Countering Moralism

Probably the most difficult obstacle for ministry I face is moralism.  Despite the obvious declining standard in our culture, licentiousness is not the biggest hurdle. Nor is Biblical and theological illiteracy.  Moralism, which substitutes our becoming good in exchange for God’s grace and glory as the essence and goal of Christianity, is a plague that permeates our area, and even our church.  It is an empty promise; an appealing dead end. Yet, because it is so prevalent, and because it is often the message from pulpits of churches deemed successful, not to mention radio airwaves, it passes as being genuine Christianity.

Richard Lovelace offers this explanation worth considering about the importance of countering this counterfeit Christianity with the power of the genuine and pure gospel:

“Moralism, whether it take the form of denunciation or pep talks, can ultimately only create awareness of sin and guilt or manufactured virtues built on will power.  A ministry which leads to genuine sanctification and growth, on the other hand, avoids moralism, first by making clear the deep  rootage of sin-problems in the flesh so that the congregation is not battling these in the dark, and then by showing that every victory over the flesh is won by faith in Christ, laying hold of union with Him in death and resurrection and relying on His Spirit for the power over sin.  Presented in this context, even the demand for sanctification becomes part of the Good News… Ministries which attack only the surface of sin and fail to ground spiritual growth in the believer’s union with Christ produce either self-righteousness or despair, and both of these conditions are inimical to spiritual life.”

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