religion vs the gospel

  • 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 to God, to delight in Him and resemble Him.
  • 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 that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
  • Gospel: When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical 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. I can take criticism. That’s how I became a Christian.
  • 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. I disdain and feel superior to other people.
  • Gospel: My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for  me. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments.
Adapted from Tim Keller. Read the full thing here