DiM | “Flawless” by MercyMe

Presentation1Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

June 09, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Flawless” by MercyMe which currently sits at #19 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

We’ll continue using this top 20 song list until I find a better list. Your feedback in this would be greatly appreciated.

When I first heard this song on the radio, I was driving and didn’t catch most of the first verse, but I was really excited to hear a song talking about God’s Grace and how there is nothing we can do to earn that Grace, not before salvation or retroactively. However, now that I’ve listened to it several times and read the lyrics (part of my writing process), I’m less excited about the song. In seeking to assuage one fear (works-based righteousness before God), it conveys several poor notions. We’ll discuss those below.

VEVO Music Video

Lyrcs (via KLove)

Flawless by MercyMe

There’s got to be more
Than going back and forth
From doing right to doing wrong
‘Cause we were taught that’s who we are
Come on get in line right behind me
You along with everybody
Thinking there’s worth in what you do

Then like a hero who takes the stage when
We’re on the edge of our seats saying it’s too late
Well let me introduce you to amazing grace

No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt
Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless

Could it possibly be
That we simply can’t believe
That this unconditional
Kind of love would be enough
To take a filthy wretch like this
And wrap him up in righteousness
But that’s exactly what He did

Take a breath smile and say
Right here right now I’m ok because
The cross was enough

Then like a hero who takes the stage when
We’re on the edge of our seats saying it’s too late
Well let me introduce you to grace grace
God’s grace

No matter what they say
Or what you think you are
The day you called His name
He made you flawless

Publishing: MercyMe Music (ASCAP) (admin. by Music Services); Wet As A Fish Music (ASCAP) (admin. by Music Services); Soul Glow Activator Music (BMI) (admin. by Music Services); D Soul Music / Universal Music Brentwood Benson Publishing (ASCAP) (admin. by capitolcmgpublishing.com); 9t One Songs / Ariose Music (ASCAP) (admin. by capitolcmgpublishing.com). All rights reserved.
Writer(s): Bart Millard, Mike Scheuchzer, Nathan Cochran, Robby Shaffer; Barry Graul; Solomon Olds; David Garcia; Ben Glover

Discussion

Overall Intent

I believe the intent behind this song is a good one. I’m inferring intent based on the direction of the errors and the current theme in the Christian music industry. The intent is to reassure the listener that faith in Christ’s life, death, & resurrection is sufficient for salvation. That the one who believes in the Son has eternal life assured, and that nothing he does in this life can improve upon that assurance. Our rightstanding with God is by faith alone in Christ alone to the Glory of God alone. Both boasting (in our good works) and condemnation (for not measuring up to the good works of others) are excluded.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Romans 8:1-11 (ESV) | Life in the Spirit
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Hopefully, in reading through the passage in Romans, we see where MercyMe was intending to go but toward the end of that passage we see where the song gets a bit off track. Does the cross make us flawless in the here and now? Not in the flesh. This flesh is corrupted, dead, because of sin. We walk in sinful bodies, but we who are in Christ do not submit ourselves to the flesh; rather, we walk in the Spirit, meaning by faith we hold onto the promise of the Resurrection, a Promise sealed in us by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a Gift for those who have believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope
1 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Peter makes it clear that our Salvation and Hope are assured, though our reception of the fullness of the Promise is not yet. How can that be? Faith.

Romans 8:23-25 (ESV) 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

No one hopes for what he sees. We hope (with assurance by faith) for what we do not yet see, our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies, the resurrection in Christ Jesus.

The cross has made you flawless in the hope that is to come, the Return of Jesus Christ. This song stays focused on hurts and sins of the past. Our bodies still bear the scars of sin… we all will die a physical death.

Problems

While I believe the overall intent of the song to have come from a good place, there are some big problems in the lyrics that bear mentioning.

Verse 1. There’s got to be more Than going back and forth From doing right to doing wrong ‘Cause we were taught that’s who we are… What is really being countered here? I mean, the truth is that this is who we are, we are simultaneously justified by faith and sinners in the flesh. If we stop teaching this as the truth of our existence, does that change the existence? No. What is the alternative? That Christians no longer sin or that sin is no longer sin for Christians? Absolutely not! So, this whole verse gets a “fail” from me. The last line of this verse, if held tightly within the context of what we’d explored as the “intent” of the song, kind of fits. But the truth is that what we do (or don’t do) has worth, it has value, within the Body of Christ. Not in our right-standing with God, but in our love for our neighbors. When (not “if”) we sin against our neighbor, we need to repent and seek forgiveness. That act has worth.

Pre-Chorus. I like the imagery of the pre-chorus. At first, I was concerned that it was making the listener the one taking the stage, but I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s the Grace of God being introduced on the stage that is being conveyed here, and I really like that. Kudos to whoever wrote this pre-chorus.

Chorus. bumps, bruises, scars… and then the cross made us flawless? I think we got a bit lost in the imagery. The power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that by His blood we are forgiven of our sin. Sin is far more than bumps, bruises, and scars… sin is death. Bumps and bruises, in light of the Gospel, are trials and tribulations of this life. They pale in comparison to the Gospel of Grace. Our flesh is scarred by sin (ours and of others). Sometimes our scars lead us to sin (habitual sins, learned sinful behavior, vengeance etc.) and only the Grace of God can heal those wounds. This chorus can be encouraging, in that thanks to the Cross of Jesus Christ, we no longer are slaves to sin or the kingdom of darkness… but the authors confused the two forms of righteousness and don’t seem to rightly understand the idea of simul justes et peccator. We are completely forgiven in Jesus’ name, and we continue to sin and repent of those sins as the Holy Spirit convicts us. Forgiveness is assured, He is Faithful and Just to forgive us our sins when we confess and repent.

Verse 2. Okay, this verse is an improvement, but it fails in the same area that the majority of popular Christian songs fail… there is no mention of repentance and forgiveness. What is available here and now is forgiveness, based on Christ’s atonement for our sin. It is a beautiful and glorious exchange, our repentance by faith exchanges our filthy rags for a robe of righteousness in Jesus’ Name.

Conclusion

We need to get back to understanding the Truth of what the Apostle Paul taught regarding our existence as simultaneously Justified and sinner. By faith we are joined with Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins. Yet, we remain walking this earth as exiles, no longer belonging to this world but not yet rid of this sinful flesh to put on fully redeemed bodies.

Philippians 3:8-16 (ESV) 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

As surely as the patriarchs longed for the Promised Messiah, we long for His return, for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, when at last we will be completely healed of every remnant of sin in our mortal bodies, for we will be given new bodies in Christ Jesus. The Promise is True, He will return for His Church.

Revelation 22:20-21 (ESV) 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen.Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

2 thoughts on “DiM | “Flawless” by MercyMe

  1. I am glad you wrote this. I heard this song for the first time and was troubled by the “flawless” wording, which you have covered very well. Thanks, Jorge.

  2. I completely agree with your analysis. Although I have listened to the music of Bart and the boys for in excess of 20 years, and although I enjoy the talent of Bart and appreciate his passion; many of their songs are unscriptural. One must be mindful that since these artists are signed to “labels”, their loyalty is more to the production company. Self-promotion and self-aggrandizement are always factors to consider as well. This song falls under the category of seeker-sensitivity and the social gospel, or easy-believism.
    I repudiate not the doctrine of the cross, as it is a central doctrine of the Bible. However, this song exalts the cross to the sole and loft position of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. The cross is the instrument of death which slays the sin nature of man. The entry point to fellowship with the Father. The precious Blood of the Lamb, or CHRIST Himself, is the One Whom makes us flawless. As a former follower of Jimmy Swaggart and his perverted “Message of the Cross”, which is nothing more than hyper-Calvinism cloaked in the deception of Pentecostalism, I am very astute at discerning false doctrines. As you rightly stated, without proper repentance and confession of sin, there is no justification nor forgiveness of sins.

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