Preach the gospel to yourself. That is a buzz that is flying around in evangelical circles as of late. I would like to quickly answer what it means and then provide a few reasons why we should preach the gospel to ourselves.
What it means?
Preaching the gospel to yourself simple means that you remind yourself of all that takes place in the gospel. Before we can preach the gospel to ourselves we have to understand the gospel message.
The gospel tells us that we are sinners, who are headed for eternal destruction because our relationship with God is severed due to our sinfulness. Instead of allowing our relationship to remain severed, God made a way for mankind to be reconciled with Himself. When we believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, we are united with Him. Through our union with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection we are made righteous as our sin is imputed to Him and His righteousness is imputed to us (double imputation), and at this time we are freed from the bondage of sin giving us a choice to not sin. When we take on Christ’s righteousness our relationship with a perfect and holy God is restored because we are made perfect and holy. This all occurs because of the free gift of God (grace) and not because of anything that we have done, which would earn His gift of salvation (not by works).
Preaching the gospel to ourselves simple is a way of reminding ourselves of the truths of the gospel message.
Reasons Preaching the Gospel to Ourselves is Necessary
(1) Preaching the gospel to ourselves reminds us that our relationship with God satisfies us more than any sin.
Sin will satisfy, it is why we do it. But it will not completely satisfy us, and its after effects often leave us feeling empty, ashamed, and lost. Christ is unlike any sin, He will satisfy us for all of eternity. He will never let us down, nor will He ever leave us feeling empty, ashamed, or lost. He will bring us joy that far exceeds the joy we can gain from any sinful action. When we sin, we are in essence saying that God is not sufficient enough, and what we are going to get from our sin is far better than God. However, when we preach the gospel to ourselves, we remind ourselves that we are ultimately satisfied in God and nothing else.
(2) Preaching the gospel to ourselves reminds us that we are accepted by God’s free grace.
God has accepted us by grace alone, not because of our works. Since God has not accepted us based on our works, then we do not have to perform works in order to keep His grace. This means we obey God’s commands not to earn His grace, but we obey out of His grace. When we are saved, God empowers us to live the Christian life (Philippians 2:13). He changes our desires (will) and enables us to obey His commands by empowering us to serve Him. Thus, we serve Him not to earn His grace, but out of His grace.
By reminding ourselves of our salvation, we remind ourselves that we cannot earn His favor, nor our salvation. Those who believe they have to do something in order to earn acceptance with God, do so because functionally they are trying to be their own Savior. They do not understand Christ has made them holy already. You see, our sanctification is based on our justification. When we try to gain acceptance with God through our actions, we are living like our justification is determined by our sanctification. Preaching the gospel to ourselves serves to remind us that God’s grace is free, not earned.
(3) Preaching the gospel to ourselves reminds us that we are free to live our righteousness out.
When we are saved, we are united with Christ, and we are made righteous through that union with Christ. Preaching the gospel to ourselves reminds us of our union with Christ and reminds us that we are free to live our righteousness out. In other words, we do not have to first earn our righteousness, we are already righteous, and, as such, we are able to live as Christ now.
Think of it this way: In Christ, we are full, meaning we do not have to fill ourselves up with righteousness like we would a gas tank. We are already full and we will forever remain full. We do not have to pull into the service station to top our righteousness tank off. Our tank never drops below full. Since we are always running on a full tank, we never have to fill up our tank by earning our righteousness. Since we do not have to earn our righteousness we can freely give to others. The reason we freely give is not to earn God’s righteousness, but because God has freely given to us.
However, when we work for our righteousness or feel we have to pay God back for saving us by being obedient, we are not living our righteousness out; rather we are evoking a debtor’s ethic.
The debtor’s ethic says I must give or do because God has given to me.
To help us understand this concept lets look at an area the debtor’s ethic is often evoked. One area the debtor’s ethic is often used is by those who want to manipulate others into evangelizing the lost. They tell us, “Christ died for you on the cross, the least you can do is tell someone about Him.” On the surface this sound good, but the underlying principle is that we are to tell others about Christ because we owe God for saving us and evangelism is a way we can pay Him back.
However, the gospel tells us that we can freely live our righteousness out. When applied to evangelism, it means we tell others about Christ, not because we owe God something, but because we want them to experience the same relationship with Him that we do. We want them to understand that the Savior is the only one who can truly satisfy, making Him better than any sin or idol.
You see the difference. One group evangelizes because they feel they have to, showing they do not understand God’s grace. The other group evangelizes because they want others to experience the grace of God, knowing that He satisfies us more than any sin will ever satisfy us. Preaching the gospel to ourselves reminds us of God’s grace and frees us to live out our righteousness.
(4) Preaching the gospel to ourselves reminds us that God is most glorified when we are happy in Him and only in Him.
We can strive to live lives that resemble Christ, not to earn God’s salvation or approval, but simple to please Him and glorify Him. You see, God is most glorified and pleased when we are happy in Him believing He is sufficient for us and that we need nothing other than Him (ie sin) to satisfy us. When we preach the gospel to ourselves, we remind ourselves of this truth.
(5) Preaching the gospel to ourselves reminds us of the magnitude of our sins, which brings about true repentance.
When we meditate on the gospel, we are reminded that Jesus died for our sins. In order to die for our sins, He left His throne in heaven, took on the form of a man, was beaten, mocked, and led to the cross where He died in our place.
With this in mind, we see that the gospel reminds us of the heinousness of our sins, it reminds us that our sins are so great that only the perfect sacrifice of God’s Son could atone for them.
When we understand the magnitude of our sins, and their cost, we are reminded that our sin should not be minimized. To minimize our sin proves that we do not understand the costliness of Christ’s sacrifice, nor do we fully understand the holiness of God. Preaching the gospel to ourselves serves as a daily reminder of the magnitude of our sins, which then serves to bring about true repentance.
When we understand the costliness of our sins, we are less likely to confess our sin quickly, in order to deal with our guilt; rather we are more likely to root sin out of our lives.
If we are quick to confess our sin, in order to alleviate our guilt, then we believe grace is cheap.
However, if we are willing to dig deep into our lives to root our sin out at the core, in order to truly cast it from our lives, we show that we understand the cost of our sins. True repentance understands the magnitude of sin and seeks to deal with it at the core.
True repentance also shows that we understand God’s grace and His holiness. We understand His grace releases us from the bondage of sin and His holiness means He is unable to be wed to an unholy people. Those who are truly repentant are motivated to repent not to earn God’s favor, but to glorify God. We glorify God when we delight in Him rather than in our sin and live lives that reflect His holiness. Our motivation for change is subtle but nevertheless it is a different motivation for change than what the religious/legalist puts forth. Preaching the gospel to ourselves serves to remind us of the magnitude of our sins, as well as it is a catalyst for true repentance.
Since we are naturally drawn to doing something in order to earn what we are given, we must constantly remind ourselves that what God has given us is free. We must also remind ourselves that God is far better than sin for if we do not we will easily succumb to its enticing lure. Furthermore, we must remind ourselves on a daily basis that God satisfies us more than sin could ever satisfy us. Moreover, we must constantly remind ourselves of the costliness of our sin, which should serve to spur us onto true repentance. Lastly, we must remind ourselves that God is most glorified when we are happy in Him believing He is sufficient to satisfy us. Preaching the gospel to ourselves reminds us of all the things mentioned here and is why it is a necessity. This means that preaching the gospel is not solely reserved for non-believers, but for believers as well. May we never forget that the gospel is not only a message that provides us entrance into God’s kingdom, but sustains us and helps us to live within His kingdom.