Yesterday I preached on Galatians 2:17-21, and in my sermon I emphasized the dangers of “Do-It-Yourself Christianity.” I described it as the kind of Christianity that arises from a debtor’s ethic, one where someone saved by grace tries to ‘repay’ God for his grace. Paul adamantly opposed to this grace-nullifying kind of Christianity (Gal 2:21) and warned the Galatians and us to beware of working out in the flesh what God gives only by faith and the power of the Spirit.
Wonder if you suffer from Do-It-Yourself Christianity? Here are ten symptoms which might indicate an emphasis on living the Christian life in the power of the flesh.
- If you ever pray, “God help me to be the best Christian I can be.”
- If you take pride that you are not like those other people.
- If you believe Christ died and rose again, but you do not know how those events impact your daily life.
- If “What Would Jesus Do?” summarizes your understanding of the Bible and Christianity.
- If you base your Christian faith on the “decision” you made and/or the “aisle you walked,” instead of the death Jesus died and the life he gives you by faith in him.
- If prayerlessness marks your daily life.
- If, in the words of Robert Fulghum, you learned all you needed to know about God, the Bible, and Jesus in VBS and Sunday School.
- If putting to death the deeds of the flesh means simply continuing to maintain the manmade barriers–no smoking, no drinking, no cussing, no long hair, etc.– instead of learning to walk by faith and love the unloveable (among other things) in the power of the Spirit.
- If confessing sin sounds something like this, “God forgive me for the things I have done, whatever they are.” When the Spirit convicts, He pinpoints specific areas of sin and disobedience.
- If fear of doing wrong moves you to separate from ‘sinners’ and establish greater barriers to protect you from sin, instead of walking in the Spirit, praying for the lost and asking God to make you a Spirit-filled vessel whom God can use to shine light into the darkness (cf Gal 5:16).
Bottom line, do-it-yourself Christianity is trusting in yourself to continue what Christ has begun. When you compare that mindset to that of the Apostle Paul and Jesus Christ, you will soon realize that such thinking is bankrupt of the gospel. Gospel living is a life marked by daily repentance and fresh faith in the living and active word of God. Salvation is not marked by checking a box, but is marked out by Spirit-produced fruit (cf Gal 5:22-23). Sadly, American Christianity is rife with do-it-yourself Christianity. It is a kind of religion that confesses Jesus, but denies his power.
May we repent of our self-reliance and learn to walk by faith in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit.
In need of the gospel more today than yesterday, dss