Now let’s be a little more specific in what I mean. I just finished reading a chapter in a book about discipleship, and the chapter encouraged the church (as an organization) to, “Expect the best from believers.” It meant that when the church needed to set demands for its members to meet, and if they did not meet them, they should be condemned. The idea based on studies that showed that, “demand evokes commitment.”
I hate waiting for the end of the book, post, or chapter to find the answer. So, I am going to answer the question. The answer is no, the church should not demand its people to perform. This takes time with people. The church is there to walk people through their problems. The church is there to build each other up, not tear down each other when we fail. Does this mean that we let people live immorally? No, we should talk to them about it, but condemnation is not the answer.
The church, as a whole, has placed so much emphasis on our performance. When new people come and hear our messages they say, “They are all hypocrites.” They call us hypocrites because we have sermons on self-performance when we have no ability in self.
I love what Martin Luther, the protestant reformation leader, had to say about the Law of Moses. He said, “Ay, beloved Moses, I hear that plainly, and it is certainly a righteous command; but pray tell me whence shall I obtain ability to do what, alas, I never have done nor can do?” I know it is a bit wordy because it was written so long ago, but if I can translate, he is saying is the Law demands from bankrupt man, and it does not lift a finger or give the ability to keep or fulfill the law. We cannot look to the law as if it helps us. It does not help at all. If anything it makes it worse.
“Ridiculous! God gave us the law to keep us from immorality!”
Now, what does the Bible say? Why did the law come? The Bible says, “God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were” (Rom. 5:20) (NLT). I am not interested in people’s opinions about why God gave the law; all I need to know is what the scripture say. 1 Corinthians 15:56 says that, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” The power of sin is not in grace, it is in the law. Does that mean that the law is useless? No, it is meant for it’s purpose, to bring us to Christ. So requirements do not make us better people because if they did, then Israel would have been very moral, but they were not.. Only the cross can change our behavior.
The ability is IN Christ; when we demand from bankrupt man to preform, it is a lost cause, but if we can preach more messages about how we love because he first loved us, we will see people doing great things for God. Paul never said in his letters to the churches, “Husbands, Love you wives,” period. He wrote, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25). Notice the difference? Christ is the reason we do things. We don’t do good works to receive God’s blessing, but we do good works because God has already given us blessings, freely.
So, should the church demand that people preform or else? No, the church is here to help people get out of the power of sin. Grace is the power to overcome sin. Praise the Lord.
57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).
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