"Nice" Is Not Enough


Photo by Quinn Buffing on Unsplash

Paul often writes against false gospels in his letters to different churches. And sometimes the half-truths can be more dangerous than the outright lies. Will you pray with me this week against the subtle false gospel of Moralism? Moralism says that if you're a nice person you will get into heaven. Sounds familiar right? Many people who call themselves Christians believe this subconsciously or otherwise. It's especially easy to accidentally teach Moralism instead of the true Gospel to children if all we ever teach them is, "let's all try to be good and brave like David from the Bible". Many people who aren't Christians believe it too. Just think of all the people you know who might say, "Oh, I'm not really religious, but I try to be a nice person and that's what really matters at the end of the day, right?" What is so wrong with Moralism then? The Bible says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23). God's standard for heaven is actually not "niceness", but to get into heaven you actually need to be perfect. How many times have you lied in your life? Have you ever been rude to your parents? Have you done something nice but was actually selfishly motivated by approval from others? Have you ever harboured jealousy or resentment in your heart? I have failed all four of these questions. If you didn't fail any of the above, check out Matthew Chapter 5-6 for more descriptions of what God's standard of perfection is. We may we "nice" on the outside but God who sees the depth of our hearts sees that we're not perfect. If we're allowed to bring our lying, rude, selfish, resentful hearts then heaven would be ruined. The standard cannot be lowered.  There's one other issue with Moralism. In the crowdfunded TV series The Chosen, the character of Nicodemus teaches people to be more than just "nice" they have to be good. But as he confronts a demon-possessed woman that he can't help, he starts to doubt whether Moralism is really powerful enough, loving enough for a God who claims to be both. If only good people can go to heaven, then this woman is trapped, she can't be good, she can't even be "nice", even if she wanted to. Perhaps God will have mercy if you at least get to "nice", but what hope is there for those who lack the ability or desire to even become "nice"?  What's the solution then? There is only one person who has ever met the real standard of perfection: Jesus. He is the only one who deserves to go to heaven (in fact he never needed to leave heaven). But in God's love for us, God the Son and God the Father agreed that the Son would come to earth and take the punishment in hell that we deserve so that we could have the heaven that Jesus deserved. It is the greatest offer that will ever be made to you. And what good news for us who can only ever be "nice" but never perfect! And what good news for those who don't even meet the "nice" standard and are trapped! Moralism is false security for "nice" people and hopelessness for the rest; but the true Gospel offers every person the same chance to say "yes" to trading places with Jesus, as well as being filled with the Holy Spirit's to become new people being transformed into perfection from the inside out.

©2019 by Croydon Hills & Wonga Park Anglican Church.

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