Raised Right

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I was raised right.  And I raised my kids right.  And that does NOT make us Christians.  The false gospel I heard is called moralism.  Through my good behavior I believed I could gain heaven because Jesus loves me and wants me to be good.

“Why Moralism Is Not the Gospel — And Why So Many Christians Think It Is”  by Albert Mohler

Here’s an excerpt:

“The theological temptation of moralism is one many Christians and churches find it difficult to resist. The danger is that the church will communicate by both direct and indirect means that what God expects of fallen humanity is moral improvement. In so doing, the church subverts the Gospel and communicates a false gospel to a fallen world . . .  . Hell will be highly populated with those who were ‘raised right.’ The citizens of heaven will be those who, by the sheer grace and mercy of God, are there solely because of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.  Moralism is not the gospel.”

As Mohler says, it is seductive.  And Paul vehemently spoke against it in the book of Galatians.

We are saved only “by grace through faith” in Jesus’ final work on the cross. 

Our works are rubbish. 
His work is redemption.

So please, read the article and then come tell me what you think.  It amazes me how this thinking has permeated all of society and yet has nothing to do with our salvation.

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15 responses »

  1. Well, this is what I’ve believed since becoming a Christian at 22. It is a concrete need to keep that at the center of one’s understanding. Nonetheless, part of maturing in Christ is sanctification; becoming more like Him in behavior and obedience which DOES have a moral base. That’s where people get lost. Some see the action and forego the grace; others see grace and forego action.

    To attain grace we repent and believe. Again, repentance has a moral element. We aren’t saved by our action, we are saved by God’s action. The RESULT is a moral lifestyle.

  2. Welcome, Rob. Amen.
    I like the way Mohler put it:

    “The faithful Church of the Lord Jesus Christ must contend for the righteousness of these commands and the grace given to us in the knowledge of what is good and what is evil. We also have a responsibility to bear witness of this knowledge of good and evil to our neighbors. The restraining power of the law is essential to human community and to civilization.”

    I believe that is true, the “restraining power of the law” will keep us from chaos in community and help us to live morally. But now, among believers, the restraining power is the Holy Spirit, not a law placed upon us to gain approval, or to “look” Christian enough for one another.

    Sanctification is the progress we make as we get closer and closer to Him. We don’t sanctify ourselves; He is Jehovah-mekkodishkem. He does the sanctifying, and it’s excruciating when His fire purges.

    When you say, “The RESULT is a moral lifestyle.” I say, “Amen! To one degree or another. But it is individual and we must leave God to the work of sanctifying, as His Spirit speaks to our hearts. We don’t get to be ‘the Spirit’ to one another.”

  3. 1) We develop our moral code based on our experiences in life.

    2) A Christ Follower finds salvation from the gospel taught in the Bible.

    Finding salvation and learning to take the right, moral, action are two different things. I would presume that following the guidance taught by the gospel will also lead a CF to making right moral decisions. However moral behavior will not in it’s self lead a CF to salvation.

    I don’t see how learning correct moral behavior could ever be a bad, or dangerous thing. My perception of what Albert Mohler is saying is not that moral behavior is in it’s self a danger, but to preach it instead of the gospel is. It only becomes a negative if it is taught in place of the gospel.

    It sounds as if Mohler is talking about preaching morality from the pulpit, instead of the gospel. All of the teachings of a Church must flow from the Bible.

    It is also my perception that when making moral decisions in life a CF should be praying to, and receiving guidance from, the Holy Spirit.

    When seeking salvation a CF must follow the guidance in the gospel. When trying to make the right, moral choice, they should follow the guidance of their the Holy Spirit.

  4. Ed~I really liked what you said about the difference between learning to practice correct moral behavior vs. preaching it as the gospel. Very articulate 🙂

    I do think that “correct moral behavior” can be relative though and that it has to come from a central place. For believers it is the Word that gives definition to what is considered acceptable in God’s eyes vs. that which is not. A lot of those things carry over into the world’s perspective of what’s wrong vs. wrong however there are major differences in the response and understanding of why people do those things (for example in the world they may just be considered “bad” people who don’t deserve second chances but in God’s eyes we are all sinners/fallen short of His glory and He gives us infinite chances).

    As humans we tend to measure other’s moral behavior against our own to make ourselves feel better which is the problem. If we could learn to see each other as equally fallen as ourselves we could show more grace, patience, love, and mercy as God shows us every time we fall short.

    I think that is why I struggle with the term “correct moral behavior” vs. “God’s precepts/law/Word.” People use the former term loosely and like I said the definition is relative and it eventually becomes about whose better or worse than the other because of what they’ve done.

    Don’t know if it all makes sense. It’s a bit disjointed but it makes sense in my head 🙂

    Love ya Sis. Thanks, as always, for an on-time, wise Word 🙂

  5. Hey, Ed! I see it as you do (Are you sure you’re not a Christian? You make more sense than so many I know). A false gospel/teaching would be one that adds anything to the gospel Jesus preached:

    Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. (Matt. 11:28-29 MSG)

    We are to follow Him, the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Adding to His teaching of who He is and why He came is a false gospel. An anathema, as Paul declared.

    For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. ~Romans 10:8-10

    Hey, Gch! It makes sense to me. Morality can be as relative as custom, huh? I do believe we are to follow the commands of the scripture, but that will NOT save us. Only Jesus abiding with us. Only His Spirit living within. Only faith in His accomplished work on the cross as our substitute (propitiation) will give us His Spirit within. Then, and only then, do we have the power to overcome our fleshly desires.

    And as you say, once we begin to see ourselves as any better than any other fallen person, we have become prideful…the ultimate sin.

    By this you will know if you are His children, that you love one another (Michelle’s paraphrase from the teaching of 1 John).

    Love you too, Sweet Girl. So glad you’re in my life! 🙂

  6. Moral code is not the Gospel, not our saving Grace..but somehow Obedience works in..

    Just wanted to take a moment and stop and say Hi, and tell you i love you and I miss you..i do

  7. “For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am ever doing.”

    I know that moralism and good deeds don’t count for much with God, it is our hearts that He looks at. But though my heart wants to serve Him, and though my heart and my thoughts love Him, my own ways are so wrong, my own thoughts are not His thoughts, but I am stuck with me on this earth. It’s a dilemma. So I try to do good, but like Paul I don’t, and the good I do doesnt give me much pleasure because I feel like an alien to myself. Yes it’s a dilemma.

    Only His grace…

  8. Hey, Rain!

    Where sin abounds, grace abounds more.
    Praise God for His abundant grace!!

    I feel like an alien too, “stuck with me on this earth.” It’ll be good when we’re able to live in a perfect world with perfect minds and bodies. Until then, we press on…

    Praying for you. Please pray for me. Love you. XO

  9. “if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you have received, he is to be accursed.”

    indeed he is IF HE HAS FIRST RECEIVED CORRECTLY THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST!!!

    but what if he has not? what then? and accordingly, WHO has truly received in full, the perfectly correct, Gospel of Christ within them???

    St John Himself pointed out that: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of ANTICHRIST, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”

    For two thousand years then the spirit of the antichrist has been spread across the world.

    It has indeed ‘merged’ alongside of the Spirit, battling for supremacy within mankind as to just who’s Will shall prevail, as is evident today, where even those who claim Christian Spirit do that which is against Christ, be it from time to time or incessantly while painting themselves to be ‘true’ to Christ.

    There are surely some who believe they have received His Spirit within them who may have been deceived as to what spirit truly lives within them – What then of the one who can see the deception by reason of the other’s ‘works’ and who tries to declare to him ‘another’ Gospel – the True Gospel of Christ?

    Should the second man be accursed?

    i wrestle with this concept – a lot.

    Yet again, Sis, i still say Ed is ‘more’ Christian than many who claim that for themselves are. 🙂

    i say he’s in denial.

    As to the ‘wider’ topic being raised here i have recently received some insight into this issue.

    i do agree (mostly) 😉 that we are not justified through OUR works.

    What i have come to see though is that through our own efforts to bring ourselves more in ‘alignment’ with God’s will by placing our own desires and wants ‘secondarily’ to those we think He has for us as per the Scripture, (putting HIM First in our lives), essentially OUR works to choose to follow what He has ‘set down’ what that does is remove from ourselves the things WE have placed in the way of His Spirit from entering fully within us.

    In doing this we ‘prepare the way’ for His Spirit to flow more easily into us so that we may choose through our free-will to follow IT and not our own desires and ego-driven guidings within ourselves and our flesh bodies.

    God did NOT give us our desires of the flesh – He gave us all a heart with His Name upon it which we then chose to fill with things relating to this earth (by reason of our earthly senses/flesh) so that He was pushed away from His Rightful Place (this is our sin).

    Since we are the ones who put these things in us we have the right and the power to also remove them from us to bring us closer to a place of no sin – but also of no Grace. If we remove from us that which has caused us to sin as much as we may, then His Spirit is able to freely flow into us with far less chance of the Spirit being corrupted by reason of the corruption we have built up inside of who we are. (as Happened to Lucifer and other lesser spirits).

    Moralism can be used to help God’s Work in us – but like any other invention of man it can also be used for evil purposes – even while with good intent.

    How does that sound?

    and please remember i am not in any way suggesting we Justify ourselves or earn Grace through man’s works – although i see far too many who try to. 🙂

    <B

  10. Oh – and in case my belief was not made CLEAR let me now state that i know of no better WAY to ‘prepare’ the Way within us than to emulate and be as much like as is possible to Jesus Christ (barring the whole ‘no seed of Adam’ bit which of course we are unable to copy ourselves) 😉

    Prepare ye the Way of The Lord. 🙂 (that our Faith may be grown)

    <B

  11. Hey, LoveBug! (Somehow the added word keeps coming to mind…thought I’d take a chance and put it in there…see if you’re okay with it.) 😕

    I totally agree that we are to cooperate with His Spirit within us. And I’m glad you added that last sentence, “and please remember i am not in any way suggesting we Justify ourselves or earn Grace through man’s works – although i see far too many who try to.”

    I hear you talking about the sanctification process — the participation/cooperation we have of “growing up” in Him. We are told on this side of the cross in our lives, “to put off” the old and “to put on” the new. We do have work to accomplish. He has called us to perform the good works He prepared beforehand that we should do.

    Let me see if I can clarify through some technical theological terms:

    Justification — He justifies us by declaring us “not guilty” through our faith in His final work on the cross. This is salvation. This is the beginning point. Our death certificate has been taken away. We have life in Him.

    Positional Sanctification — He sets us apart for His glory…we are now separate from the world. We’ve been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.

    This work is simultaneous. We have faith (however, the initial faith is a gift of grace) in His work, He justifies us and sets us apart for Him. It’s all the beginning of our life in Him. Death to self…Alive to God.

    Progressive Sanctification — Now we move on in this walk as His sheep. This is walking “The Way” He has set before us. In this stage we are being changed from glory to glory, meaning, we are getting closer and closer to that point of seeing Him face to face. He purges us of the dross in our lives through our trials, tribulations, life on this earth to become more and more like Him. This is the walk of holiness.

    This stage begins at the point of initial sanctification and will continue until the day we are glorified. Our glorification is the point of death when all of the promises are realized. We will have a new body to go alongwith our new spirit.

    We participate in this work of progressive sanctification by continual submission to His will…His ways. It is not our saving faith. That was settled at justification. It is our “progress” in Him. The point of complete sanctification/glorification will happen on the day we are glorified…the day we stand before Him…then we will live without sin.

    Some people are taught to “walk in the Way” before they’ve even come to a point of salvation. This is teaching works before grace. Then some teach we must add to our salvation by our good works (moralism/legalism). Nothing we do will “add” to His final work. “It is finished.” Done. Nothing will “help” us gain salvation.

    However, we are to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel. Showing ourselves to be His…not our own…not controlled by our fleshly desires…but to live as He would have us live. His Spirit speaking to us, prodding, convicting, helping all along The Way. The Good Shepherd leading each step of The Way.

    I think we’re saying the same thing, just not using the same terms. Has this made sense?

  12. Absolutely Sis! 🙂 i agree – especially with the not the same terms part and while we both see as clearly as we might at the moment, from our own point-of-view’ on these matters, i also am sure that we neither see quite ‘perfectly’ as He does on these things – but i am hopeful that we both (all) come ever closer to that agreement in Him in Unity of Faith.

    Your explanations do help my own understandings and clarity is increasing – i hope 🙂

    One view i have on Faith/Works… If we do not do good works then our faith is not truly in Him – yet. By your works will you be known as a tree is known by it’s fruit.

    To me it is a mutual thing – our faith requires us to show our works and the works we do on ourselves is able to help the (His) work of Faith within each one of us shine from within us more clearly to others and ourselves.

    Along this line of thought i’m not sure we see eye to eye on the teaching to ‘walk in the way’ thing. I don’t see this as TEACHING works before Grace (as in Works are in any way greater than Grace as your words could imply some may believe who do this) – but instead i see this as teaching the flesh/body a way to act with the intention of being in a better position to not reject His Grace from reaching ‘down’ to us. Aligning the flesh so as to ‘train’ it in readiness for it’s subjection to His Will and not to add to it’s own ‘glory’ that can replace His within us when we choose our will over His as we learn to do from a very early age in childhood.

    Of course, His Spirit is able to overcome any desire of a single human flesh, but he chooses not to do ALL the ‘work’ for us but give us a share of responsibility for freely choosing His Way over our own ‘instinctive’ one. We may receive Grace when we choose to accept Christ, but not everyone is able to make that choice continually each second of every day of their lives from the initial ‘choice’.

    Some (most? All?) of us just don’t have Him fully within us instantly but have to grow in Him gradually.

    His Grace may be an instantaneous thing but converting our old body into a new one – or following His Will over our own more precisely is rarely as ‘quick’.

    By way of ‘evidence’ i am thinking of the many cases of supposedly Christian leaders who fail in truly evil ways to bend their Will to His, but keep it to their own – or who ‘fall’ from grace after a period of being the spiritual leaders for a community/church.

    <B

  13. Powerful thoughts and words, indeed. While I did not read the article you cited, the excerpt was quite interesting. It speaks of a dangerous attitude so many in the church have grabbed and made their very own.

    God is not impressed with the things we do or even our own morality. He’s not impressed when we call him Lord, but don’t do the things he asks of us.

    Personally, I am grateful my parents corrected me when I did wrong; they raised me right. Concerning the eternal side of the equation, those spankings I got did not save my soul from hell, but did save my flesh from all sorts of trouble. Thankfully, there was leaning going on.

    Great post, and sorry it’s been so long since last visiting.

  14. Hey, Love! I don’t know why I never responded to your comment. 😕

    I believe true faith will be shown by works, as James says: Faith without works is dead. Yet, it is a very fine line we walk and so easy to step over into moralism/legalism. I want the works I do to be Spirit-led and not Michelle-led. I think as soon as my humanness (ego) gets in there, it’s not a work of the Spirit. Not really sure how that plays out in the sphere (being stranded in skin and bones) but I desire to follow His lead.

    Hey, Preacher! Glad to see you here. 🙂

    I, too, am thankful I was corrected as a child. Truly. And I’m thankful fear of breaking God’s laws kept me on the straight and narrow when so many of my friends fell away. I only wish the mixed message wasn’t there, that somehow my good works were keeping me saved. But then, they couldn’t teach what they didn’t understand. Thankfully, we’re all (my family of origin) beginning to grasp grace more fully these days. Yes, having our flesh saved from all sorts of trouble is nothing to take lightly…a very good word…thanks.

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