Moralism: Finding God With Your Hands – The Worship of Your Works
The next flavor of satan’s Lie (It’s up to you to find God) that Pastor Fisk addresses in his book Broken is moralism – the belief that you find God by what you do, your works. Fisk writes the following:
In Michael Jackson’s song “Heal the World”, the multimillionaire stepped beyond preaching against prejudices to teach us that “if you care enough for the living” you can make the world “a better place for you and me and the entire human race.” The music video for “Heal the World” was filled to the brim with images of suffering impoverished children from every corner of the globe. If only we all could make a real effort, then together we could end world hunger and help the poor in every place everywhere.
The song was an immediate hit. After all, who is so callous as not to appreciate the suffering of others in this world nor want to do something about it? But decades later, there is one itching question you rarely hear anyone talk about. Why didn’t the world change? …Why couldn’t the man…use all of his influence and charisma to make the laudable dream of ending wolrd hunger happen? Why didn’t the richest people in the world all singing “Heal the World” together in memorial of their fallen comrade (at his funeral service) go home that sad day and finally make it happen?
Because “by works of the law no human being will be justified” (Romans 3:20). Because all you build and all you do and all you say still falls victim to the decay eating at our world (Matthew 6:19). Because no matter what Moralism tells you, he is the same old Lie. No matter how hard you try, you cannot build a better world. No matter how good your intentions, you don’t have the power to kill the real root of the problem. No matter how talented you are, you cannot remove the curse, which is why no matter what you are able to do you still cannot find God with your hands.
And yet many churches tragically have bought into this same lie – of trying to fix the church, fix the world, fix themselves by their own efforts. Fisk continues:
The problem is not that American churches are full of sinners. Jesus Christ was crucifed 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 preaching 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…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). (Note how Christian bookstores are filled with row after row of “How to” or “Self-help” books.)
We cannot allow moralism to steal our faith in the grace of Christ. …even when the apostles of the New Testament exhort you to love our 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 satsifed with the works of your hands. He is satisfied already. He is pleased already. He has found you already in Jesus.
Well said Pastor Fisk. Let me repeat that: God is not found, pleased, or satsifed with the works of your hands. He is satisfied already. He is pleased already. He has found you already in Jesus. I cannot stress that enough! Children of God, the devil and your own sinful flesh will always work to get you to look to yourself, your efforts, your works to “find God”, to try and find some peace or assurance of God’s love for you and even your salvation. I know that you know better, that you know that you are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But your Old Adam will not want you to believe that. He and the devil will always work to get you eyes off of Jesus and instead look to yourself and your efforts – and thus to despaire, for there is NOTHING within us that enables us to save ourself and “find God”. But God has already found you 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 (and given to you at your baptism). That is what those verally inspired holy apostles really want you to get out of their inerreant 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.
Michael Jackson sang of wanting to heal the world. But Jesus alone is the One Who does that. Wanting to do something to ease the suffering of others is a good thing. It is to have compassion, love and care – to reflect godly qualities you have in Christ. But they do not make you godly, only Jesus has done that.
So, as a Christian, never let anyone (including yourself!) tell you Christianity is about what you’re supposed to do…Rely on the free gift of Jesus (His pierced hands) instead of relying on your hands.