I’ve had a lot of conversations in the last couple weeks about how Christians can live with a sharp disconnect between what they believe and how they act. Inconsistency, hypocrisy, lack of character – we have lots of different labels for something that we both hate in others and, when we’re brutally honest, see in ourselves.
We’ve attacked the problems in two different ways. This week we’re looking at a third – simply reviewing the basics of the Gospel. We tend to quickly forget these things.
The awfulness and shear scope of our own sin. The most easily-proven doctrine is the most taken for granted. There is no one righteous – no not even one! (Romans 3:10) The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. (Gen. 6:5)
“The struggle to accept our exceeding sinfulness is everywhere in the church of Christ… when we are approached about our own sin, we wrap our robes of self-righteousness around us and rise to our own defense.
But only when you accept the bad news of the gospel does the good news make any sense. The grace, restoration, reconciliation, forgiveness, mercy, patience, power, healing and hope of the gospel are for sinners. They are only meaningful to you if you admit that you have the disease and realize that it’s terminal.”*
The importance of the heart. We talk a lot about behavior. People are doing this or that. We setup goals and measurable observations. – But God looks at the HEART. “The heart is the steering wheel of every human being. Everything we do is shaped and controlled by what our hearts want… Lasting changes always comes through the heart.” We need to guard it and try and learn what this means: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
The benefits of Christ for RIGHT NOW: Jesus RULES the all things (Ephesians 2:22-23) Right now Jesus is putting all his enemies under his feet. (1 Cor 15:25-28) We can live courageously without fear.
Jesus calls us to Grow and Change: We can’t just coast. We need to be free from sin, from our selfishness, from our pride and take on Jesus’ character. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:4)
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:11-13)
* Quotes and some of the content from How People Change.