In my recent post looking at the gospel in Romans, I talked about how the gospel is not just something we hear as an unbeliever and then move on from when we come to faith but is something we must keep coming back to. This is not a mere intellectual exercise but has major implications for how we live out our faith.
If you loose sight of the gospel in your attempts to make progress in various aspects of the Christian life, you will likely make one of two mistakes. Ether you will get morally and spiritually lazy or you will get busy making your Christian life all about what you do. The laziness comes when we start to not care as much as we should about our sin. Many other people and our own sinful natures would like us to believe that our doing the wrong thing or failing to do the right thing doesn’t really matter that much. The price has indeed been fully paid for our sins but it was an enormous price we should not take lightly. Paul is emphatic about the seriousness of this in Romans 6. When we are tempted to sin or to not take our faith seriously, we need to keep coming back to the gospel.
The busyness comes when we overlook that we have not been made right with God through anything we have done but through the undeserved gift of Jesus’ death in our place for our sins. Sometimes this form of neglecting the gospel will involve blatant legalism, sometimes the vague feeling that we aren’t quite doing enough. Maybe this will take the form of thinking a particular ritual or behavior will put you in God’s good books or maybe it will manifest itself in desperate attempts to be an all round moral and spiritual overachiever to please God. Of course morality and effort have their place but the motives behind it are really important. Trying to earn our way right with God is a really poor motive for doing the right thing because we can't achieve it and it won't impress God.
Not only does keeping our eyes on the gospel keep us from spiritual laziness or self righteous busyness, it fuels rightly motivated love service and action. More on that in an upcoming post.