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September 2013 - Moralism

Moralism – The 2nd “Christian” Rule Every Christian Should Break As Frequently As Possible

     As I mentioned earlier this year, the elders and I have been reading Jonathan Fisk’s book “Broken” which examines seven rules people think are Christian in nature (rules that Christians should live by), but in reality are anything but.  In the second chapter, Fisk deals with Moralism.  “Moralism is the belief that access to God can be achieved through your personal efforts or attempts to improve yourself.”  It is the lie that you can find God by the works of your hands – your own efforts and good works.  You lead a good enough life and not only help improve the world around you, but certainly secure a spot in heaven for yourself.   We would understand this as works righteousness or a confusion of Law and Gospel. 

We all have been hardwired with a basic knowledge of right and wrong.  We know that is how we are live and what will make the world a better place.  But then we begin to fail in keeping our standard of good living, and thus lower the height of the bar, lower our standards in order to lesson our guilt so that we convince ourselves that we are doing alright.  This is the natural religion of man, and it constantly works at infiltrating Christianity.  To explain, let me share with you a couple of passages from Broken:

     It’s common street knowledge the Church is full of hypocrites and self-righteous jerks. It’s one of the main reasons people give for never going; they feel judged, not by the preaching of the Ten Commandments, but by the countless, arbitrary rules of a million sliding scales. The problem is not that American churches are full of sinners. Jesus Christ was crucified to cover all of that. The problem is that our churches have decided they’re better off not believing they are full of sinners. Instead, we’ve marched to war under the banner of Moralism. Whether it is by pushing a sermon series on the dangers of credit card debt or taking action in a movement to end world hunger, churches have become athletic clubs for training the muscles of self-righteousness. Whether selling toned spiritual abs or installing the latest treadmills for sanctification, Moralism means the big business of cleaning the outside until it is spic-and-span in the hopes that a shiny exterior will help us forget that inside we are full of curses and bitterness (Romans 3: 14). These are the reasons Moralism is the second rule every Christian ought to break as often as possible. We cannot let this cowardly man of war steal our faith in the grace of Christ… when the apostles of the New Testament exhort you to love your neighbor, to pursue gentleness, and to refrain from debauchery, that’s awesome, but that’s not a way to find God, to please God, or to satisfy God, because God is not found, pleased, or satisfied with the works of your hands.

     He is satisfied already.  He is please already.  He has found you already in Jesus.  God is never found in what you do. God is found in what Jesus has done for you with His birth, His life, His suffering and death, with His glorious resurrection and ascension, and with the current preaching of who He is and what He has done. That is what those verbally inspired holy apostles really want you to get out of their inerrant letters and Gospels. They knew as well as anyone that virtue and goodness are wonderful gifts. Good deeds are good things God has prepared for us beforehand so that we may do them (Ephesians 2: 10). But there is a chasm of difference between believing good works are good and believing you can make yourself good enough for God by doing them. So, as a Christian, never let anyone tell you Christianity is about what you’re supposed to do… Rely on the free gift of Jesus instead of relying on your hands.

     Very well said.  Moralism is consistently about yourself – doing for yourself.  It is the opposite of the morality God has given us – the good works of loving our neighbor as God as first loved and cared for us. 

We love and serve, not to earn God’s favor, but simply because we reflect the image of God He has restored in us.  Our comfort and security is never in anything we do, but always what God has done for us and given us in Christ, period.    As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:30-31: “You are in Christ Jesus, Who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”   Or again as written in 2 Corinthians 5:21:  “For our sake He made Him to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

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