Unbelievers Need Life, Not Rules, Not Law – This Should Be Our Gospel
CAN RULES GIVE THE DEAD LIFE? Imagine you’re walking down the road and you stumble upon a dead man. Someone tells you he lived an unhealthy lifestyle and he had a major heart attack and died about 5 hours ago. In hopes to save him you kneel down and start reading rules to him from a really good book. You tell him to eat better. Don’t drink alcohol. Exercise more. Don’t smoke. Take Vitamins. You give him a seemingly impressive list to do’s and don’t do’s. But nothing happens. Why? Because this man is dead. What he needs is life.
All those rules seem like the answer but lack any value in giving Him back his LIFE. Again, this man is dead and in need of LIFE. Sadly, no rules will resurrect him.
This is similar for us. Spiritually speaking the bible shows us we are DEAD (in Adam) and in need of LIFE (in Christ) – see Romans 5:12-21. It shows us that the law can’t give us life. The only hope for LIFE is faith in Christ.
Jesus said [John 10:10] “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Despite the fact that behavior improvement seems to be the biggest teaching to lost people, we are never told in scripture that the answer to our problem is to perform better. We are told we are dead and in need of life. A life that comes through faith in Jesus. When we place our faith in Jesus we are “born again” and we receive new life!
Take a look at the story of Nicodemus and what Jesus says he needs. And keep in mind this guy had plenty of rules. He was after all an elite religious leader in his time.
[John 3:1-7] Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
So you see, the problem is death. The solution is life. Rules won’t save the dead (unbelievers). They need faith in Christ and He will freely give them life. Instead of trying to change the behavior of an unbeliever we need to lead them to Jesus. He will take care of the behavior because He who began a good work in you will perfect it.
Side note: Being born of water is not about baptism. It’s about being born of flesh. Remember we were once in our mother’s water. In verse 6 Jesus clearly shows in the two kinds of births He is talking about. One is flesh. One is Spirit. Watch out for false teaching that turns this story into something it’s not about.
As for the believers, we don’t avoid sin so we can get right with God. We avoid sin because it’s bad and it never fulfills, it’s not who we are anymore, and He works in us to will and do His good pleasure. However, not sinning does not give us life. Christ did. Not sinning is not what makes us righteous. The new LIFE that Christ gave us does. Not sinning doesn’t make us more holy. Christ does.
Do you see it? When you look at it this way it’s about Him. Not us or our ability to earn righteousness through behavior. He gave us life. He made us righteous. You didn’t earn it and you’re not earning it now.
I thank God for His kindness.
Author: Mike Cynar
Mike Cynar was raised in a church setting where he frequently noticed that many attendees would eventually drift away. The church labeled these individuals as ‘back sliders’ or ‘fake Christians’ just looking for ‘fire insurance’. However, Mike realized the issue was rarely with these individuals but instead with the church’s message itself. The teachings heavily emphasized behavior improvement and one’s flaws, with only a fleeting mention of one’s identity in Christ. It felt as though every sermon was tailored to the church of Corinth, who as we know or committing sins that even unbelievers don’t partake in. This trend was noticeable not just in one denomination, but across Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, and many other churches. Upon understanding the true essence of the gospel – that our righteousness comes from Jesus’ actions, not our own – Mike was inspired to liberate believers from lifeless sermons and reconnect them with the genuine teachings of Jesus. He believes that one can nurture a vibrant and growing bond with Jesus, unhindered by rigid religious practices. And thus, “Jesus Without Religion” was born.
It turns out that it is grace that leads to repentance. And if our heart is to get others to walk in the Spirit and live a godly life, then the best approach is not a beat down sermon, but rather to remind other that it is only when we understand our true identity in Christ that we will live it out. Yes, it’s true, if you’re convinced that God thinks you’re a dirty sinner, you will ultimately continue a lifestyle that mirrors that view, but if you truly believe that even on your worst day, you are called holy, sanctified, justified, and will be presented blameless in the end, well, it turns out this is the secret to living out on the outside what has been worked in to the inside.