The Gospel changed me.
It is still changing me.
Did you think the Gospel message was just for sinners… just for folks that don’t believe in Jesus or haven’t accepted God’s gift of forgiveness?
Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah when He began teaching in the synagogue:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
“Freedom for the prisoners,” He says. Some translations say “captives.” Captive to what? Prisoners of what? Freedom from what!?!
Freedom from the power of sin? Yes.
Freedom from the power of death? Yes!
Freedom from the power of sickness, the power of bondage, the power of addictions? Yes!
But also freedom from the yoke of religion and the law.
He quoted the prophet Isaiah to those who would know… the religious law-makers, the rabbis, the legalistic Pharisees and Sadducees, the self-righteous… like you and me.
Truth be told, we all have a bit of self-righteousness in us. Yes, all of us. Don’t get mad at me here. You can’t help it; it’s your default setting. We all do it. Since the fall of man, we’ve been doing it. Look it up; you’ll see.
I do it and you do it. Unfortunately, we may not recognize it. We may have even subtly passed this teaching on to those who would listen. I know I have. It goes something like this…
If you pray more, God will bless you more.
If you read your Bible more, God will bless you more.
We all do it. We think it. Be honest. Isn’t there a tinge of that somewhere inside you? I’d bet there is. (Wait, I can’t bet as a Christian; God might not bless me. Oops… there it is again!)
We think that if we do good, God will bless us more, show more favor to us, or worse, love us more. We also think that if we do bad, God will bless us less, show less favor to us, or worse, love us less.
That simply is not true. That is self-righteousness. And that is one of the things Jesus came to give us freedom from.
Jesus proclaimed in His dying words, “It is finished.”
Pastor Tullian Tchividjian says:
“God’s demand is: Be perfect.
God’s diagnosis is: Nobody’s perfect.
God’s deliverance: Jesus was perfect for you.
The flesh is always resistant to ‘It is finished.’ Always. You want to talk about the mortification of sin? Start there. Start with that part of you that resists, ‘It is finished.’ That’s unbelief.
The litmus test on whether the Gospel has been communicated in a sermon, book, blog post, or tweet is: If you don’t feel lighter or freer after it’s been communicated, it wasn’t the Gospel.”
The Gospel is still changing me.