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The Gospel of the Heart - Author Jim Robbins

Exposing the false gospel that manages externals and sabotages the heart www.robbinswritings.com

The Gospel of the Heart


Exposing the false gospel that manages the externals
and sabotages the heart.

TRY THIS QUIZ:


Do you think the following statements are true or false?

1. T or F The Christian’s heart is just as sinful after becoming a Christian


as before becoming a Christian.

2. T or F The Christian’s heart is a mix of good and bad, sin and holiness.

3. T or F A Christian’s heart is totally good and pure.

4. T or F Christianity is about right behavior and morality.

5. T or F God is interested in fixing us.

6. T or F Jesus’ primary offer to us is the forgiveness of sins.

7. T or F The Church’s job is to get us to act like Christians.

(Answers are at the end of the document.)

The Church in our days has responded with the wrong course of treatment for
our greatest needs. What we call the “Gospel” today (which is the solution to
humanity’s condition) is at best a weakened and impoverished gospel, and at
worst, not the Gospel at all. We have provided the wrong cure. We have
incorrectly treated the disease—with disturbing results: our churches are full
of people who remain enfeebled with shame, guilt and futility. They are
pinned down by the same things they struggled with before becoming
Christians and are anything but restored, free citizens of the Kingdom.
—from Recover Your Good Heart
The Gospel of the Heart - Author Jim Robbins
Exposing the false gospel that manages externals and sabotages the heart www.robbinswritings.com

Recognizing the gospel of behavior–management:


The gospel of behavior-management is often delivered with accusation. Here’s how
you can recognize accusation in church messages or individual conversations:

Warning sign #1: The conversation you’re having with an individual centers around
compliance -- getting you yield to an alleged standard of thought or behavior of some
sort. This could be compliance to church standards of "holiness" or to corporate
standards that determine how things have always been done. Or, this could be
unspoken expectations one picks up from one's family of origin and carries into the
job, the marriage, the parenting. Or, you may have adopted a more healthy set of
expectations, but your family hasn't.

Warning sign #2: The accuser needs to be right-- at the expense of the relationship.

Warning sign #3: Spiritual arrogance masquerading as "love." ("I'm only saying this
because I love you and want what's best for you.") Hmmm...that's not what I'm
picking up here...

Warning sign #4: Fight or flight? You either want to fight or run. You're wounded
and want to place as much distance between you and your accuser as possible, but
you don't want them to get away with it, either. Paralysis? Retaliation? "Feeling
overwhelmed....loosing my spiritual footing."

What about you? What have you experienced when you've been under
accusation's sting?

Additional signs of spiritual behavior-management:


This false substitute I’m calling “spiritual behavior-management” goes by several
monikers: "the religious spirit," "religious legalism," "the gospel of religious duty and
shame," or "living under Law." Whatever its name, it is not what Jesus came to
offer.

All you have to do is look at its fruit: …defeated Christians. Here are some
additional signs that someone (the Church) or another person is trying to manage
your behavior, rather than cooperating with God in the nourishing and releasing of
your good heart: (below)
The Gospel of the Heart - Author Jim Robbins
Exposing the false gospel that manages externals and sabotages the heart www.robbinswritings.com

 You feel spiritual pressure to be a good Christian, rather than confidence that
you are able to live from your new and supernaturally-strong heart.

 The message you’re hearing from church leadership is chiefly about avoiding
sin, rather than indulging the goodness of your new heart.

 Fear of not living up to God’s or others’ expectations is stronger than


your sense of God’s delight in you.

 Fleeting personal transformation, frenzied activity substituting for


apprenticeship at Jesus' side, and a meager affect upon the culture we hope
to transform.

 Spiritual heaviness.

 The deep desires of your heart will feel dismissed and under suspicion.

 You're constantly being asked by leadership to be more committed.

 Every message is about getting you to do something, or to stop doing


something.

 The leadership is more concerned with managing people's sin, than releasing
a new life that is now within them.

 No one ever talks about the heart, and when they do, it is with suspicion --
even in the case of the believer.

What have you experienced when you've encountered this substitute "gospel?"
The Gospel of the Heart - Author Jim Robbins
Exposing the false gospel that manages externals and sabotages the heart www.robbinswritings.com

"True humility is not an abject, groveling, self-despising spirit--it is but a


right estimate of ourselves as God sees us."--Tryon Edwards

"The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself,
but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you
what the real smallness of your greatness is."--Phillips Brooks

Recognizing false authenticity:


Here's a quote from a missional church leader I have a great deal of respect for.
However, notice his self-description: Is it biblical?...meaning, is it a true and accurate
description of his identity in Christ?

I consider myself as the most miserable of all human beings, covered


with sores, foul, and guilty of all sorts of crimes committed against my King;
moved by sincere remorse I confess all my sins to him. I ask him pardon and
abandon myself into his hands so he can do with me as he pleases. Far from
chastising me, this King, full of goodness and mercy, lovingly embraces me,
seats me at his table, waits on me himself, gives me the keys to his
treasures, and treats me in all things as his favorite; he converses with me
and takes delight in my countless ways ....Although I beg him to fashion me
according to his heart, I see myself still weaker and miserable, yet even more
caressed by God.

There's certainly a lot of grace here, but little restoration. (At least, not mentioned
here.) What kind of God would pardon a person, then refuse to change them at the
most basic level (the level of the heart), so that they need not repeat those crimes;
and in fact, no longer have it in their nature to do so?
The Gospel of the Heart - Author Jim Robbins
Exposing the false gospel that manages externals and sabotages the heart www.robbinswritings.com

In fact, God has already met this person's longing to "fashioning me according to his
heart" ..."I will give you a new heart." (Ezek. 36:26). That new heart is pregnant
with new life, new desires, and a new will. How else would he be able to relate well,
if not for a transformed heart? Sure, it will take time to learn to live from that new
and supernaturally good heart -- but that will come.

When religious leaders quote Jeremiah 17:9 --"The heart is deceitful above all
things...,” they fail to realize that this passage was expressing an Old Covenant
reality, not a New one. Remember, there is a progression in Scripture for how God
relates to his people. Our hearts were deceitful and wicked before coming to Christ.
He has now dethroned that old and diseased heart, pushed it aside, and replaced it
with a heart that is pure, holy and noble.

Case-in-point: – “Close, but no cigars:”


Certain things make the hair on the back of my neck bristle. Religious moralism is
one of them.

The pastor of the church where I had previously led a men's event approached me
and said, "Hey. Just wanted to let you know we received a complaint in the office..."
(Neck hair begins to bristle here.)

This was a church where I had led an on-campus men's retreat. As was my custom,
I offered the guys cigars after the session was over. It helps dispel the notion that
Christian guys just don't do that kind of thing, and lets the men know this isn't a
religious thing we're after.

So the pastor of that church went on to say that someone found out we had smoked
cigars (on church grounds) after the event. He said he, "personally didn't have a
problem with that kind of thing" but that it could cause some guys to "stumble."
(Now, I'm not personally aware of a 12-step group for cigar smokers.) I also told him
I never make it an obligation, only an option, for those who want to stay afterwards
and enjoy a cigar and some camaraderie.
The Gospel of the Heart - Author Jim Robbins
Exposing the false gospel that manages externals and sabotages the heart www.robbinswritings.com

The pastor continued by telling me we could go off-campus or to someone's house if


we wanted to enjoy cigars. Well, isn't that gracious and accommodating.

When I, with neck hairs bristling, said this religious moralism was exactly the kind of
thing the world hates about the church, he said, "Well, I have to relate to various
groups of people in the church..." -- meaning, "Even though my personal convictions
tell me there's nothing wrong with this, I'm too timid to confront the Pharisee that
made the complaint."

Ever been in a fellowship or church where this kind of religious moralism became
obvious to you? Would this kind of thing happen if the biblical notion of a believer's
new heart had been taught?

Stunted “grace”
The form of 'grace' we have today is like an asthma patient who's given an inhaler to
relieve their symptoms. The patient is grateful for the new freedom in their lungs, but
the inhaler never cures the asthma: it only treats it temporarily.

I've recently come across an increasing number of very devoted followers of Jesus
who believe in grace primarily as an act of pardon: "You're off the hook, now." And,
they may also believe in grace as the action of God in them to produce goodness
and Christ-like character. But this form of grace will always be stunted, cut short by
their view of the heart.

If the believer's heart hasn't been thoroughly renovated -- no, replaced by the very
heart of Jesus, then this stunted form of grace is actually a cruelty. The resulting
effect of stunted grace goes like this: "You're off the hook now because of God's
grace; and he is indeed working in you to make you more Christ-like; but, because
your heart is still sinful (desperately wicked) and prone to wander, you're probably
not going to do very well at this holiness thing. Why? Because your heart is still
bent on self-will and preoccupied with getting life on its own terms. Try harder next
time (by God's grace) to not let your diseased and corrupt heart get in the way of this
new holiness you're after.
The Gospel of the Heart - Author Jim Robbins
Exposing the false gospel that manages externals and sabotages the heart www.robbinswritings.com

Doesn't this seem a bit cruel to you? The problem with stunted grace is that it
doesn't address the root problem: the heart needs an overhaul, and the rescuing work
of Jesus has to go beyond pardon. It must go straight for the heart. And ....
thankfully, it did.

Is it possible to "love God with all your heart" if your heart remains dark and prone to
wander? Would God ask such a thing of us, knowing it sets us up for failure? "You're
required to love me with your truest self, but you won't be able to. " It's similar to
offering a man on death row a pardon, releasing him from his debt, but then asking
him to function as a healed man in society.

How cruel it would be to expect a man with a shattered leg to climb Everest,
pressuring him to be more committed to the task, admonishing him to have more
faith, all the while knowing he can only do it if his limb is first restored.

First, you heal the man of the disease that sentenced him in the first place, then you
ask him to live the life of Jesus -- out of that restoration.

To be sure, there will continue to be competing desires in a person, for the person's
old heart/nature is still present, yet the believer is clearly a new creation with his
identity firmly secured by his restoration. His new heart is now the center of his
identity.

"God became man to turn creatures into sons;


not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to
produce a new kind of man."
-- C. S. Lewis

What does it mean that we are 'new creations in Christ' if it does not include the
rescue of our hearts? If we first stray with our hearts, we can also (following our
rescue) return with our hearts. The heart is at the center of it all.

"Grace" is the gift of a restored and noble heart.


The Gospel of the Heart - Author Jim Robbins
Exposing the false gospel that manages externals and sabotages the heart www.robbinswritings.com

Quiz answers:
1. T or F The Christian’s heart is just as sinful after becoming a Christian
as before becoming a Christian. False.

2. T or F The Christian’s heart is a mix of good and bad, sin and holiness. False.

3. T or F A Christian’s heart is totally good and pure. True.

4. T or F Christianity is about right behavior and morality. False.

5. T or F God is interested in fixing us. False.

6. T or F Jesus’ primary offer to us is the forgiveness of sins. False.

7. T or F The Church’s job is to get us to act like Christians. False.

For a more full discussion of the issues, here are some resources you can pursue:

More on the heart of Jesus' message:

o Recover Your Good Heart – Living free from religious guilt and the shame of not
good-enough, by Jim Robbins (—available on Amazon.)
Study Guide is also Dvailable on Amazon. Visit Jim's blog: www.robbinswritings.com.