I believe man continues to sin even in his/her religiosity and moral efforts. The first few Chapters of Romans discusses our total inability to please God on our own efforts. By mine and Tim Kellers definition, religion and moralism is man serving God for the sake of man. It is basically self serving religion and self serving morality. However, man should serve God out of the greatful joy of serving God.
The Gospel message that Christ died for our sins needs to be central to our thinkology because our sin is so deep we cant even see our sin in front of us. Also, the Gospel message of Jesus ressurrection and victory over death says Jesus loves us so much that he even wanted to die on the Cross. This gives us has the ability to be humble … but it also lovingly, builds us up simultaneously. The Gospel message of Christs’ death and resurrection deconstructs “self” and glorifies God while maintaining man as being made in the image of God.
Also, I highlighted in red a comment of Tim Kellers about postmodernism. Moral postmodernism is the belief that there are no absolute moral truths in todays world. As a result, moralists (people that see all mans primary sin being moral relativism) point to scripture for “moral” truth. I believe there is validity to this idea. However, when post modernism is your entire way of seeing life you miss the point of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ because equating moralism with Christianity does not see sin at the deeper level in the way scripture describes. Christians and non Christians are both incorrect when they equate moralism with Christianity. Why? Because, you are really engaging in an incorrect narrative or theme for your life or incorrect worldview if your entire way of seeing Christianity is through the evils of post-modernism or moral relativism. Equating moralism with Christianity is doing exactly what the pharisees were doing to Jesus Christ and the sinners around them — except we are just doing it in a 21st century way.
To be completely, honest, I was one of these peoples who was against moral relativism and against post-modernism in todays world a few years back. I have come to see a much greater purpose of the Gospel message as I have struggled with my own sins and been at the blunt end of the stick of the sins of other, often well intentioned Christians.
The cross is Gods passionate story of Jesus Christ for man.
Here is another excerpt from Tim Kellers article on humility that can be found in its entirety here:
The Stench of Moralism
Another mark of the moral-performance narrative is a constant need to find fault, win arguments, and prove that all opponents are not just mistaken but dishonest sellouts. However, when the gospel is deeply grasped, our need to win arguments is removed, and our language becomes gracious. We don’t have to ridicule our opponents, but instead we can engage them respectfully.
People who live in the moral-performance narrative use sarcastic, self-righteous putdown humor, or have no sense of humor at all. Lewis speaks of “the unsmiling concentration upon Self, which is the mark of hell.” The gospel, however, creates a gentle sense of irony. We find a lot to laugh at, starting with our own weaknesses. They don’t threaten us anymore because our ultimate worth is not based on our record or performance.
Martin Luther had the basic insight that moralism is the default mode of the human heart. Even Christians who believe the gospel of grace on one level can continue to operate as if they have been saved by their works. In “The Great Sin” in Mere Christianity, Lewis writes, “If we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good—above all, that we are better than someone else—I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the Devil.”
Gracious, self-forgetful humility should be one of the primary things that distinguishes Christian believers from the many other types of moral, decent people in the world. But I think it is fair to say that humility, which is a key differentiating mark of the Christian, is largely missing in the church. Nonbelievers, detecting the stench of sanctimony, turn away.
Some will say, “Phariseeism and moralism are not our culture’s big problems right now. Our problems are license and antinomianism. There is no need to talk about grace all the time to postmodern people.” But postmodern people have been rejecting Christianity for years, thinking that it was indistinguishable from moralism. Only if you show them there’s a difference—that what they rejected wasn’t real Christianity—will they even begin to listen again.