Without the gospel there are no Christians. It goes without saying that Christians need the gospel. Despite this truth, many Christians act as if they have no need for the gospel after the point of conversion. How often have you been sitting in a church service and tuned out a pastor who begins to explain the content of the gospel? Christians are tempted to think that once they have trusted Christ, there is no need to hear the gospel again. They think, “That’s not for me.” The job is done. What is the point of hearing the gospel week in and week out after one has already repented and believed? However, to cave to these tempting thoughts is spiritual suicide because of the sinfully seductive world we live in.
We live in a world filled with seductive sinful passions that entice our lingering flesh. 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 gone awry, 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 alluring “he said, she said” conversations can lure us in to the point that we are numb to the hurtful words that we speak.
These temptations and the rest are readily available to us everywhere we look on any given day. Facebook, Twitter, TV programs, newspapers, and casual conversations provide temptations to fall into sin at any moment. And if we are honest, we sometimes actively seek these venues in order to satisfy our sinful passions. Christians are called to holiness and to conform to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). So then, 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?
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the primary means by which we fight and kill sin. If you want to overcome the 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 and the pre-grace predicament all of humanity is in from birth (Ps. 51:5). All the more reason why 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 when he wrote to the church at Corinth, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain” (1 Cor. 15:1-2). Paul directly connects sanctification to reminding these believers of the gospel. Gospel reminders serve our sanctification.
The gospel is a sanctifying means of grace that we need on a daily basis. So as you take in your daily dose of sinful temptations through your conversations and mouse clicks, consider how to 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 (Phil. 2:12-13). 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.
Do you find yourself neglecting your need for the gospel? Do you yawn when your pastor preaches the content of the gospel? If so, know that this kind of thinking is perilous to your faith. According to pastor and author Mitch Chase, “leaving the gospel behind in pursuit of Christian growth is actually the abandonment of the path to Christian growth.”
One way to remedy this gospel neglect is to remind yourself of the undeserved gift of grace of the gospel often. One exercise that I have found helpful is to put the gospel into words from time to time. Take a sheet of paper or open a blank document on your computer and simply write out the content and benefits of the gospel. Focusing on the power of God in the gospel will allow your eyes to gaze upon pleasures that are unending in Christ (Ps. 16:11) and provide the assurance that your battle for holiness is indeed 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 is still 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 by K. Scott Oliphint that may help you fight sin this week or this month:
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.
*This post first appeared as a chapter in my book, Come to the Well. You can purchase a copy from Amazon, CBD, and other book retailers.
Mathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.