Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 4:1-2
We have been saved by the mercy of God and are called to follow Him. We don’t give up when things get tough. But we do renounce our old ways of getting things done one way or another. We will not deceive, mislead, or manipulate. That in itself is big. But the biggest commitment that Paul makes here is to not tamper with God’s word to make it easier to take or to suit our own purposes. Some people talk away the Bible by saying that it has mistakes, or that it was just written by people.
That’s not for us! We believe that God’s word is our authority for life, that it does not contain errors or contradictions and that what it says, we will do. We will not water it down to justify our sins, or the sins of others. As we stand on the Word, we speak to people’s consciences, because our core problem is sin. And our consciences are where we make the choices between right and wrong. We do all of this in the sight of God, who sees all that we do and will one day judge each one of us for what we have done.
Tim Keller, a pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, preached a message called “The Gospel Shaped Life.” In this sermon he talks about how the Gospel, the good news of Jesus coming to save us from our sins and to set us apart for Him, shapes our life so that it is entirely different from someone who does not follow Jesus, or who does not allow his or her life to shaped by Him. He talked of three main things about this Gospel shaped life, though there are many implications beyond that for all of us.
First, the grace of God appears to us and He teaches us to say ’no’ to ungodliness. That’s what Titus 2:11-12 tells us: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to life self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” So we don’t do the ungodly things anymore, not because they will make us look bad, or for fear of being caught or any other selfish motive. I say ‘no’ because God’s grace is in my life and it has changed my cravings and it has made me loathe ungodliness and selfishness.
Second, the Gospel sets us free from a variety of things. Those are things like our childhood, anger at being abused or shorted, addictions, obsessions, guilt, shame, anxiety, etc. As Acts 13:38-39 proclaims, through Jesus we are set from the things we couldn’t get free from before. As we move away from the things that shackle us, we are free to do all kinds of things we had no energy or ability to do before.
Finally, the Gospel makes us think of ourselves less. This is in contrast to thinking too much of yourself, or thinking you are ‘less than’ everyone else. We just think of ourselves less and of Jesus and others more.
Have you been shaped by the Gospel?
(Photo from Gracecityphilly.com)