At our first core team gathering we discussed gospel-centrality and one component particularly: growing in our awareness of both God's holiness and our sinfulness. As our "understanding of our sin and of God’s holiness grows, something else grows: our appreciation and love for Jesus. His mediation, his sacrifice, his righteousness, and his gracious work on our behalf becomes increasingly sweet and powerful to us. The cross looms larger and more central in our lives as we rejoice in the Savior King who died upon it.
Unfortunately, our growth—our sanctification—does not work as neatly as we would like. Because of the indwelling sin that remains in us, we have an ongoing tendency to minimize the gospel. To shrink Christ’s death on the cross. We minimize God’s perfect holiness or minimize our sin."*
Below are the two lists we walked through at our first gathering. One describes the ways we minimize our sin and the other gives examples to specifically apply the gospel, making the cross more central in our lives.
6 Way We Minimize Our Sin*
I find it difficult to receive feedback about weaknesses or sin. When confronted, my tendency is to explain things away, talk about my successes, or justify my decisions. As a result, people are hesitant to approach me and I rarely have conversations about difficult things in my life.
I strive to keep up appearances and maintain a respectable image. My behavior, to some degree, is driven by what I think others think of me. I also do not like to think reflectively about my life. As a result, not many people know the real me. (I may not even know the real me.)
I tend to conceal as much as I can about my life, especially the“bad stuff.” This is different from faking, in that faking is about impressing. Hiding is more about shame. I don’t think people will accept or love the real me.
I tend to think (and talk) more highly of myself than I ought. I make things (good and bad) out to be much bigger than they are (usually to get attention). As a result, things often get more attention than they deserve and have a way of making me stressed or anxious.
I am quick to blame others for sin or circumstances. I have a difficult time “owning” my contributions to sin or conflict. There is an element of pride that assumes it’s not my fault and/or an element of fear of rejection if it is my fault.
I tend to give little weight to sin or circumstances in my life, as if they are “normal” or “not that bad.” As a result, things often don’t get the attention they deserve. They have a way of mounting to the point of being overwhelming.
12 Examples Of Applying The Gospel
1. When you turn to either self-esteem (pride) or poor self-worth (despair), preach the gospel to yourself that you are now chosen by God in Christ. Jesus secured your Election. (Ephesians 1:3-6)
2. When you believe/feel you are dirty or condemned, preach the gospel to yourself that you are now forgiven and washed clean by God in Christ. Jesus is your Propitiation & Expiation. (Romans 3:23-26, 5:9, 8:1; 1 John 1:7-9, 4:10)
3. When you believe you are rejected by God, or concerned with the rejection of man, preach the gospel to yourself that God in Christ now accepts you. You are declared not guilty, accepted in Jesus. Jesus is your Justification. (Romans 3:24, 5:1, 9)
4. When you think you are unloved or are seeking the love of another in an idolatrous way, preach the gospel to yourself that God in Christ has adopted you, and loves you as your Father. Jesus secured your Adoption. (Romans 8:15, Ephesians 1:5)
5. When you feel entrapped by darkness and accused by the enemy, preach the gospel to yourself that God has made you more than a conqueror in Christ. Jesus is your Victory. (Col. 2:13-15, Rom. 8:35-39)
6. When you believe you are spiritually powerless to change (“I can’t help it!”), preach the gospel to yourself that God has made you spiritually alive in Christ. Jesus secured your Regeneration. (Titus 3:5)
7. When you think you are in bondage to sin (“Its just the way I am”), preach the gospel to yourself that God has delivered you from sin’s pow- er in Christ and given you his Spirit. Jesus is your Redemption. (Romans 3:24; Ephesians 1:7)
8. When you believe you are without hope, preach the gospel to yourself that all things will be restored by God in Christ. Jesus secured your Glorification. (Romans 8:30)
9. When you believe you must beat yourself up (self-atone) for you sin, preach the gospel to yourself that Jesus has already been beaten for you. By Jesus’ stripes you are healed. Jesus is your Passover Lamb. (Isa. 53:4- 6; 1 Peter 1:18-19)
10. When you believe your right standing before God is based on your performance, preach the gospel to yourself that Jesus has taken your filthy rags (your righteousness) and given you his righteousness. Jesus is your Gift-Righteousness. (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 3:21-22, 4:4-5)
11. When your lust says “long for what you cannot have and you will be happy.” Listen to your Jesus who says, “rejoice in what you do have, in me, and you will be truly happy.”**
12. When your vanity says, “perform beautifully and you will have value.” Listen to your Jesus who says, “I performed beautifully for you; therefore you have never-ending value.”**
*The Gospel Centered Life by Bob Thune & Will Walker
**Gospel-Centered Discipleship by Jonathan Dodson