I know in many circles we often simplify scripture in mans Way and Gods way. However, a closer look at scripture shows us 3 ways.
1. The moralistic religious approach (pharisiism, legalism)
2. The irreligious approach (I’ll do it my way, Antinomiansm)
3. The Gospel approach which says we are all absolute sinners and all absolutely loved by Christ.
Problems with #1.
The problem with #1 has is it has subtle slippery slope that we often don’t even realize is occuring in our lives. Religion and/or religious attitudes are often part of the problem in todays world.
Let me describe this slippery slope.
First, Religious people believe they have the truth which often leads to a sense of superiority over having that truth.
Second, it leads to a separation. Since you have the truth and there are so many people out there without this same truth you dont want to hang out with these non-truth bearing people.
Third, It leads to a simplified caricaturization of all non truth bearing people. Since you dont know them they become one dimensional.
Fourth, the 3 above things lead to a passive or active repression of all non-truth bearing people and you dont give them the same regard.
If Christians really take a hard look ourselves we would all realize that the above attitudes are a big part of the problem in todays world. Its my contention that Jesus Christ did not partake in ANY of the above four attitudes thereby leading to the approach of Jesus Christ which I call the “Gospel” approach.
Problems with #2 are usually easily understood so I wont cover them here.
Why is #3 (THE GOSPEL APPROACH) so important.
Christians typically have one of two narratives running through their lives. One is the moral/works righteosness narrative. The other is the Grace narrative. Martin Luther who did everything in his power to be the best monk he could but struggled with feelings of insecurity found great solace in Romans 1:16-17 where it says that in the Gospel a righteoussness is revealed and it is righteousness that is by faith from first to last. He then realized that any righteouness is not what he gives to God but rather all righteousness is a GIFT from God through Jesus Christ. He finally was able to relax and he found a deep joy by finding his identity DEEPLY in Christ (emphasis on Deeply). Deep intimacy with Jesus galvenizes lasting service and obedience.
Anxiety, insecurity, inability to take criticism, criticising others, racial pride, feelings of superiority all come from a performance (moral performance or other) theme running in our lives. It comes from looking to something besides Jesus Christ as your actual righteousness.
In scripture it says that in our weaknesses we find strength. The Gospel approach allows us to discuss our sins in a open, vulnerable way and not shove them in the closet. By doing so we have the possiblity of escaping from those sins and find strength in Jesus Christ. The Gospel approach does not say that because I have Jesus I am more moral than you it says, really, that I am worse than you. Somehow by identifying my complete depravity I now have the abiltiy to confess my sins and to other Christians and look all other people in the eye realizing we are all alike in our need of a Savior.
The moral approach forces Christians to take their sin underground and to use the white knuckle method of escaping sin. This white knuckle method seldom works and even tightens the stranglehold of sin in our lives.
If you clearly see the beauty of the Gospel you WILL want to share the beauty. Lets rest in Jesus Christ as our savior so we can find strength in overcoming our weaknesses.