Feb 23, 2011
Does the Gospel Include Emphasizing a Lifestyle Change?
I recently had this question posed to me: When you present the gospel, how do you balance the emphasis on the unconditional love of God, while also explaining that trusting in Christ means a radical lifestyle change?
There is often a temptation to try to force a new convert down the road to good works. This can stem from a lack of true faith in the transforming power of God. The Bible says, that all of our righteousness is filthy rags--I believe our post-conversion righteousness also falls into this category. It is easy to try to do what's right on our own strength, but we were never intended to live this way.
The gospel is not only about God's love and the change that only He can bring, it is also the good news of a defeated enemy. That enemy is our sin. Sin is choosing our way over God's way. If we want to share the gospel clearly, then we will emphasis our separation from God. His love comes into play, when He decided not to leave us in separation, but to offer a way back to Him through Jesus.
Far too many people are told to pray a prayer and begin behaving, without being asked the right question. Why do they want Christ? I always ask this question when leading someone to Jesus. Often the answer is related to problems at home, sickness, or people not treating them right.
Jesus did not come to fix our perceived problems--He came to reconcile us to Him, by destroying the power of sin over our lives. When we come to Him for forgiveness, we can have a relationship with Him. He will walk with us through the bad times, while using these situations to make us more like Him.
If someone changes their mind about sin and turns to Him, you will not have to emphasis works. Let the Holy Spirit do what only He can do. If He has convicted and drawn them, then He will continue speaking to them as they grow. We are tempted to play God, by giving them a set of start up laws. This will only ease people toward legalism. We will be better off if we realize, that only those who turn from their sin and come to Him, actually gain the promise of forgiveness.
Those who are looking for a quick fix to their problems, remain in their sins. When the problems remain they will usually blame God and begin to pull away, because in their mind He has failed them. The reality is that the problem-fixer God, does not exist, but the sin crushing, stain lifting and walk with you through anything God does.