Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Monster.

I hate going to the dentist. I hate going to the dentist, because I know when I get there my dentist is going to ask me that one question. “ how is your flossing going” and I know I am going to have to look at him and reluctantly say something like “well….uhm… its going ok….i’m trying” and then admit that I haven’t been doing as well I should be, and then he will give me the look of judgement. He will give me the evil eye.

I hate going to the dentist because I feel like my relationship with him is entirely determined by my performance to him. I will either leave the dentist full of pride because I did well in my flossing, or leave in despair because I realize I don’t do as well as I could.

It is amazing how in the  similar way in which I view my dentist, many people view God.

Everything inside of the human heart strives to measure up, to perform, to succeed, and to be accepted. Everything inside of the human heart drives us to try to earn our way. The harder one tries, the better one will become, the harder on performs and measures up, the more acceptance one will achieve. This idea often carries into our relationship with God. We try to earn his acceptance. We try hard to obey the rules, serve, and be good people, in order to be accepted. It is called self righteousness and it is a monster. Its the biggest and yet most subtle heresy in the church today.

The Monster says I obey therefore I am accepted. The idea being if one tries hard enough to follow the Law and Prophets and, by worldly standards, does a good job, God will love them. If one does all the right things, works hard and performs well when its necessary, God is happy with them and they may go to heaven. To get closer to God one must obey as many rules as possible.

The Monster is about becoming better on the outside; at the heart of it, all The Monster is concerned with is making himself the savior of his own life. Following the rules set out by God, he becomes proud of his own actions and not joyful in God’s. And as pride rules the heart so does contempt for those who are deemed less worthy by prideful people.
The Gospel Man says that I am accepted therefore I obey. Through Christ, God is infinitely happy and accepting towards me. Through Christ I have gained His acceptance, His love, and His approval. I no longer work in order to gain his approval, but out of loving response to grace I will work hard. God is a father who looks at his kids; a father who loves me, in spite of who I was. God does not love me so that I will obey, but loves me so that I can obey. His relationship with the father doesn’t depend on his obedience to him, but Christ’s obedience to him on his behalf because he never could. Out of that thankfulness and relationship with Christ comes the fruit and obedience, motivated and fueled by grace and love rather than duty and obligation.

The Gospel Man says that there are only bad people, who are either repentant or unrepentant. Since are all born into sin, all are sinners, all are bad, all are rebels, and enemies of God. So when Gods see him, he doesn’t see bad or good, he sees unrepentant or repentant; Dead or alive; he sees bad and he sees Jesus. Period.

The Gospel man recognizes his unworthiness.

The Gospel man is repentant and understands the message of the Gospel. He understands that he indeed is bad, sinful, unclean and in need of the mercy and grace of God and when confronted by God’s law, can’t help but cry out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death”

The law shows us that our best is never good enough. It is as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 54:6) It reveals how quick we are to run from God but the gospel reveals how quick God is to run after us. The bad news is that we are more wicked then we could ever know or fear but the Good news is that in Christ we are far more loved and valuable then we could ever hope or have imagined.

If you are a Gospel Man, you are right now under the completely sufficient righteousness of Christ. In the courtroom of heaven God the judge has examined your case & declared you totally innocent in his eyes. Your pardon is full and final. In Christ, you’re forgiven. You’re clean. It is finished.The threat of failure, judgment, and condemnation has been removed. You’re in.forever.  Nothing you do will make your position better and nothing you do will make your position worse. you’ve been set free.

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