Before I grasped the truth of a Gospel-Driven Life, I was a slave to legalism and I didn’t even know it. My problem was not that I failed to understand what God required of me in His law. Nor was my problem that I lacked sufficient “practical and relevant,” tips, steps, or purposes to live the Christian life. Scores of purpose focused, step-laden books fill the shelves of Christian bookstores. “Practical, relevant” tip oriented sermons are the commonplace in the majority of Evangelical churches today. But, in reality, practical, relevant tips and purposes are nothing more than laws (and to be sure not even God’s law)! So, my problem was not that I needed to be told what to do. What I needed was life, strength and motivation to do it (i.e., obey the law)!
A Gospel-Driven believer comes to understand that he cannot keep God’s commands until he receives Christ’s life and strength (cf., Gal. 2:20).
So, when you are confronted with God’s law (e.g., 1 Peter 1:15-16, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”), you don’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps, make some resolutions, and say to yourself, “Just do it.” No! That is walking according to the flesh, the old man! Rather, God’s law (1 Peter 1:15-16) moves us first to flee to Christ by faith (Gal. 3:24).
“It is okay to be purpose directed but we must be Gospel-driven!”
Then, after we flee to Christ (i.e., preach the Gospel to ourselves), our faith is renewed and strengthened. Our affections are burning (i.e., gratitude) and then we will be able to live a holy life! It is only as we consider the privileges of our new state in Christ that our hearts are moved to love God and others, renounce sin, and obey His commandments. Dr. Michael Horton has well stated that it is okay to be purpose directed (i.e., the 3rd use of the law) but we must be Gospel-driven!
Walter Marshall captured this truth when he wrote,
“…believers should not act for life, but from life.”
How then does a believer come to love and obey God? Again, Marshall writes,
“…believe steadfastly, that all your sins are blotted out, and that you are reconciled to God, and have access to His favor by the blood of Christ; and that He is your God and Father, and altogether love to you, and your all-sufficient everlasting portion and happiness through Christ. Such apprehensions as these, do present God as a very lovely object to our hearts; and do thereby allure and win our affections, that cannot be forced by commands or threatenings, but must be sweetly won and drawn by allurements. We must not harbor any suspicions that, God would prove a terrible everlasting enemy to us, if we would love Him: for there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear; because fear has torment; he that fears is not made perfect in love. We love Him, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:18, 19).”