Even though this post has a lot to do with scriptural interpretation, I believe this post is extremely important for unbelievers to read. Why? You probably turned Jesus, the bible, and Christianity down partly because it was presented to you wrongly. No, maybe you won’t come to Jesus just through reading this post, but we hope it will open your eyes to a more accurate depiction of Jesus. We love those that don’t believe like us, and hope you will continue participating in the conversation, like our atheist friend Logan Cael does in this Podcast episode. Give it a listen, along with our other episodes.
Here’s an actual quote that was posted on our blog from a reader:
“I understand that you guys are very big on grace and love, but anytime you hear anyone speaking about commands, laws, or obedience, you automatically label it legalism. Legalism is wrong, obedience to scripture is not. Sexual immorality is a sin regardless of how you try to justify it. God’s word is the ultimate standard of truth, not your interpretation of right and wrong. I say these things not to argue or cause dissention, but…urge you, as a brother in Christ, to reconsider your views on obedience and submission to the authority of scripture.”
We appreciate and agree with most of his sentiments. Of course we believe God’s word is the ultimate standard. Yes, we are big into grace and love.
I do NOT agree, however, that we (BadChristian) “minimize the law” and “label all admonitions to ‘live holy’ as legalism.”
Here’s what I will say. I hold fast to my position in favor of tipping the scales towards grace and love. Here’s why.
John 3:17 states that Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world. Some translations say “judge the world.” He also was always busy calling people to him (Matthew 11:28-30). I get it. Thiswould include calling people out of a lifestyle of willful, habitual sin.
Let’s back up a bit and get a more thorough glimpse of the discussion at hand. The comment at the beginning of this post was a response from this Facebook post that simply asked:
“What if the problem wasn’t our sin, but rather our independence from God?”
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Sin separates us from God. Separation from God causes us to spiritually self-destruct. That’s a problem. But humanity’s primary problem?
We aren’t separated by God because we choose this “self destruction” over God. Who would choose that? We are separated from God because, “We choose to reject Jesus as our Savior and the Father as our Father,” thinking that we are better off alone, not realizing that doing things solo will destroy us. We reject God in favor of autonomy and knowledge. Did you read Toby’s post last week, “Go To Hell“? It has a lot to do with this choice that so many are making.
I don’t know about you, but as a Christian, I’ve never said, “God, I want to be separate from you. Please leave me the hell alone and let me self-destruct.” I have, however, chosen to do things separately from my Father. For example, I certainly am not walking with God when I check out a girl that isn’t my wife.
Let’s look again at Matthew 11:28-30. Here’s what it says word for word.
“28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I originally said that “coming to Jesus” would include leaving a life of willful sin. Synonymous? I would say not. Jesus is making a call here simply to “Come.” Words are key.
The beauty of following Jesus is that He leads us out of more and more sin, but that’s typically not where Jesus starts. The point of the gospel is to “come” to the savior that defeated sin.
We can’t make ourselves pleasing to God. That’s Jesus’ job. And, we are told clearly in 1 John 1:8 that we will never be able to stop sinning entirely. Read more about this subject here.
As Christians, then, I truly believe that our job is to talk about grace, mercy, and love.
“To repent” means to turn from sin and towards Jesus. Jesus is appealing. A relationship with Him is enticing. Salvation is scandalous.
On the other hand, trying to stop sinning and attempting to measure up to a standard that no one, including Christians, is measuring up to? No thanks. I’ll pass. It’s because this teaching is so prevalent in the church that even within the church walls, people feel compelled to be “hush, hush” about sin. It’s a tragedy that some folks aren’t even comfortable with talking to their own Pastors, like we talk about here.
Once unbelievers come to Jesus, we are emphatically told in God’s word that we are not under the law. We are free in Christ. He perfects us. The law cannot bring about righteous living (Galatians 3:21).
So, you mean to tell me that it starts with coming to Jesus, and once we are in Him, we aren’t under the law but still in Jesus?
I’d say that’s the gospel. God wants us reunited with Him. Sounds good doesn’t it? I know. That’s why I follow Jesus.