I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!
Galatians 1:6-8 (NIV)
Seeing people thrive spiritually is inspiring. We desire the passion, conviction, and faith that come from having a close walk with God and overcoming sin. Those who thrive spiritually are those who live by the right gospel, the Bible. There are, however, different gospels we turn to when the Bible is no longer the standard of our lives. Here are some of the most common ones we turn to:
- The Gospel of Avoidance: This gospel advocates involvement in church activities but avoids honest conversations and has no intention of changing or repenting.
- The Gospel of Feelings: This gospel is all about being motivated by your emotions. You can live by the Bible when you feel good but as soon as you feel a negative emotion the standard of the Bible goes out the window. Your faithfulness to God’s word is based on how you feel.
- The Gospel of Success: This gospel is all about you. As long as God is blessing your life and things are going well, you will seek him but once you start encountering some difficulties, you blame God and abandon him.
- The Gospel of Appearance: This gospel’s theme is all about compromise. You are willing to compromise your convictions so you can fit it at work or school. You would rather do things that go against your conscience so that you can be part of the crowd.
Which one of these gospels do you follow?
Growing or Withering
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
John 15:5-7 (NIV)
This scripture explains what happens to us when we leave the true gospel: we wither. How can you tell if you have started to wither? You are more concerned about being right then you are about developing strong relationships with people, you get critical easily toward people rather than love people and you lose self-awareness because you are more concerned about how you look in the eyes of others rather than dealing with your own sin.
But the good news is you don’t have to stay this way. There is a surefire way to get back on track to obeying the true gospel and to get that refreshment from a renewed faith. We do this by choosing to repent.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
John 8:9-11 (NIV)
Jesus doesn’t just want to give us relief from the guilt our sin brings, but to free us from the grip sin has on our lives by choosing to repent. Repentance means leaving our old life behind and starting to live a new one! If we take a look at this scripture, Jesus gives us some insight on what it means to repent.
- “Go” – This is all about taking action. Repentance is not a passive thing. It is something we can and need to take action on. What areas of your life is God calling to take action on today?
- “Now” – Jesus tells us that repentance doesn’t have to be a drawn out process but that we should do it urgently. Is there any repentance that you have been resisting? Make a decision to tackle it today.
- “Leave” – Jesus calls us not to just take a break from our old life, or to make improvements but to be completely done with it. Are there any areas of your life that you have a hard time giving up?
If we make the decisions to repent today from the other “gospels” we have been living by and get grafted back into the true vine, God will stop us from withering and help us thrive again.