Good person or Christ = basis of self-worth

By Dave Henning / January 29, 2022

“If our self-worth is based on being a good person rather than on Christ, then we will, like Peter, may not be able to admit or confess our sins.  The more we know Christ’s love, the easier it will be to confess our sin, and the more we confess our sin, the more precious and wonderful the grace of Jesus will become.” – Timothy Keller

Timothy Keller continues Chapter 8 of Hope in Times of Fear as he talks about commonly mistaken conclusions people make when they first hear about the growth process described by Paul.

Common Mistake #1 – to equate ‘killing sin’ with saying ‘no’ to wrong behavior.  Or merely repenting and asking forgiveness for our sins.  Certainly, Christians should do both of those.  However, the growth process must go much deeper.  To identify habits of the heart and patterns of the mind that dispose you to sin – background attitudes.

Pastor Keller explains:

“Whatever we set our hearts on as a substitute for Jesus and his salvation will determine how we feel and how we act.  To kill off inordinate desires . . . is to identify and weaken the sinful roots and structures of our heart so our particular heart sin patterns won’t keep reasserting themselves.”

Common Mistake #2 – to think ‘setting the heart’ means working hard to live as we should.  Again, this stresses behavior rather than dealing with the heart.  Therefore, we need to set the deepest desires of the heart on Jesus.  As a result, Jesus replaces the idols in the deep recesses of your heart.  This provides an antidote to your negative emotions.  Thus, that makes you much less likely to fall into sin.

Common Mistake #3 – to make yourself feel guilty, to beat yourself up about how bad you are to shame yourself into better behavior.  However, ‘worldy sorrow’only makes you worse.  Because once sin’s consequences go away, sin continues to entangle you.  For you’re more upset about the results of sin than the sin itself.  Hence, you won’t change.

But with ‘godly sorrow,’ you feel the painful conviction of sin, yet know God will never forsake you.  So, you hate the sin that dishonors Christ.  Instead of hating yourself.

Today’s question: Good person or Christ?  Where do you place your self-worth?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The character of God – a paradigm”

About the author

Dave Henning

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