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Great posts! I can't wait till we get out of the grips of despair here and move along the Gospel! Oh, the anticipation. :o)

Despair was your reaction to the Law. The other dangerous reaction, as you know and have seen, is self-righteousness-- the belief that we really can sufficiently do it if we try hard enough. After all, God would never had commanded anything we couldn't do, right? My husband tells of a friend of his in the Holiness movement who was convinced that now that he was "in," he didn't sin anymore. My husband knew this guy and knew better. After questioning him a bit over things like breaking the speed limit, it was clear that the guy didn't consider those things to be "really" sin! In order to maintain this false front of perfectionism and the "victorious life," he was having to resort to dishonesty and self-deception.

And all these books that give us a manageable little set of steps and principles in order to please God, keep his Law, and be "real" Christians are likewise leading people into ultimate despair or false security: places where the Gospel is not welcome.

Kirby L. Wallace

By coincidence, I've been writing on the same subject:


Hope you like it...

Theresa K.


I love the title of this post: Despair. It is an apt description of the state of being of many evangelicals, fundamentalists and pentecostals. Despair that they will never be good enough for God.

My book was Happiness is a Choice (by Minirth and Meier). I must have at least half of that book highlighted! I keep it and a few of the other law-based books I used to study on my bookshelf. I used to make lists of all the things I need to do in order to please God and therefore be happier. Not that there is anything wrong with lists or trying to be discplined, but without the grace message that none of us can ever please God nor be good enough for God the lists just provide more guilt for Satan to bind us with. I believe that Satan loves it when Christian despair.

Frank Marron

Chris, these are good posts! The true Gospel, which is usually hidden from believers under huge piles of legalism, is that Christ is our Substitute. What we never could do perfectly, He did forusin our stead. The modern American mind cannot accept this substitutionary message. Perhaps you could touch on this a bit in a post?

Steve Lownes

Good post Chris. I worked at Focus on the Family, too, during the Arcadia, Monrovia and Pomona Years. It was ugly. I went through exactly what you went through. I married a woman from Focus and she later divorced me because God told her to. I became "Unspiritual" after converting to Lutheranism and going to a "dead church" I think were her words. Anyway great post. Keep it up.


Thanks for a great post.. It's necessary to hear the law explained / expounded, and I must say I'm looking forward to the grace part! :)

God bless you brother.

Larry Hughes KY

This is spot on the money. I became a Christian late in life by a strong proclamatin of Christ crucified but lost him in my SB training. But it sounds the same. At one point I contemplated ending it all but only the fear of not knowing restrained me. I though, if I'm lost, no need running to the gallows. But 'death' seemed to be a relief from the doubt and struggles with sin. And not the external peccadilos, the real internal that I felt very sharply, "I don't love God". But you'd never confess that in such churches for fear of being hung. In fact it would shock them so much they wouldn't know how to respond, "you don't love God." They don't grasp that problem.

You throw in the baptism issue, did I have faith before or not, and what were/are the signs of this and I went WELL beyond navel gazing. I would analyze and rack myself inwardly to the nth degree trying to see if what I did was faith, right down to the last blasted detail.

I went to promise keepers, spent hours in prayer, this help group that help group, rededicate, walk the aisle, give all this time. But immediately afterward it would come, "did you really give all, surely not."

No absolution whatsoever, no Gospel. If a man stares into the Law long, if the Gospel doesn't come he must fall away for the searing Law of God forces one to flee the God of wrath by either denying the full strength of the law by some form of "I can do it and have" OR denying God out right. Nitchze did this very thing. He looked into the Law of God and sans the Gospel concluded as only man can, not being able to stand the searing truth, "It must not be true, I don't see my ability to do it." From there the Quintessential atheist is birthed.



Galatians 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
Gal 3:25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

The Law's purpose was to differentiate the Israelites from the rest of the world. To show that their God was different from the pagan gods. The Law pointed toward Christ and only He was able to keep the Law -- nobody else ever has.

Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

People today seem to forget the last five words in this verse -- it is through faith that a person is saved and faith alone.

Mat 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Think about "being perfect" in a slightly different manner -- "perfect" as in mature or finished. While believers are in their vessels of flesh, they should strive for maturity in Christ, but recognize that they are carnal creatures. Even Paul recognized his sinful state, but he did not despair. Instead he kept pressing forward, repentant and seeking God's forgiveness.

Heb 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, (21) Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

So can a believer in Jesus Christ be perfect? Yes, as long as he or she is Spirit led. Are believers perfect? No, because they do succumb to their flesh. Believers do not have to sin, but they do choose to sin. But God is a God of grace and mercy and forgives those who are repentant (1 John 1:9). The Holiness movement deceives people and those who say they do not sin, deceive themselves -- see 1 John 1.

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