The premise of the book is to think of your life as a long bookshelf. The books on it represent all the things that you do, both spiritual and temporal with titles such as: Church Attendance, Bible Study, Sharing the Gospel, Serving Others, Job Performance, Educational Pursuits, Recreation, Driving the Car, Doing the Laundry, Paying the Bills, to name a few. Without adequate bookends, even if we succeed in getting all our books to remain upright, their stability is precarious at best. The first bookend: The Righteousness of Christ. The second bookend: The Power of the Holy Spirit.
The book goes on to give very thorough explanations of both "bookends". As the authors explain "The Righteousness of Christ", they name two enemies to the Gospel in our lives. They are 1) Self-Righteousness and 2)Persistent Guilt. As they explain these "enemies" they give a couple tools to help examine yourself in these areas. I found it very helpful, so I will take today and tomorrow to post these tools for others reading this blog.
Gospel Enemy #1: Self-Righteousness (pg 48-49)
"Do you sometimes feel as if God's love for you ebbs and flows, depending on whether you've had a good quiet time? Do you know you're saved by grace but live as if God's day-to-day blessings are bestowed in accordance with your performance? Are you beginning to have doubts about the degree of freedom you actually have from the influence of self-righteousness?
Below is our list of probing questions designed to help you gain clarity. As you meditate on them, be brutally honest, for much is at stake. When you analyze your Christian walk:
- Do you tend to live by a list of dos and don'ts?
- Is it difficult for you to respect those whose standards aren't as high as yours?
- Do you assume that practicing spiritual disciplines should result in God's blessing?
- Do you feel you're better than most other people?
- Has it been a long time since you identified a sin and repented of it?
- Do you resent it when others point out your "spiritual blind spots"?
- Do you readily recognize the sins of others but not your own?
- Do you have the sense that God owes you a good life?
- Do you get angry when difficulties and suffering come into your life?
- Do you seldom think of the cross?
If you found yourself answering "yes" to at least half these questions, it's likely you're living under a stronghold of self-righteousness toward God. You need to see this for what it really is--a hideous enemy disguised as a satisfying glory. It will let you down and leave you hanging. Its satisfaction is as short-lived as an ice cube in the blazing sun; its glory has all the appeal of a well-dressed corpse. And at the end of the day this fact remains: no amount of personal performance will ever gain the approval of a holy God."