As we’ve been studying Philippians, viewing our lives from a gospel perspective has been a prominent application. As I prepared last Sunday’s sermon, it occurred to me that more instruction in this area would probably beneficial. Sometimes a preacher can get into church-speak mode and forget that not everyone understands every term or phrase he uses. So I’d like to do a series of posts devoted to an explanation of what is meant by being gospel-minded or thinking from a gospel perspective. Further, I’d like to give a number of practical life examples to help you begin to be gospel-minded regarding your life and circumstances.
Thinking from a gospel perspective means looking at the various areas of our lives or the various circumstances of our lives in light of the truths of the gospel. When I’m focused on being gospel-minded, I ask myself, “how should the truths of the gospel shape my thinking in this area?”
To answer that question, we need to be aware of the theological components of the gospel so that we know what truths or tools we have to work with. In the articles of this series, I’d like to give you the bullet points of the gospel that I use. But please understand that many more truths could be added to this list. These points are the bare bones place to start.
God is the holy Creator. The gospel begins with God, not man and his sin. Man and his sin are only rightly understood in the context of a holy Creator God. That God is holy means that He is completely separate from His creation in terms of His moral perfection. God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all (1John 1:5). He is the Most Holy One. In fact, the seraphim around His throne perpetually call to one another, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" (Isa 6:3).
There are at least a couple of truths that flow from the truth that God is our holy Creator. The first is that God has the right to do whatever He pleases. God created all things (Gen 1:1; John1:3), therefore He owns all things (Psa 24:1-2), therefore He has the right to do whatever He pleases with all things (Psa 115:3). A second truth is that God’s holiness is the standard for mankind. Leviticus 19:2 commands, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. This standard is reiterated by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 5:48: You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. The moral commands of the law reflect His holy character. So in our assessment of sin in ourselves and others, we should use His holiness as the standard, not the moral standards of men.
There are any number of ways that this truth of the gospel could be used to shape our thinking on a given issue. Let me give you several examples that might help you apply this truth to your unique circumstances.
A believing man lives with a contentious spouse who pushes him to follow her lead in various matters. He’s tempted to compromise in order to keep the peace. The truth of God’s holiness could shape his thinking in several ways: (1) “God is the holy Creator and His standard alone should guide my role in my marriage. He has called me to lovingly lead my wife, therefore I must do so.” (2) “I cannot compare myself to other men who allow their wives to lead. I must compare myself to the holy standard of God’s Word.” (3) “God created me, therefore He owns me and has the right to guide me. My wife did not create me, therefore her will cannot ultimately guide me. I must love her sacrificially while obeying the Lord.” (This pertains only to areas where a clear moral imperative applies. But in areas of mere preference, he is free to prefer his wife.)
The parents of a teen are struggling to cope with his rebelliousness. How might God’s holiness shape their thinking? (1) “God is holy and morally perfect. We can trust Him to do what is right with our son.” (2) “God is creator of all things, including our son. Therefore, God owns our son. He has every right to do with him as He pleases. And in whatever He does, He is good.” (3) “God’s holiness is the standard for our lives. So of the many ways we could respond to our son, all those that violate His standard are off-limits. We must be holy in our actions and attitudes toward our son.”
A woman is employed by a very difficult person. She is tempted to slander him and to not submit to his authority. God’s holiness could help her think rightly about the situation: (1) “Everyone else’s attitude and behavior toward the boss should have no influence over my attitude and behavior. My standard is the holiness of God, therefore I must work for my employer as unto the Lord.” (2) “God is the holy creator of all things, therefore He has authority over all things. So then, all authority is from Him, even the authority that my employer has over me. To fail to submit to my boss is to fail to submit to God.”
I doubt there is a single issue facing any of us that could not be informed in some way by the truth of God’s holiness with its related truths that He can do what He pleases with His creation and His righteousness is the standard for mankind. I encourage you to choose several different areas of your life and try to determine how God’s holiness can help you think rightly about them. Next time we’ll consider the second bullet point of the gospel: man is sinful.