Over the past several years there has been a growing awareness of a quiet sickness plaguing the church. It is quiet because it has the outward appearance of godliness and spiritual growth, and it is a sickness because it leads to spiritual exhaustion at its best and spiritual death at its very worst. It’s an extremely cruel enemy because it deceives people into feel good about their spiritual walks at one moment, and causes them to feel completely defeated by their indwelling sin and failures when they are inevitably revealed in the next.
What great foe am I referring to? The temptation toward legalism and moralism in the Christian life. Christine Hoover refers to it as the “goodness gospel,” and says that when she lived under it, she “appeared to be a good Christian,” on the outside, but on the inside, “felt unlovable and was riddled with guilt about [her] inability to please God.” As an adherent to this false gospel, Christine “sought joy, peace, and love through being good, and instead found [herself] miserably enslaved to [her] own unattainable standards.” Perhaps you can relate?
To be sure, many of us have found ourselves in a similar spiritual maze. We know that in and of ourselves, it is impossible to please God, and yet we so often faultily feel as though pleasing God is all up to us. This type of do-it-yourself Christianity has been the subject of many blog articles and books in recent years as the church seeks to reorient itself to the concept of grace-empowered Christianity. That is to say, enjoying the powerful work of God’s grace in a believer’s sanctification, and not just in their initial salvation. We have been inundated with calls to rest in the indicative realities of the Bible (what Christ has done for us), and to allow that sweet, gospel knowledge to produce the sanctification and holiness that we all so desperately desire.Read More