This post is a repost from something I wrote in 2009. I’m thinking of writing a follow-up post to this.
I have attended over eight churches in my lifetime, so please don’t connect what I am about to say to any particular church. I have spent my Sundays in churches, listening to sermons on all topics with different emphases.
This morning as I woke up after wrestling with something all night, I realized something crucial.
You can try to live for morality, but you will certainly die by morality.
Allow me to clarify.
At several of my past churches, the sermons were largely calls to morality loosely held together with the occasional scripture (that was sometimes pulled out of context). I am sure you’ve heard it.
Christians need to live a moral life. Give to the poor, look for places to serve, glorify God with your money, abstain from sexual immorality, don’t do drugs, ect.
Again, God is holy, therefore sin disgusts him. I’m not denying that. But when that becomes a main focus, you have a problem.
The church that preaches morality constantly but fails to preach forgiveness and grace is not going to have a thriving congregation. They will not have people come forward and confess that they are struggling with something. Why? Because these people know they don’t have it together and by this standard of morality, they have definitely failed.
This morality, Moses’ law (given by God as part of the old covenant), will inevitability send you to hell. Why? Because no human can keep this law.
I presently attend a church where I feel grace has a heavy emphasis. They have a program called Celebrate Recovery, similar to the 12 step program for alcoholics. The message? Repent, and be welcomed into the family.
Picture this. You are attending a church where almost every message is about how a good Christian should live, serve, and what they should say. These sermons point to morality (which again, is not bad) but very rarely say anything about God’s mercy, forgiveness or anything about God Himself. You are a born again Christian, struggling with a porn problem. There’s no place for repentance, confession, or forgiveness in this church. There is no way you are going to ask the church leadership for support.
Where there is no grace, there is no forgiveness, no room for error.
Just in case you were classing me as a heretic at this point, take a look at what Paul had to say.
“Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead you live under the freedom of God’s grace…You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ…But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit. Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! …But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life, and I died.” (Romans 6: 14, 7:4, 6, 7, 9)
We see this concept again in Galatians 2:19
“For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God.”
Also Galatians 5:1, 7-8
“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law…You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.”
Don’t be held captive—God calls us to freedom through His grace.