Tag: Gospel-centered

Fighting the “Identity-of-the-Moment”

On Sunday, I shared how we can consistently see through our sin to our “identity of the moment” (Know your Sin), put that false identity to death (Fight your Sin), and turn to Christ for life and joy (Trust your Savior).  Here are three easy steps to fight for true joy in Christ!

1. Know Your Sin: Look for the sinful patterns in your life and trace them to “identity of the moment” that you are looking to for worth, meaning (good pastor, faithful parent, creative person, successful entrepreneur). For instance, your sin could be sulking and your false identity could be victim. Acts 29 has recently posted some helpful “X-ray Questions” from David Powlison, which help us see through our sin to our misplaced sense of identity.

  • Identify sinful patterns
  • Trace patterns to your “identity of the moment”

2. Fight Your Sin. Once you know your sin/identity issue, you can begin to fight it. There are two primary ways God calls us to fight our sin. First, confess your sin to God and ask for his forgiveness for your God-belittling desires and decisions (1 John 1:9). Follow your confession to God with confession to community so you can experience healing and encouragement of the church (James 5:16). Second, encourage one another to take sin seriously, to “put sin to death” (Rom 8:13; Col 3:5). Don’t let identity-twisting sin just roll off your back. Get tenacious about glorifying and enjoying God!

  • Confess your sin (to God and one another)
  • Get serious about fighting for true joy

3. Trust Your Savior. Trusting our Savior for gospel identity instead of an identity-of-the-moment is the most difficult and important part of being a disciple. Robert Murray McCheyene said: “For every look at sin, look ten times at Christ.” How does Christ offer you a better identity than the false identity? My sin was sulking and my identity was victim. 2 Peter 1:3 reminds me that my identity is godly, a partaker of the divine nature. I was sulking in ungodliness because I thought I deserved better circumstances. I felt weak. Peter reminds us that we have “divine power granted to us for life and godliness.” This scripture reminded me of my identity—godly—but it does not stop there. It also offers us a Savior to trust, a counter-promise of divine power necessary to live a godly life, not a sulking life. What a relief! Our identity is godly, and our promise is divine power!

  • Find your Gospel counter-Identity
  • Trust your Biblical Promise

We’ve outlined these basic principles are in Fight Clubs: Gospel-centered Discipleship, a community-based, gospel-centered approach to following Jesus. Pick up a copy, find some friends, and start fighting for true joy!

You Can’t Prove Yourself (so stop trying)

Do you ever find yourself trying to prove yourself…to Others, to Self, or to God? Here are a few ways we slide away from the approval of the Gospel to proving ourselves. The categories of proving yourself to Others/Self/God are adapted from Tim Chester’s forthcoming U.S. publication of You Can Change, an excellent book for Gospel Change. The explanations are largely mine, as well as the Gospel aphorisms. So, don’t expect all of this in You Can Change, but do expect some great material that thinks about change along similar lines. As you read, consider which one of these categories fits you and let us know how you’re finding the Gospel more reliable than yourself.

Proving Yourself To Others

When we try to prove ourselves to others, we set ourselves on impressing them—a spouse, a boss, a parent, a peer. We want so desperately to be cheered by them, that we’ll overwork or compromise our health or morals. The approval of others becomes the most important standard in our lives, so we sacrifice our beliefs, our convictions, our standards so that we will be accepted by others. When others are our standard, we will always fail to find the approval and acceptance we long for. Performance Fail. The Gospel reminds us that others cannot offer us lasting acceptance. That God not others are our standard. We will never sufficiently prove ourselves to others because we are flawed. God is our standard. We fail to meet it, but the gospel reminds us that Jesus has met God’s standard for us! Others aren’t nearly as forgiving as Jesus is. We need not prove ourselves because Jesus has proven our worth. We don’t’ have to seek approval from others because are approved by grace in Christ. That is Good News.

Proving Yourself To Self

When we try to prove ourselves to ourself, we set ourselves on improving upon our past.  We try to perfect ourselves. “I used to look at porn but now I don’t.” “I used to not go to church, but now I do.” “I used to not be missional, but now I am.” This may work for a while, as long as we succeed, but as soon as we fail ourselves the bottom of our worth drops out. Our sense of worth and acceptance comes from moral or spiritual self-improvement, not from Jesus. Our standard is Self not God. Peformance Fail. Self isn’t nearly as forgiving as Jesus. The Gospel reminds us that we have not sinned against ourselves, but we have sinned against God. But the Gospel reminds us that we must look to God for the ultimate standard. God provides a righteous, not relative standard, and it can be met alone by faith in Christ, by resting in his acceptance. From our place of acceptance and rest in Jesus, we can live a life that reflects God’s holy standard, instead of striving against ourselves. We don’t have to perfect ourselves because imperfect people cling to a perfect Christ. This too is Good News.

Proving Yourself To God

When we try to prove ourselves to God, we set ourselves on impressing God. We try to perform for his acceptance and approval. “Look how devoted I’ve been to you.” “I’m involved in so much mission and church ministry, surely God is happy” We content ourselves with proving ourselves to God. We try to be good enough, missional enough, spiritual enough. We may even secretly believe that even though we’ve been forgiven in Christ, God’s favor is based on our performance after salvation. We think to ourselves: “If I practice enough spiritual disciplines, then I will gain the spiritual intimacy I long for.” We think that we can put God in our debt. Our standard is God, which is good, but the problem is that we can’t reach his standard. Performance Fail. The Gospel reminds us that we are still sinners, never good enough apart from Christ AND it calls us to stop trying to prove ourselves to Him. The Gospel calls us to rest in God’s approval of us in Christ. To receive his forgiveness for sinful performance and rely on Christ’s performance for us. We need not impress God, because Jesus has impressed God for us. This is Good News!

Gospel Approval (it’s so much better!)

Here are a few gospel aphorisms that might be helpful to memorize when you are tempted to prove yourself to others, yourself, or God.

  • We don’t’ have to seek approval from [Others] because are approved by grace in Christ.
  • We don’t have to perfect [Ourselves] because imperfect people cling to a perfect Christ.
  • We don’t have to impress [God] because Jesus impressed him for us.

Gospel-centered Questions for Fight Clubs

Check out the new post from Justin Hroch on Gospel-centered Questions for Fight Clubs:

The purpose for being in a Fight Club is to attack sin at its root and see Christ in the height of his glory. Too often our focus is on the external symptoms of sin, where we strive for victory by working tirelessly to control our sin.

I have found it helpful to ask personalized gospel-centered questions to uncover the deep-rooted idolatries of my heart. Because we encounter temptation and sin in different ways, personalized questions can be very helpful in leading us to repentance and faith in Jesus.

Justin proposes we form specific questions to suit one another, keeping three things in mind:

  • Personality Type
  • Recurring Outside Influences
  • Tendencies towards Sin

Check it out here.