Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Gospel Is Not Just a Door You Enter

A common assumption of our culture is that if we accept ourselves and have high self esteem, all our problems will be solved. Now there are those who reinterpret this in a Christian way, and I do not intend here to examine how successful these attempts are. But the secular form of this concept is based on the assumption that we are basically good and if we just recognize this, it will allow us to live that way. This claims that feelings of guilt and inadequacy are illusions and if we can just get rid of the feelings, we can live as we want to live. This is not the Biblical position. The Bible starts with the position that we are sinners (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 64:6; Jeremiah 17:9). We feel guilty and inadequate because we are guilty and inadequate. But God has done something about it. He has sent His Son to pay the entire penalty for our sins (1 Peter 2:24,25; Colossians 2:13,14; 2 Corinthians 5:21) so that those who put their faith in Him may be forgiven of all they have done wrong (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Galatians 2:16). He has also sent the Holy Spirit to live in those who have put their faith in Christ and to transform them (2 Corinthian 3:18; Philippians 2:13; Colossians 1:29). Further, God works through us to accomplish His purpose in the world (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 3:5,6; 1 Corinthians 3:6,7). Now there is the question of whether we respond to what He is doing in our lives or resist it (Romans 6:12-14; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18). But the power to accomplish these things comes from God.  

The result of this is we can stand before God with confidence on the basis of His grace (Romans 5:1,2; Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 4:17,18). But we can also recognize that we are not yet the people God means us to be (Philippians 3:12-16; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Timothy 4:7,8). But we are given the motivation to change, based on our love for God because of what He has done for us (1 John 4:19; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; Luke 7:36-50). One of the dangers of the secular philosophy that we should accept ourselves just as we are is it provides little real motivation for change and leaves us right where we were. Also, we can pursue this goal with humility, knowing that we stand before God based, not on our own goodness, but the work of Another (1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Romans 3:27; Luke 18:9-17). This helps us to avoid the self-righteousness which can trip us up or cause us to be satisfied with being something less than what we ought to be (Proverbs 16:18; Matthew 23:23-28; Romans 2:1). It also means that when we do fail, instead of being cast down in despair, we can come to God for forgiveness (2 Corinthians 7:10; Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9). Therefore, we should not look to ourselves and our adequacy, but to God and His power.

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