Tuesday, April 20, 2010
You Can Change 2
Chapter 2 of Tim Chester's excellent book You Can Change is titled "Why Would You Like to Change?" He begins by giving three common reasons.
The first is to prove ourselves to God. We want to change because we think that by doing so we will gain favor with God. Perhaps that favor is salvation, or maybe it's just daily blessing. The problem with this is that it's nothing more than religion, which says, according to Tim Keller, "I obey in order to be accepted." Religion is not the Gospel. The Gospel says that we're accepted because of what Christ has done. That's it. There's nothing we can do to make God love us. And there's nothing we can do to make him love us any less. The work has been done.
The second reason we have for wanting to change is to prove ourselves to other people. We want others to be impressed, so we wear a mask, because if people knew what we were really like on the inside, they would be far from impressed! The problem with this is that it is possible to deceive people with our impressive masked-man living, yet when we do that, we no longer need a Savior. We might be living up to their standards, but we need to seek a higher standard - that of God's.
The final reason Chester gives for why we want to change is to prove ourselves to ourselves. Sin brings shame, and none of us likes to feel bad. We want to change so that we no longer feel bad. The problem with this is that we've forgotten that our sin is truly an offense to God, not just to ourselves.
The big problem with all of these is that it's about me. It's about my glory, which, according to Chester, is the definition of sin (living for my glory instead of God's). With all of these, we become our own savior and have no need for Christ. We have no need for the Cross. Chester quotes John Gerstner here: "The thing that really separates us from God is not so much our sin, but our damnable good works" (25).
Change can only come when we realize that the work was completed by Jesus. Jesus' work allows for true change to take place. Chester says, "Holiness is new affections, new desires, and new motives that then lead to new behavior. If you don't see your sin as completely pardoned, then your affections, desires, and motives will be wrong" (28).