Modern-day Christianity has sold us on a huge lie. It has changed the course of this nation. It has changed the landscape of our Christian culture. It has changed me. It is a sobering thing to think about. And one that we should truly be aware of and fight against with all that is within us. Here it is:
Salvation exists to give ME a purpose.
Ummm, really? I thought salvation was for the purpose of saving sinners from eternal hell. That I realize that I, in and of myself, have nothing good in me to offer anyone, especially God. There is nothing I can do or say or be that makes me acceptable to Almighty God. (Ephesians 2:8,9)
You may say, “Well, I believe that.”. Yes, so do I. But here are five ways this lie has crept into our lives (at least from my observation).
1) I can do what I want because Jesus wants me to be happy.
That is just not true. There is nothing in scripture that says Jesus wants me to be happy. In fact, I would say the opposite is true…Matthew 19: 16-26 is the account of the rich young ruler. Jesus tells him to sell all that he has…knowing that young man is extremely attached to his material possessions. If our modern day definition of happiness includes material wealth (and it does for many of us) then what Jesus is asking this young man to do goes against the definition of happiness. And what about Matthew 16:24? Jesus tells us that anyone who desires to come after Him must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Him. That sounds like the complete opposite of our definition of happiness, doesn’t it? Deny myself? Deny myself worldly pleasures? You know what your worldly pleasures are, just as I know what mine are. And we are kidding ourselves if we think we can have Jesus and the world, too. We can’t. We have to make a choice.
2) I can do what I want because Jesus forgives me.
Oh, really? Yes, Jesus forgives. But if we are truly saved, our hearts will be tremendously grieved at causing the Father grief when we sin. I see very little grief over sin. In fact, I see very little conviction about sin. Most of us are living our lives without even giving consideration to the things that grieve the Father in our lives. How incredibly sad He must be at the lack of care we give to the sins in our lives. I know that I, personally, do not take seriously enough the sin I commit every day. I truly want to live my life so that I am not sinning with a carefree attitude that I will be forgiven, but that I am truly grieved at the sin in my life and am working towards sinning as little as possible.
3) I need to be relevant to reach the world.
Matthew 5:13 says that we are the salt of the earth. And how shall the world be seasoned if we lose our flavor? It is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. I would say that Christianity in America has completely lost its flavor and needs to be thrown out in its entirety. The relevance lie has brought about nothing but a bunch of “Christians” who need excuses to drink, gamble, wear immodest clothing, and watch movies/listen to music that goes against all that God stands for. If God needs us to be like the world to reach the world, He is a pretty small God. That is a pretty small box for Him. Do I really believe God needs me to be like the world to reach people for Him? It goes against God’s word completely. And if I am like the world, what I am I truly offering to the world? James 1:27 tell us we need to be unspotted from the world. I see an awful lot of spots—in my life and in the lives of those around me. It is sobering to think on.
4) I need to love myself before I can love others.
This is one of the most insidious of all the lies. We hear it everywhere…from popular authors…to magazines…to pop music…to preachers…all are telling us that we cannot be fulfilled, happy, love others, or realize our dreams until we love ourselves. But Jesus tells us we already DO love ourselves, and that we are to love others the way we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). We are not to foster this love, we are to try to rid ourselves of it. Some of you may say “well, I don’t love myself, I hate myself.” Don’t you see that this is a form of love? It really comes down to MYSELF consuming my time, thoughts, ambitions, and goals.
Philippians 2:3 puts it this way: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”
The goal is to stop thinking about ourselves at all…to always put others ahead of ourselves. This is SO very hard. But coming to grips with the fact that self-love is not our goal is a start to a new way of living.
5) I need to fulfill my dreams because that is what God wants for me.
No, He doesn’t. This was one I came face to face with just recently. I am a person of great dreams. I have lots on my bucket list. But I was convicted recently (by another of John MacArthur’s sermons!) that my duty is to do the things set before me…please my husband, care for my children, be a good steward of my time and money, etc. If God allows me to live some of my dreams (and He has!) then that is an extra blessing. It isn’t that I deserve it. It is not my personal right to have my dreams fulfilled.
In conclusion, I would just say that this has been very difficult to write. It goes against so much of what we are being taught today. And in writing this, I have been convicted all over again about how these lies have affected me and my family. It is sobering to realize how far Christianity has strayed from the truth of the Gospel and has so watered it down that many who think they are believes will be at the pearly gates telling God they knew Him and he will say He never knew them! (Matthew 7: 21-23)