There’s a big difference
between religion and the gospel. Religion is designed to give people a list of
things to do in order to stay on good terms with whatever deity(s) they profess
to worship. The trouble is, no one has ever kept their particular list of rules
well enough to be absolutely sure their deity isn’t angry with them. Religion simply
isn’t enough. All religion can do is make people feel worse every time they fail.
What people really need is good news, not a lot of religious talk about how bad
And that’s what the gospel
is – good news. The gospel removed the guilty conscience altogether. It
declares you clean and forgiven, and even lets you know that the Holy Spirit is
at work healing your mind. Sadly, though, we often try to turn even the gospel
into religion, imagining falsely that the good news is just another
condemnation of evil instead of God’s declaration of a new creation.
Most of us are so used to
having a guilty conscience that when we start believing the gospel about our
complete cleansing from sin, we start feeling guilty for not feeling guilty.
It’s as though we think God will like us better if we refuse to feel forgiven
Hebrews 10:19-22 says, “Therefore…since we have confidence
to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near to God with
a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our
hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience….”
Those are words of
confidence — confidence to be at home in the presence of God, not crushed down
with a load of guilt. It’s confidence in God himself–who loves us so much that
he sent his Son to remove our guilt and give us all the privileges of beloved
children. It has nothing to do with how good we are or think we are, but instead
with having faith in what God has done.
The gospel, thank God, is
not religion. It is the end of religion. It’s good news, the good news that God
loves you so much that he sent his Son to bear the curse of your sinfulness and
rise from the dead so you can be forever at peace with him.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking