Christianity teaches us that our problem is sin. It has a strong vice-grip on the believer that tries to entrap every situation for the purpose of spiritual demise. With this in mind, there has to be a solution, a way of escape to aid us in our road less traveled. Two answers can be found in regards to this. Either you live a life according to what Religion describes as its way to seek salvation or according to what the Gospels teaches us.
A few years ago I was confronted with this scenario. I observed during my tenure that many christian didn’t experience the same Christ that I came to know and love. Sure they knew the Bible, attended every service offered and even had the Jesus fish bumper sticker but what I saw beyond the surface was a Mr. Hyde Christianity. Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde battles with good and evil. He drinks a potion that he believes can separate his two natures hoping to be free from the evil side. But he doesn’t care who he hurts and solely thinks of his own desires. He continues down this dark path and in a sense attains religion and makes up his mind not to take the potion anymore. He begins to do charity work, good deeds and anything else that will view him as a standup individual among the community. In the end, he sits down on a park bench, contemplating all the good he has done and then without drinking the potion immediately turns into Hyde and kills himself.
Sin prides itself in so many lives that we replace a sovereign God with good works, solutions without the savior, false character instead of Christ centeredness. This type of Pharisaism is plaguing todays church into thinking that moral and spiritual performance will be enough to satisfy some sort of Christian quota. But what I experienced there was not a genuine act of love towards the Gospel but a self-righteousness that placed performance instead of purpose, a resume of good works without the heartfelt message of the Cross. Good works should be an expression of gratitude in the believer’s heart (See. Gal 5:6) This school of thought can ultimately damage ones soul and a church filled with such believers are spiritually unattractive.
“The deceitfulness of the heart of man appears in no one thing so much as this of spiritual pride and self-righteousness. The subtlety of Satan appears in its height, in his managing persons with respect to this sin. And perhaps one reason may be that here he has most experience; he knows the way of its coming in; he is acquainted with the secret springs of it: it was his own sin. Experience gives vast advantage in leading souls, either in good or evil.”
There is a difference we need to see. When we operate under religion we just obey and therefore are accepted by God, but under the Gospel we are accepted by God through the finish work of the cross therefore we obey. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matt 5:16 Even how we treat others weighs in on our faith. If I treat someone with a religious attitude, I will end up devaluing those who believe and are different from me. Although if I see others through the lenses of scripture and gospel the experience is life changing.
I pray that anyone reading this post today who are under a mentality of religious control will forfeit the urge to live by works alone but allow grace to guide them into a loving, responding attitude that the Gospel message declares to us all.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
QUESTION: ARE YOU LIVING A RELIGION OR GOSPEL LIFESTYLE?