Tim Keller gives these helpful contrasts between the message of Jesus and religion.
It comes from his new DVD and book gospel in life: Grace Changes Everything
* Religion: “I obey; therefore, I’m accepted.”
* Gospel: “I’m accepted; therefore, I obey.”
* Religion: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.
* Gospel: Motivation is based on grateful joy.
* Religion: I obey God in order to get things from God.
* Gospel: I obey God to get God – to delight in and resemble him.
* Religion: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or myself, since I believe that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.
* Gospel: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle, but I know my punishment fell on Jesus and that while God may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.
* Religion: When I am criticized, I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a “good person.”
Threats to self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
* Gospel: When I am criticized, I struggle, but it is not essential for me to think of myself as a “good person.”
My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ.
* Religion: My prayer life consists largely of petition, and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment.
* Gospel: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration.
My main purpose is fellowship with God.
* Religion: My self-view swings things between two poles.
If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people.
If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel humble but not confident – I feel like a failure.
* Gospel: My self-view is not based on my moral achievement.
In Christ I am simul iustus et peccator –simultaneously sinful and lost, yet accepted in Christ.
I am so bad that he had to die for me, and I am so loved that he was glad to die for me.
This leads me to deep humility and confidence at the same time.
* Religion: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work, or how moral I am – and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral.
* Gospel: My identity and self worth are centered on the One who died for me.
I am saved by sheer grace and I can’t look down on those who believe or practise something different from me.
Only by grace am I what I am.