I had a good conversation the other day with a man who is doubting his life-long beliefs in the LDS church, but does not yet know what to make of biblical Christianity. He shared how one of the things he doesn’t get about Christians is that it seems that they focus so much on their weakness and imperfection that it becomes an excuse not to improve themselves or live good lives. I told him that I think his observation is correct. But I don’t think it’s because these Christians’ view of their own sin is too high, but that their view of grace is too low.
The Bible teaches that it’s God’s grace that empowers life-change. Consider Titus 2:11-12, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” It’s grace–good news of Jesus’ work for us–that trains us to change! Once a person has been impacted by gospel grace at a heart level, he or she can’t help but want to change.
Change really happens not when we discipline ourselves to more diligently follow the rules, but when we are gripped by the truth that Jesus perfectly followed the rules for us and has credited it to our account.
I’ll sum this up with John Bunyan’s famous quote:
“Run, John, run. The law commands
But gives neither feet nor hands.
Better news the gospel brings;
It bids us fly and gives us wings.”