A common misconception about grace which many Christians have embraced is the idea that God can no longer see their sins or flaws because God only sees them through Jesus.
While there are many texts which could be cited to refute this idea, we need only to look at the words which Jesus spoke to the churches in the book of the Revelation to find out whether or not this idea is credible.
Let’s begin with Jesus’s message to the church of Ephesus.
I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. ~ Revelation 2:2-5
Notice that Jesus knew both the good works the Ephesians were doing as well as the bad things which were displeasing to God. Even though the Ephesians had some good works for which he commended them, Jesus reprimanded them for their wrongs.
Jesus declares that even though he knew their good works, there was something that was causing him to be against them. They had left their first love, and Jesus refers to this as a “fallen” state of which they needed to repent.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. ~ v.5
Those who teach, and those who embrace the idea that God cannot see their sins because of Jesus have embraced a belief about Jesus that is not consistent with the words of Jesus. Many who embrace the idea that God cannot see their sins because of Jesus also believe that there is no need to repent when they sin because all their past, present, and future sins are forgiven. Yet Jesus tells his people in Ephesus to repent and warns of judgment if they do not.
Now lets consider the words of Jesus to the church at Pergamos.
I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. ~ Revelation 2:13-15
Again Jesus begins by acknowledging their good works, and again he exposes their sins, saying, “I have a few things against thee”. This is not consistent with the idea that God can’t see our sins and only sees us through Jesus. Jesus points out the sins of his people and tells them to repent. One of the sins in their midst was that some of them were holding to the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, something Jesus says he hates.
The writer of Hebrews says, “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”. ~ Hebrews 10:30-31
Notice that the text says, “the Lord will judge his people” in context to the severity of God. It does not say the Lord can no longer see his people’s sins and therefore there is no need to repent when you sin.
These words are sobering when we compare them to Jesus’s words above which were spoken to the church at Pergamos: “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth”. ~ Revelation 2:13-15
Finally consider the words of Jesus to the church of Thyatira.
I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. ~ Revelation 2:19-23
These too, are sobering words and agree with that which was written by the author of Hebrews (cited above). Jesus does commend those in Thyatira who have walked uprightly in verses 24-28 and promises them reward for their faithfulness.
It should be noted that in each instance (the church of Ephesus, the church of Pergamos, and the church of Thyatira), Jesus says, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 2:7,17,29). And in each case Jesus promises reward for those who overcome.
Teaching Christians that God only sees them through Jesus and therefore can no longer see their present sins is to teach something other than what the Spirit was saying to the churches in the book of the Revelation. We serve a Holy God who is a loving Heavenly Father, and his desire is that we be pure and holy in his sight. Through Jesus and by virtue of his Spirit he has made provision for us to be pure in his sight, but we must follow him in obedience and faith, and turn from our sins with repentant hearts when we do fail.
For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8