“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezek 36:27).

How easily sermons cross over the line from the life-transforming gospel to the same old self-help offered by every world-religion. I have often heard sermons (and am equally guilty of preaching them) that encourage God’s people to become better believers by trying harder, praying more, being more obedient… blah, blah, blah. The problem, however, is that self-help is what condemned us to hell before we put our faith in Jesus, and self-help is no more than carnal living after we put our faith in Jesus.

The gospel, however, is a message fundamentally opposed to try-harder-always-frustrated-never-good-enough spirituality.

Yes, the gospel calls us to a life of God-pleasing obedience, but it does so by giving us internal motivation and supernatural power to make it happen. God puts his Spirit within us to “cause us to walk in his statutes.” Preachers: Beware! If you are preaching “Jesus-less” sermons of “try-harder-spirituality,” you are not only choking the life out of God’s sheep, you are also guilty of opposing the gospel.

“This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal 3:2-3).

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