Christianity Isn’t Moralism

Rules rubber stamp

Do this. Don’t do that.

Shop here. Don’t shop there.

This is acceptable. That is an abomination.

Is this really what following Jesus is all about?

Don’t get me wrong. Christianity does have a moral code. That’s undeniable.

And that moral code is not popular. Not by a long shot. The Bible is clear that the moral code is contrary to the flesh. By definition it goes against the grain of fallen human nature.

But Christianity isn’t moralism.

The moral code is not the end. It’s only a diagnostic. The Bible calls for rebels against the King of heaven and earth to be reconciled to Him through His Son, Jesus the Christ. The Bible calls for people to turn from their rebellion and live for Him. This means that we stop pursuing the various lusts and impulses of our flesh. It means we start living in obedience to our King. We live for the glory of His name.

The diagnostic helps us to see that we are off track. But living according to some external sort of rules is not the end goal. That was the mistake the Pharisees made. You don’t have to read much of the New Testament to see that Jesus wasn’t a fan of the Pharisees.

They were moralists. They were religious hypocrites.

Is anybody a fan of religious hypocrites?

We must understand the drastic difference between moralism and the genuine call of biblical Christianity. It’s important because the counterfeit of moralism is a disaster for at least two major reasons:

  1. Moralism is deadly to your soul.
  2. Moralism drags God’s name through the mud.

Here’s an example that should help demonstrate the vast difference between genuine Christianity and deadly moralism. I have seven children. Imagine that before leaving the house one morning I say to my oldest son, “Son, before I return home I’d like for you to clean your room.”

Upon returning home I ask my son, “How was your day?”

He responds with the following: “Dad, I had a great day! I cleaned the play room, my sisters’ room, the baby’s room, your room, and the basement. I swept the floors, did all the dishes, took out the garbage, and did two loads of laundry. I did all my homework, read my Bible for two hours, and even walked the neighbor’s dog for them because they were away. All day I didn’t argue with my siblings or complain even once to Mommy. I didn’t hit anybody, spit on the floor, jump on the furniture, or run in the house. Like I said, today was a great day!”

If we fall for the moralism trap then we must conclude that I have the best son in the world. If we view this through biblical Christianity then I have a follow-up question for my son that must be asked.

“Did you clean your room?”

Moralism can hide disobedience and rebellion against God with lists of “good deeds” performed and “bad deeds” avoided. However, the ideal of obedience to the Father shows that the disobedience to the one thing actually asked taints the rest of the activities. Moralism creates a system that allows (or even praises!) “acceptable disobedience” while vilifying “unacceptable disobedience.”

Moralism would teach that this boy was exemplary and praiseworthy. Biblical Christianity would teach that this boy walked in disobedience and rebellion against his father all day long.

See the difference?

Hopefully we all know the great truth that we are saved by grace through faith and not by our works.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Be careful that you don’t think that you were saved to be “nice.” Plenty of unsaved people are nice! You were saved for a reason. Being nice is only part of it.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10, bold added)

Are you walking in the works God prepared for you?

So often people get caught up in what others are doing. You won’t be judged for them. Humans are great at pointing out the mistakes of others. Focus on yourself. Are you walking in obedience to your God today?

Walking in obedience certainly includes living in line with the moral code of Christianity. But never be deceived into covering your rebellion or the rebellion of others with the veil of being nice, civilized, and/or culturally acceptable.

Do you know what God has called you to do?

If you are born-again God has given you a job as an ambassador in His kingdom.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-20, bold added)

Are you walking in the ministry of reconciliation? Are you going to the people God has put in your life? Are you delivering to them the message of Christ and Him crucified? Are you calling them out of death into life by pleading with them to repent and trust in Christ?

We are not called to make people behave a certain way so that God will be pleased with them. We are called to urge people to be reconciled to God through Christ. Once reconciled, they can begin walking in newness of life. Not before. If we reverse the order we are making a mockery of the cross.

One day we will stand before the Lord.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men… (2 Corinthians 5:10-11a, bold added)

Do you know the fear of the Lord? Are you walking with the Spirit in obedience to God? Are you denying your flesh and picking up your cross as you follow Jesus? Or are you walking in the trap of moralism?

Walk wisely.

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