The Devil's Gospel

The Devil's Gospel

There's a common illustration that does a ghastly disservice to the gospel of Christ. 

It goes something like this: a man is walking down a road. He's headed one direction towards a billboard that says "sin." 180 degrees away—the opposite direction—is a cross or figure of Jesus. The idea is that, to be saved, this man must turn around and walk the opposite way, towards Christ. To turn from his sin and turn to the Lord for salvation. This is commonly described as repentance, and also spoken of as "repent of your sins."

Sounds good, right?

Only, it's unclear (which sins? How many? For how long? At what point would he actually get saved?), inaccurate, and unbiblical. 

Worse, this message could actually keep someone from becoming born again. Here's why.

"But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ....And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works." (2 Cor. 11:3, 14-15)
We are born in sin. 

We are born with a sinful nature. Until we are redeemed by the blood of Jesus our Savior, we do not have the ability to turn from sin. We are children of wrath (Eph. 2:3) who have not yet been adopted as sons and daughters of the Most High God (John 1:12-13, Rom. 8:14-16).

Therefore, sin is not one-directional. It is all around us. North, west, east, south. Above us, below us, as if we are completely submerged in quicksand. Before we are saved, sin is our very essence. 

We literally can't turn from sin. We're swimming in it. It's inside of us. All we can do is cry out for a Savior.

“Forsake your wickedness.”—Modern street preacher. 

When I became saved, I didn’t forsake my wickedness. Instead, God rescued me in the midst of it. I was drowning in it. I could only lay there helpless, flailing in my wickedness, and believe the Scripture that Jesus died for my sin, & call upon the Lord. He promised that this faith would justify me before God. 

None of it was my own doing. The light of His gospel shone on me and He saved me from my wickedness. In His mercy, Jesus delivered me from sin and death. Through His blood, He cleansed me of my sin and gave me His righteousness. (2 Cor. 5:21) He put His Spirit within me and gave me a new heart empowered by Him to grow in faith and holiness. 

When I became saved, I didn’t forsake my wickedness. God rescued me in the midst of it. The light of His gospel shone on me and He saved me from my wickedness. 

The devil would have you believe there's more to getting saved than simply hearing the gospel and believing it. The devil would convince you to turn from your sin first, or at least tell others to. I mean, what's wrong with not sinning? We shouldn't sin, right?

Any gospel message that requires you to turn from your sins for salvation is a false gospel.

Of course we shouldn't sin, and Christians—folks who have been saved—absolutely should walk in the Spirit and forsake wickedness out of love and obedience to God. But this is not how one is saved. And until we have the Holy Spirit with us (our Helper—John 16:7-11), which happens once we become born again, we are powerless and will have no true victory. But making salvation depend upon you turning from your sin is to place you under the law. Sin is transgression of the law (1 John 3:4, lawlessness), and turning from sin means keeping the law. 

This is the gospel of death. Many—MANY—well-meaning folks teach this. Many of our favorite name-brand preachers and teachers are deceiving and deceived. Law-keeping (i.e., turning from sin) does not make someone perfect. Law-keeping (i.e., not sinning) does not make you perfect, righteous, justified or holy in the eyes of God. (Heb. 7:19) As a matter of fact, Scripture plainly and bluntly tells us it does not:

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. Gal. 2:16 
"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." Gal. 1:6-10

Any true and lasting forsaking of wickedness comes from the blood of Christ cleansing you from all sin. And then, the grace of Christ that brings salvation will teach you to live soberly, righteously and godly for the glory of God. (Read Titus 2:11-14.) This only happens once you, by faith, become a born again child of God.

Any gospel message that requires you to repent of your sins for salvation is a false gospel.

The deception is subtle. Please discern! Most use the word "repent" as if it's remorse over sin or confessing your sin. Are we saved by being sorry for sin? Are we saved by confessing our sin? No and no. This is important to understand when evaluating what someone believes. Biblically speaking, repent means a change of mind, a change in the inner man (Greek: metanoia). The word itself is clear: "re" means again, and "pent" (the root word of "pensive") means "think." Repent: think again. Therefore, repentance is certainly necessary for salvation because when you believe the gospel, you've changed your mind from unbelief to belief that Jesus Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead. 

Believe the gospel. Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins. He was buried and rose again the third day. 
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life." John 6:47 
The devil has masterfully obscured the simplicity of the gospel with a buffet of damnable heresies ready at the tap of a screen or the smile of a loving yet errant friend. 

The devil's gospel is any "salvation" message that adds to the simplicity found in the message of Christ crucified. (1 Cor. 1:21-23) We are saved by believing that Christ died for our sins and rose again from the dead. This is literally how we become born again through faith. If anyone comes to you and presents a different salvation message, do not receive it. They are doing the devil's work.