Posted by: Bay Presbyterian Church | April 18, 2018

Bootstrap Christianity

Light Paint, Leather Boot, Boot, Shoe, Shoes, Footwear


There are times, when we tell ourselves, or perhaps we’ve heard it from some pulpit, “that we need to work harder for the Lord; that we need to be more faithful, more holy; more generous in our giving, more loving and on and on.

Often, our response to these demands is to “try harder, to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, to do better”.  We grit our emotional teeth and flex our spiritual muscles and make new resolutions of undying faithfulness.

But how do we accomplish what we’ve been unwilling or unable to accomplish in the past?  Guilt works to a point, but guilt is a poor long-term motivator; we soon tire or become bitter when guilt is the key motivator.

It is of key importance that Paul “urges” the “believer” – “IN VIEW OF GOD’S ‘MERCIES’, to offer their bodies as living sacrifices.  It is so important to notice that Paul does not demand unqualified obedience, but that the believer would see their life through the lens of God’s mercies to us.  By the “mercies” of God we are forgiven of sin, not just past sins, but the entirety of our sin that damns us.  We are ‘declared’ – ‘forever perfect’ – by our faith in Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf. (Heb 10:14).  When God in His “mercy” sent His Son to die in our place, He ‘lavished’ His love on us who were fallen sinners, outcasts, under that penalty of death.  ‘Now’, we are called “children of God”. (1 John 3:1) “We are accepted ‘in the Beloved” (Eph 1:6 KJV) For the believer, there has been a paradigm shift; whereas before he/she was under the wrath of God, “dead in sin” (Eph 2:1), now the believer is ‘accepted in the Beloved (in Christ).  Charles Spurgeon elaborates on this passage to say that the believer is not only ‘accepted in the Beloved’, but that God ‘delights’ in the born-again believer, who is now a “new creation in Christ Jesus”. (2 Cor 5:17)

In my own war with sin, it has become increasingly important to me to realize that “I have been ‘bought’ with (at an extravagant) price”, and that I am now to honor God with my body” (1 Cor 6:20)

I now am motivated to live for Christ, not so much out of guilt, but out of love, out of gratitude to my Savior, and not just poor boot-strap duty.

Jim Diller

Bible Teacher

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