“Lay down your deadly doing.”

I’m nearing the end of Counsel from the Cross, and this is likely my last excerpt from it. Dennis Johnson and Elyse Fitzpatrick have certainly made my blogging easy the last month. This is from one of the final chapters on The Gospel Story verses our own Story of Self Glory.

… many Christians … are “swimming in a sea of narcissistic moralism.” We think we can live happy, perfected lives if we just ferret out the right key to get God to unlock all his treasure and make us healthy, wealthy, and wise. Make no mistake: this moralism—whether for more shallow endeavors such as just having a “good day” or for nobler goals, such as making life better for our families or assuring ourselves that God still smiles on us—is, as Horton writes, narcissistic. It is all about us and all for us and our glory.

Although all true Christians recognize their need for a crucified Savior to begin their life of faith, most of them fall back into their innate belief in self-glorification once they get saved. Whether Happy Moralists or Sad, nearly all Christians believe that the answer to their problem is just around the corner. They will have it once they find the secret to their perfect life, once they throw off that distressing habit, once they find the right spouse/child/job/home/church, once they uncover their idols, once they learn how to pray the magic words, and on and on their whole life through.

The Happy Moralist will read one self-help book after another, while the Sad Moralist will seek deeper and deeper self-understanding and repentance. In fact, we are so proud and convinced of our perfectibility that even living in the light of the gospel can be twisted into a secret self-improvement regimen….

Oh. My. Word. They really nailed it with that last paragraph. The answer to all this? LAY DOWN YOUR DEADLY DOING (your deadly self analyzing and introspection that leads to condemnation and discouragement and your deadly self-discipline that leads to pride and Jesus-less self confidence.)

Utterly despairing of our ability must lead us to Christ and to trust in him to work in us and make us willing and able to serve him (Phil. 2:12). Paul prayed that God would make the Thessalonians “worthy of his calling” and the Lord would “fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:11-12).

All our obedience, every resolve to do good, and every work of faith is “by his power” and so that the Lord Jesus would be glorified because of the grace he gives.

Yes, we must pursue obedience, but that obedience must always be cruciform, formed by Christ’s cross. We must seek to obey because of the cross, find the grace to obey because of the cross, and live free from condemnation whether we succeed or fail in light of the cross. The cross must be our only story, as Paul boldly proclaimed: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (I Cor. 2:2).

The cross must be my only story. I meditate today on what it looks like at each turn of my day to rest in its shadow.

8 Responses to “Lay down your deadly doing.”

  1. He Gives Us Manna October 25, 2010 at 6:42 am #

    Umm AWESOME!!! Jeff preached on something similar today. True joy is resting in our Heavenly Father…not doing our list of good things that will make us happy. Joy can be in the midst of terrible suffering and pain. Because it's from the rest in His Grace and Peace that bring that sort of Joy.

  2. Anonymous October 25, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    This hits a little too close to home. Thanks for your thoughtful blogging. God speaks through it.
    Jennifer in PA

  3. Julie Lamey October 25, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    This is great and goes right in line with what I just read in Elyse's new devotional, “Comforts from the Cross”-it is excellent too!

  4. Kath October 27, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    'your deadly self analyzing and introspection that leads to condemnation and discouragement and your deadly self-discipline that leads to pride and Jesus-less self confidence.'
    wow, followed a link to this sentence and it really packs a punch.

  5. Diane October 27, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

    It's so nice to stumble upon your blog! I love this term “cruciform” – The narcissistic moralist depicted as either a “Happy and Sad Moralist” is a true observation. Those of us in the reformed camp can erroneously lean too hard on the side of self abasement. Good, of course, if it drives us to the foot of Calvary – otherwise it can just be false humility.
    God bless you!

  6. Jessica November 9, 2010 at 4:16 am #

    I read this post lately and it has stuck with me, thank-you. I linked to it on my blog today.

  7. peskyredigers November 9, 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    Wendy – This has stuck with me for several days now – it's hit me straight in the heart and right between the eyes. What is hard for me are these final statements:
    “The cross must be my only story. I meditate today on what it looks like at each turn of my day to rest in its shadow.” I would love for that to be my life…..but I don't understand what it looks like in daily living. I am adopted, I know I am justified through Christ's saving faith and supreme sacrifice to make me righteous, I know he is truly sanctifying me, yet I don't practically know what it means to live out these statements. I must have a blind spot. And I'm willing to admit that if you or any of the other readers here might have examples or methods of understanding that might benefit me in my walk with Christ….HOW do I lay down my deadly doing? (The irony here is in the asking, What do I DO to stop my DOING?)

  8. Wendy November 9, 2010 at 9:51 pm #

    Pesky, the verse that immediately came to mind when I read your comment was from Hebrews 4.

    “10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, …”

    Strive to enter rest — what a paradox. You rightly diagnose the problem with your ironic question — “how DO I stop my DOING?” I think the answer is simple yet profound. Just rest. Open your hands. Let go of your doing. Stop.

    Sometimes, I have to physically open my hands to God in prayer to give Him my burdens and my efforts. Here God. Here are all the things I'm trying to do that I think you want me to do in an effort to earn Your favor and blessing. I'm stopping my doing. I can't earn your favor that way. I stop. I sit down maybe. I envision myself sitting on the spiritual sidelines–putting my feet up and watching the game go by me. But it's ok. It's a rest to which He calls us.

    Then, at some point, I get back up and go love my husband and children and reengage in good works. But it's different. It's PROFOUNDLY different, because I'm at rest in my standing in Him. My righteousness and their righteousness doesn't depend on my good works.