Not exchanging the gospel for another to-do list.

Many people in our society don’t understand the gospel because they don’t understand the cost of sin. We can do nothing to earn forgiveness because of our sin. The only hope humanity has is the grace of God, freely given to anyone who trusts in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Many don’t understand that, don’t appreciate that, think that they’re basically good enough on their own.

On the other side of the coin, a person can come to faith and have an appreciation for the magnitude of their own sin.

One of the great struggles that Christians can face is making life about performance, even after you acknowledge that the grace is freely given by Jesus.

But we’ll never be good enough on our own. That’s why we needed a savior!

It’s a difficult balance to strike. Because I’m certainly not suggesting that we should just live however we want. We should live for God. But that must be done while also understanding that his love is not based on our goodness or obedience.

When a person places faith in Jesus, you are saved from the sins you have committed and the ones you will commit. Jesus doesn’t just save you from the sins of your past and leave it up to you to figure it out in the future. Jesus saves you entirely, when you place your faith in him.

We can know the forgiveness that we have though the gospel but still fall into the trap of making our relationship with God about our performance. Or acting like God has forgiven you, but like you have to earn his love. That’s not the gospel.

That’s a good way to set a person up for a life that lacks joy and leads to an exhausting (and impossible) cycle of legalism and works based righteousness.

For a Christian, you are adopted as God’s child. You’re his. God loves with an everlasting love. No matter how good you are, you can never make God love you more. Nor can any sin make him love you less.

Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.