still struggling with the aftermath of believing lies. Like Roy said, he can “barely even read the Word without being critical and doubtful.”
The Rotten Fruit of Hypergrace
How can a movement based on grace leave one in such a spiritual struggle, from anxiety and depression to straight-up confusion and other mental symptoms? How can it drive unbelief into your soul? How can it cause you to question your salvation and even God’s existence? How can it lead you to question if you’ve crossed the unforgivable line or if there’s still hope for you? Again, it’s the enemy tormenting you because you discovered the truth. The Holy Spirit doesn’t talk to you in those terms (John 14:26). If you were in error for leaving a movement, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t reveal it by flooding you with condemnation, confusion, unbelief and the like. Here’s some of what I told Roy:
“Rest assured that you have not crossed any line or committed any unpardonable sin by disassociating with the hypergrace movement. I believe the issue is that you have seen the light of truth and the enemy is tormenting you because you have broken free from the deception you were under. He wants to steal, kill and destroy your faith and paralyze you. ... You need to shore up your foundations in the faith. You are very brave and you do have faith; evidenced by your willingness to follow the Holy Spirit out of deception. You can get your footing back. Surround yourself with books, and solid teaching. Get back to basics and you’ll walk completely free of this torment. I am praying for you.”
Maybe you can relate to Roy’s struggle—or maybe you can’t. I hope you can’t. But if you can, I pray that you’ll take the advice I offered him for yourself. And if you are currently part of the hypergrace movement, extreme apostolic movement or some other movement on the fringes of Christianity that clouds Scripture with personal experiences and full-blown error, I pray that the Holy Spirit will open the eyes of your heart, break in with light and set you free. In fact, I encourage you to pray for God to break any deception off your mind even if you think you’ve got it all right. None of us have it all right, and little errors can lead to big deceptions—and even heresy. Amen.
Jennifer LeClaire is news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including The Spiritual Warrior's Guide to Defeating Jezebel. You can email Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.