This is a BLOG topic I wrote a while back that I am resurrecting again.
Martin Luther’s life verse was Romans 1:16-17 which discusses an imputed righteousness given to us through Jesus Christ. This imputed righteousness is something given not earned. Martin Luther also knew that man would, by default, try to get back on top of this righteousness (you may perceive it as self-rightoussness) by trying to see himself above others — in either worldly or religious ways. This is why he believed the Gospel message of Jesus dieing on the cross needed be said and re-said to people because mans default mode of religion where he would place himself on top in religious ways is NOT the method Jesus outlined to his disciples. Please read the following and see where you are in the spectrum of religious pharasaism vs the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mans original sin from the serpent was to be “like God’ and Martin Luther believed mans ultimate lust was not a lust of the flesh but a lust for his own significance and divinity separate from God. As Christians we need to realize that this lust for our divinity can be done in either a worldly, do it my own way method or we can do it in a phrasaical, religious way.
Its ironic to think that the root cause of the worldly, do it my own way humanism, or religious pharasaism have the same basic root cause and neither see Jesus and the Gospel in the proper light.
Two Forms of Righteousness
Religion view (A righteousness from the law, pharasaism)
- “I obey-therefore I’m accepted.”
- Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.
- I obey God in order to get things from God
- When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry with God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.
- When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
- My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment.
- My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel humble, but not confident-I feel like a failure.
- My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other.’ Identity in my behavior or beliefs
- Since I look to my own pedigree, discipline, or performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols. It may be my talents, my moral record, my personal discipline, my social status, etc. I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security, and significance, whatever I may say I believe about God.
- Bottom Up/Outside-in Christianity (Tries to control by man controlling man often in religious ways and focuses on external behavior and conformance, Focuses on “the problem and not real change”)
- Forces you to conform to accepted practices
- Emphasis on rules, regulations.
- Points you to a cause, a group, or an organization (church)
- Majors on beliefs, doctrine.
- Seeks to control you
- Results in alienation, distrust and separation from other people due to mans complete depravity
- Emphasizes what you are doing wrong
- Comes across as superior, judgmental, and discouraging
- Forces sin into the closet. Forces submerged feelings
- Creates a simplified Caricaturization of people in sin and makes them one dimensional. Focus on morality and external behavior and beliefs and not the problems or person behind the sin.
- Trust in religiously created ideas and performance thereby distracting us from our need for a savior. Focus on being a Christian.
Gospel View (A righteousness in Christ)
- “I’m accepted-therefore I obey.”
- Motivation is based on grateful joy.
- I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him.
- When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.
- When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism. That’s how I became a Christian.
- My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him.
- My self-view is not based on a view of my self as a moral achiever. In Christ I am simul iustus et peccator—simultaneously sinful and lost yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time. Neither swaggering nor sniveling.
- My identity and self-worth are centered on Jesus … the one who died for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments.
- I have many good things in my life—family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc. But none of these good things are ultimate things to me. None of them are things I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness, and despondency they can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost.
- Top-Down/Inside-Out Christianity (God affects the heart and through Jesus Christ enabling man to affect others. focuses on internals, focuses on the heart).
- Exhorts you to believe God & His Word
- Emphasizes open, intimate, vulnerable relationships.
- Points you to Christ and the Cross
- Majors on the Cross and ministering to people and their needs
- Seeks freedom in Christ.
- Results in love, intimacy, and trust … often even in the face of great sin and injustices. Living in understanding of mans sin but simultaneously wanting to overcome it. Walking on this path together.
- Emphasizes Intimacy with Jesus Christ and each other
- Comes across as accepting and encouraging
- Can discuss bad behavior without repressing it or spinning it in our favor. Allows honest, intimate discussion of feelings.
- Allows understanding of other peoples sin. Searches to accurately understand their environment so they can remove sin.
- Trust in Gods plan for us through his Son and the cross. Focuses on the savior and being “in Christ”.