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Gospel vs Religion
I’m accepted, therefore I obey.
Motivation is based on grateful joy.
I obey to get God… to delight and resemble him.
When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle, but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus Christ and that while God may allow this for my training, He will exercise His fatherly love within my trials.
When I am criticized, I can take it. I do 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 Jesus. I can take criticism.
My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with God.
My self-view is not based on a view of myself as moral achiever. In Christ, I am “simul iustus et peccator” – simultaneously sinful and yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and 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 the one who died for his enemies and 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. It is only by grace that I am what I am. I have 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 is an ultimate end for me. None of them is something I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness and despondency such things can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost.
I obey, therefore I am accepted.
Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.
I obey God in order to get things from
When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or myself, 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 only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of my 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 falling people.
If and when I am not living up to my
standards, I feel insecure,
inadequate, and 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”.
Since I look to my own pedigree or performance for my spiritual acceptance, 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, regardless of what I say I believe about God.