Christians need the gospel. This is an awkwardly obvious phrase. Obvious because without “gospel” there is no “Christian.” Awkward because so many Christians act as if they do not need the gospel. This kind of thinking is perilous to our faith.
We live in a world filled with seductive sinful passions that entice the flesh that lingers from our old selves. Everything from television, books, magazines, and various websites tempt us to treasure pleasures that are fleeting at best and destructively damning at worst. We are also tempted with everyday social sins such as gossip. We all know the dangers of a prayer meeting, as too often we are left with a smorgasbord of gossip topics when we return home or head to work the next day. The destructive yet tempting “he said, she said” conversations can lure us in to the point that we are numb to the hurtful words that we speak. Matthew Mitchell has written an important book on this oft-ignored topic. I recommend you checking out Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue.
These temptations and the rest are readily available to us everywhere we look, every single day. Facebook, Twitter, TV programs, newspapers, casual conversations, and other means tempt us to fall into sin not only every day, but every moment. I am actually beginning to wonder how helpful Facebook actually is. Do the pros really outweigh the cons?
Christians are called to holiness. Christians are called to conformity to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). So, how is a Christian to live in a world filled with sinful seductions? How is a Christ-follower, a child of the Holy One of Israel, to survive in this daily battle of (or for) the heart?
Answer: The Gospel.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the primary means that we fight and kill sin. If you want to overcome that temptation that is vying for your heart’s worship, look to Christ and his gospel. One tremendous benefit of these dangerous temptations is the fact that they remind us of our dreadfully sinful condition–the pre-grace predicament all of humanity is in from birth (Ps. 51:7). And thus, our eyes should gaze upon the glory of God’s grace in the gospel–the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that provided the only way for us to be legally justified and paternally adopted by our holy and sovereign God. Paul realized the necessity of reminding Christians of the gospel (1 Cor. 15) and there have been books written on this all-important truth; one of which written by my former Greek grader, Mitchell Chase (The Gospel is for Christians).
The gospel is a sanctifying means of grace that you need on a daily basis. So, as you take in your daily dose of sinful temptations through your conversations and “clicks,” combat this satanic onslaught with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and most pointedly, the gospel. God provided a way for you to be made right with him and for you to be made like his Son. Your holiness was achieved on the cross, but it is being worked out in you every second of every day. One means for you to grow into this blood-bought and Spirit-wrought holiness is to meditate on the glory of God’s grace in the gospel.
Remind yourself of the undeserved gift of grace often. I would even recommend putting the gospel into words at various times. Focusing on the power of God in the gospel will allow your eyes to gaze upon pleasures that are unending (Ps. 16:11) in Christ and the assurance that your battle for holiness is being worked out by God in you and will be achieved in the last day (Rom. 8:30; Phil. 1:6). God provided a way for you to be made right with him. And he still is providing a way for you to flee and fight sin. The means in both cases is the same–the gospel of Jesus Christ; for your justification and your sanctification. Jesus died to cancel the debt of your sin, absorb the wrath of God against your sin, and free you from the slavery of sin.
Here is just one example of an articulation of the gospel from an Apologetics book I read recently that has helped me fight sin this week:
Man fell from his original state and consequently lost the ability and the will to worship and serve the Creator. The covenant relationship that, prior to the fall, existed in harmony with the Creator’s will was, after the fall, a relationship of animosity and rebellion on our side, and was one of wrath on the side of the Creator.
But there was still a relationship. It is not that man ceased to be a covenant creature after the fall. He was still responsible to God to obey and worship him. He turned this responsibility, however, into occasions for rebellion. Instead of walking with God in the cool of the day, man began to try to hide from God, to fight with God, to run from him, to use the abilities and gifts he had been given to attempt to thwart the plan of God and to construe for himself a possible world in which he was not dependent on God at all.
So God provided a way in which the obedience owed him and the worship due his name could be accomplished. He sent his own Son, who alone obeyed the spirit and letter of the law, and who also went to the cross to take the penalty we deserve in order that those who would come to him in faith would be declared not guilty before the tribunal of the covenant Judge.
–K. Scott Oliphint, Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith, pp. 41-42