Al Mohler, always helpful and insightful, posted an article last week on the difference between the gospel and moralism – and the way many Christians mistake the latter for the former. Here’s a snippet:
Writing about his own childhood in rural Georgia, the novelist Ferrol Sams described the deeply-ingrained tradition of being “raised right.” As he explained, the child who is “raised right” pleases his parents and other adults by adhering to moral conventions and social etiquette. A young person who is “raised right” emerges as an adult who obeys the laws, respects his neighbors, gives at least lip service to religious expectations, and stays away from scandal. The point is clear — this is what parents expect, the culture affirms, and many churches celebrate. But our communities are filled with people who have been “raised right” but are headed for hell.
It is imperative that we remember that the goal of Christianity, always and above all else, is not nice people but new people. Moralism exalts, encourages, and produces nice people; the gospel produces new people. Which is why Mohler goes on:
We are justified by faith alone, saved by grace alone, and redeemed from our sin by Christ alone. Moralism produces sinners who are (potentially) better behaved. The Gospel of Christ transforms sinners into the adopted sons and daughters of God.
The whole post is worth your time. You can find it here.