Friday, June 22, 2012

Self-validation: The New Gospel

THIS is the Condemnation

I had mentioned previously how the CD player in our car is broken and, as a result, we have been listening more to the radio.  As we do, it is becoming increasingly apparent that much of the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) and Gospel scene is nothing short of poison.  The music is often so unbiblical that I have to literally turn it off because it offends the Holy Spirit within me.

It makes me wonder, "What is worse?  Downright raunchy, profanity-ridden secular music or 'Christian' music which promotes 'another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel'?  Which is more damning?  To be an outright sinner or a hypocritical Christian?"  Jesus would say it is the latter (Matthew Chapters 6 and 23).

My children would often be bewildered when I turned the station.  In their eyes, if it is on a "Christian" radio station then it must be "Christian" music.  So I told them, "You know, this is not Praise & Worship music."  When they asked what the difference was, I had to consider that myself.

What was it that was so offensive about much of what was being played on the radio?  While perhaps not a technical definition, I told them, "Praise & Worship focuses on the Lord: His majesty, His mercy, His grace, His power, etc.  It glorifies Him.  Most of this music on the radio focuses on man and what God can add to man."  In a nutshell, one comes from a place of God-consciousness and the other self-consciousness.

Quite honestly, I have never heard such gobbledygook & psycho-babble as what is being passed off as the truths of God in music these days.
There could never be a more beautiful were made with such care your skin your body and your hair are perfect just the way they are.

You gotta believe that you are someone worth dying for...You're worth it, you can't earn it. Yeah, the cross has proven, that you're sacred and blameless.

Everything that I see draws me...How do I sense the tide that's rising? De-sensitizing me from living in light of eternity...Lord what we gon do,We're relying on you...Lord forgive us when we get consumed by the things of this world.
He is with you when your faith is dead and you can't even get out of bed or your husband doesn't kiss you anymore. He is with you when your baby's gone and your house is still and your heart's a stone.
Tonight’s the night, for the sinners and the saints, two worlds collide in a beautiful display. It’s all love tonight when we step across the line. We can sail across the sea to a city with one king.
When a heart is cold as ice, you can't melt it with advice. No one wants to listen to a list of things they shouldn't do. So I build a city on a hill and I light a candle on the sill. Knowing you'll be always knocking at the door. Oh God I just want to love on everyone.
Some might look at these lyrics and say, "What's the big deal?"  I say it is a subtle, subversive attack of the enemy to make us believe that Christianity or even salvation is all about us.  It is a deceptive promotion of humanism as Christianity.

humanism: any system or mode of thought or action in which human  interests, values, and dignity predominate.

The BIG truth of which many Christians are ignorant is that salvation and indeed even our creation by God is not primarily about us (Revelations 4:11)!  We are not the center of God's world; His ways and His will do not revolve around us.

Believe it or not, this is a shocker for many people - even professing believers!  Too many people falsely believe that God created man so that He can sit back and enjoy granting our every desire like a big Sugar Daddy in the sky.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  We were created to accomplish God's purposes in the earth and until we realize that, then we will keep a self-centered (and erroneous) view of God.  I will be going into this more as I continue posting sections of the book, but I feel that I must address this here as well as it relates to the false views of salvation permeating the landscape (as reflected in much of the music).  Look again at the lyrics quoted above.

Are we perfect just the way we are or is God perfecting us to be more like the One who is perfect (Matthew 5:48; Romans 8:29; Titus 2:11-14; I Peter 5:10)?  Do we have to validate our image of ourselves & our physical appearance in this world before we can appreciate who we are in God?  Are we not encouraged to consider all in this world - and even our own lives - as dung so as to win Christ (Psalm 51:5; Isaiah 64:6; John 12:25; Philippians 3:8; I Peter 3:3-4)? 

Did Jesus die for us because we were "worth it" or did He die for us while we were lost in sin and the enemies of God (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:20-21)?  Does the cross "prove" that we are sacred and blameless or does the cross provide a way for us to become sacred and blameless (I Corinthians 1:8; II Corinthians 7:1; Philippians 2:14-16; I Thessalonians 4:3-7, 5:23; I Timothy 3:10; I Peter 1:13-16; II Peter 3:14)?

Is it normal for everything we see in the world to "draw" us or are we called to mortify our members on the earth so that the lusts of this world do not draw us? Are we to just depend on the Lord and His forgiveness when we allow ourselves to be consumed with the things of this world or does He tell us to sanctify ourselves so that we are not consumed (Genesis 19:15-17; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 5:26-27; Colossians 3:1-2, 5-7; I Thessalonians 5:23; James 4:4; I John 2:15-16)?  What is impetus behind, and outcome of, being "drawn" after that which is unGodly and is it possible not to be so drawn (James 1:12-16)?

What does it mean for God to be "with us"?  God is everywhere; He even shows grace and mercy to those who are His enemies (Matthew 5:45).  God's faithfulness is surely not dependent upon the things of this life.  However, His being faithful does not mean that we can walk around in dead faith or with stoney hearts as we are also called to be faithful to Him (Luke 19:17; John 14:15; Romans 12:1; I Corinthians 4:2; James 2:17-26; Jude 1:3; Revelation 2:10, 17:14).  God is always faithful, it is man who is not.

Is God bringing "sinners and saints" into a "beautiful" collision as they are all brought together in service under one King (Joshua 24:15; Luke 16:13; Romans 6:16-19, 8:5-8; James 4:4)?  Is the definition of "love" to eradicate the "line" that distinguishes sinners and saints or is this even a line which will be acted upon by God Himself at the Judgment Throne (Matthew 3:12; 13:30, 25:32-41)?

Is it "love" to not tell people about sin (Proverbs 17:15; Isaiah 5:20; Malachi 2:17; Matthew 6:23; Luke 11:35)?  What does Scripture say about those who despise correction (Proverbs 1:30, 10:17; 12:1, 13:1, 15:10; John 3:20)?  Does Jesus promise to always be knocking at the doors of our hearts (Jeremiah 7:26, 11:14; John 17:9; Romans 1:24-28; II Thessalonians 2:10-12)?

I am asking you to step away from the nice melodies & the inspirational words (as well as any idolatry of the artists themselves) to take a BIBLICAL look at the messages being portrayed.

Salvation is not about how you feel about yourself, what has happened to you or even what you have doneJesus is not the means to help you feel good about yourself.

We must get our eyes off of ourselves if we are to ever truly walk in fellowship with the Lord.  In the world, fallen man is completely self-conscious; driven by what he likes, what he wants, what he thinks...  We live our lives for ourselves and then we bring this attitude into salvation and call it "Christianity".

You can discern this mindset even in how people talk about coming to faith in Jesus Christ.  They will make comments such as, "My problem was that..."
  • I was never loved
  • I never forgave myself for things I have done
  • I never felt accepted by others
  • I never fit in anywhere
  • I never thought I was beautiful
They then turn to Jesus as a means to "right" those perceived wrongs.  They seek Jesus because He will love me, He will accept me, He will forgive me, He will see me as beautiful...Me, Me, Me, Me, Me.  While it is true that Jesus loves us, forgives us, accepts us...the purpose of His coming was not to sign-off on our self-image.

The revelation of salvation is not that we can now finally be somebody, but the realization that we are in fact nothing apart from Him.  It is not to finally believe that we are worth something, but to understand that He alone is worthy.  It is not to be convinced of our own beauty & greatness, but to perceive how wretched & small we are in comparison to One so holy & mighty.

Let's not deceive ourselves.  The reason people don't come to Jesus is not because they don't have a positive view of themselves.  According to the Scriptures, there is only one reason why men do not to turn to faith in Christ:

"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." John 3:19-21

THIS is the condemnation: we loved darkness more than light.

Your problem (and mine) was not that you were mistreated & abused in the world.  It was not that we were searching for love, but unable to find it.  Our problem was that we loved darkness more than light.  Unless we are prepared to deal honestly with that love for darkness, then Jesus will never be more than a "Dr. Phil" for many.  He will be a tool to help me be happy with me, love me, and be content with me.  He becomes the way towards self-validation because we falsely believe that learning to love ourselves is the "greatest" love of all.  Such is delusion for appealing to man's self-worth will not lead them to repentance from sin.

Notice however that anyone then who speaks of sin or repentance becomes the enemy to that type of message.  Instead of showing the way of righteousness, the Christian is supposed to simply embrace all and "show love" by leading people to believe that they are fine just the way they are. 

No song seems to make these issues more clear then one by Casting Crowns entitled, "Jesus, Friend of Sinners."  We have written before about the errors in promoting Jesus as a friend to sinners, but what also comes across in this song is how this message makes the real Christian out to be the obstacle to another's salvation.  The things which God commands us to do become those things which are considered "unloving".  In order to show love according to this thinking, we must turn a blind eye to sin.

I have loved a number of Casting Crown's songs and have often posted them here, but again I ask: truly examine these lyrics.  Is this the Gospel message? And if not, then what is being promoted here?  My comments appear in brown below.
Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth's become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they're tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I'm so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

[Who is the "we" who have strayed so far from God and are cutting people down?  Is this supposed to represent all Christians?  While I agree that the word of God can be used unrighteously, is there not a rightful use of the sword to cut between that which is soulish and that which is spiritual in order to make plain the way of righteousness (Habakkuk 2:2; Psalm 149:6; Isaiah 30:21, 49:2-3; Acts 2:37; Ephesians 6:17; II Corinthians 2:17, 4:2, 10:4-5; Hebrews 4:12)? 

Is the "truth" that the "world" is really on its way to Jesus, but being tripped up by those who serve Him (Matthew 7:13-14; John 15:19, 17:9; I John 2:15-16, 3:1)?  Is the main calling of Jesus' disciples to make sure that they don't get in the way of the "world's" salvation or is it to preach the Gospel?  Are all Christians double-minded, hypocrites?  To whom does God command to clean their hands; is it the saint or the sinner (James 4:8)?  Who does God really command not to judge, and why?]

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours

[It is unmerciful and hard-hearted to point out sin (Matthew 9:13; Luke 5:32; II Peter 3:9)?  Is God's heart broken about sin or does He have righteous indignation about it (Psalm 7:11; Nahum 1:2-3; Romans 1:18; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6; Revelation 14:10)?]

Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who's writing in the sand
Made the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of these
Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees
Nobody knows what we're for only what we're against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did

[Did the "righteous" turn away from condemning the woman caught in adultery or was it the "self-righteous" (the scribes & Pharisees)?  Isn't there a difference between the two?  Did Jesus' "love" mean He ignored sins or did He tell people to "go and sin no more"?  When Jesus & His disciples brought the reality of man's sin to light, were they "judging the wounded" (Matthew Chapter 23; Mark 11:17; John 4:16-29, 5:14; Acts 2:14-37, 6:8-7:54)?]

You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they're the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

[Yes, Jesus came for those who were lost and leprosy in Scripture is symbolic of sin.  However, Jesus didn't just leave lepers in that condition.  Neither did He just overlook their leprosy and pretend it wasn't there or that it didn't matter.  Jesus healed their leprosy (Matthew 8:3, 10:8, 11:5; Mark 1:42l Luke 5:12-13, 7:22, 17:12-19)!  He will do the same with our sin, cleansing us from it and giving us victory over it so that we are no longer lepers; or as the Scriptures say, no longer "unclean" (Leviticus 13:3-59, 14:44-57, 22:4).  If we are still unclean lepers after having come to Jesus, then we have not yet been healed, delivered, saved; we need to be born again.]
Jesus is not out to make us "feel good", but to change our hearts and minds so that we can be like Him and do the works His Father has commanded of us.  It is only when our eyes are on Him that we can have a right self-image because in Him is where our identity is found (Acts 17:28).

The way that Jesus heals the brokenhearted is by giving us a new heart: one not focused on ourselves.  The way that Jesus heals our wounds is by getting our focus off of them so that He can work through us to tend to the wounds of others.  Let us never use the Gospel or a right relationship with Jesus Christ as a psychological crutch to prop ourselves up or make us feel better about our existence in this world.

Even in our "salvation", are our eyes on ourselves or on Jesus?

UPDATE: Brother Seeker_of_Truth has recommended the following video by Min. David Wilkerson called, "Counterfeit Christianity", so I am posting it here for your edification.


  1. Looks like you're gonna need to get your CD player fixed pretty soon, LOL. I too have found nothing worth listening too via radio or Youtube. I've resorted to scripture memory songs that don't rhyme, or old school hymns that speak the truth. BTW Zac Poonen just released a few that are decent. But on the real: Paul said to make up our on songs to God, I've made one so far.

    The last part of your message is very helpful to me - it reminds me to keep the focus on him and not make Jesus into a helpmate when we are simply branches and He is the vine.

    1. Hi Neal! What do they say, "Silence is golden?" LOL It may be silence long before that CD player is fixed as it is very low down on the list of things which must be done. :-) However, your comments are interesting. Maybe we could work on creating our own songs? The kids had already started doing this as part of something to do over the summer, so why not make praise & worship songs?

      I didn't know Pastor Poonen released music, so I will surely look into that. Our favorites as a family are the Scripture Memory songs too! We used to post recommendations about music on the message board, so I will post a link here in case that helps others: Music Recommendations

      I tell you brother, the more I work on this book, the more I realized how skewed our thinking often is when it comes to how we perceive ourselves and God. There is a great work God is doing in the earth, and while we are certainly a part of that, it is not "about us" per se.

      God Bless you brother!

  2. I've noticed this abomination as well. If you haven't heard this sermon, check it out and may it bless you. Keep pressing and stay encouraged in the faith...

    1. Thank you for this brother. God help us. My thought was to play this video as I am cleaning around the house, but I cannot. I cannot pull away, but must sit down and listen. I am sure this message will be a blessing to many. Thank you so much.

      I have updated the article to post this as well.

      May God strengthen you!

  3. I've been thinking about this very subject a lot, and this blog confirms many things that I've seen and heard over the past few decades concerning this "selfish gospel". It is so deceptive! But as long as our focus is on truly changing into the image of Christ, by dying to our own selfish will and desires, He will come alive in us, and our lives will truly change. The nature of Christ in us is something that will never exist or grow if we don't kill pride and self-conciousness regularly. Thanks so much for posting this :)

    I've been reading your blog for quite some time now (not quite a year) and it has completely changed my life. Keep doing what you do for Christ. It's amazing how many lives will be touched.

    1. Hi Keya,

      We must die to our own will, our own lives. As you say, this is not just for those mentioned in the article. It is a daily reality that we must each walk in. I know that God will give us the will to do it as we keep our eyes on Him. It is that old man's nature to view everything from the point of "self". I personally must fight against this, I guess we all do. We must each deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Him. There is power in this way of living though Sister!

      May God's power abide in and on you to do His will.

  4. I was listening to a song a few weeks ago on a "Christian" station and the words of the song sounded like the singer was singing to her lover, not to God the Father in Heaven. When listening to these types of songs, we should ask ourselves whether it can be determined who the song writer is singing the song to. Most of the time, these songs sound like some love ballet wrote to some lover, not to glorify God at all. I'm now loving the old hymns because they focus solely on Christ. I pray we learn to discern what is truly in contemporary Christian and Gospel music.

    1. Yeah alot of newer worship songs (especially those geared at young people) describe God as a lover...I used to be into Jesus Culture when I first got saved but have backed away since...

      Here are the lyrics to a song called "Dance with Me"
      VERSE 1:
      Behold You have come over the hills upon the mountain
      To me, You will run. My Beloved, You've captured my heart

      CHORUS 1:
      Won't You dance with me, Oh
      Lover of my soul,
      to the song of all songs?

      VERSE 2:
      With You, I will go You are my Love You are my Fair One
      The winter has passed and the springtime has come

      CHORUS 2:
      Won't You dance with me, Oh
      Lover of my soul,
      to the song of all songs?
      Romance me, Oh
      Lover of my soul
      to the song of all songs.

      I had stopped listening to CCM years ago because I thought the music (not the lyrics) plain sucked and moved on to secular music which became my life. When I got saved, I latched on to a local radio station that doesn't play ANY CCM. They play older hymns and songs that are scripture based and focus on The Lord and The Christian Walk and our weakness in the sight of God.

      It's really easy to fall into the trap of thinking of God as a big ball of love to hug and to do wonderful things for us. And He has given us amazing promises and He IS love. But HE IS GOD! An All Consuming Fire. The beginning and The End and the CREATOR of all of existence. We can't even take the earth or the solar system into account and keep the focus on ourselves because we are greatly overshadowed. Sad thing is we've managed to do so when taking into account the creator of all those things.

    2. Hi Debbie,

      Yes, I remember that song too. I think it is based on Song of Solomon (also called Song of Songs) in which we see the passionate love that Jesus has for His Bride. Jesus loves us with a love beyond measure and the pattern for this is seen in how a husband is to love his wife. There are times I have soared in dance with Him, although I do have a proclivity towards dance. :-)

      I think the danger comes in when we begin to take one attribute of God and eclipse the others, as you indicate above. Just because His love for us is great does not mean that He is not also a Righteous Judge. Just because He is longsuffering does not mean that He will put up with sin & disobedience always. He is holy and He commands that we are to be also. He is calling all men unto repentance. We must consider the whole counsel of God and not just the parts we want to hear.

      I thank God for His love, yet also for His correction, which too is an example of His love (Rev. 3:19). Yes, as you say, we too often fail to take into account the Creator of all things. When we look at God from just the perspective of our lives and what we want/feel/need, we will always come up short.

    3. I so agree Ty! There is a song called, "I love the way you hold me" and while it is performed by a Christian artist, it sounds like a human love song. My daughter's class at school had a discussion on whether this was a "Christian" song or not. The teacher's position was that it was; afterall, she says the word "Lord" in the song (if you listen hard enough to hear it). I was not so sure. It is a cute song, but I figure if you can listen to a "Christian" song and not be impressed by the presence and awe of God, then how "Christian" is it? Why do we have to try and listen hard in order to detect any [fleeting] reference to the Lord?

      Well, we noticed the other day that this same song is being used as background music in a secular commercial. I turned to my daughters and said, "See. Even the world knows this is not a song about the Lord. Plus, they had to give permission for this song to be used in a secular way."

      Yes, we must seek to have our hearts be sensitive to God's ways. We must seek to be led by His Spirit in all things or we might not even notice compromise when it is right in our midsts.

  5. I don't own a lot of Christian music (most of it is CDs that were given to me by a sister in Christ). I just started having these thoughts lately, that the music I'd been listening too was 'off'.

    I have a few WOW gospel CDs(1998, 2000, 2005?) and I remember skipping past song after song, because none of them sat right with my spirit. It seemed that all, or darn near all, of the songs were about the prosperity gospel. Seriously.

    I just wanted to hear music praising God and proclaiming His holiness, goodness, righteousness, and glory. Yet, all the songs were about getting blessings, being healed, and other things.

    I'd like to get a couple of CDs to listen in the car, but I haven't bothered to look for it yet. So, in the mean time, we often listen to our kids' children's Christian songs, because they have more of the gospel in them than the 'adult' music.

    God bless and thanks.

    1. Hi Christal,

      I have noticed this too, that the children's songs often contain more biblical themes than the adult contemporary music. Music is powerful, and even Satan likes to use this. I guess it only makes sense that he would attempt to pervert the message in "Christian" music. Yet as with you, I know that God will not leave us ignorant. He will give us wisdom and discernment to see what is not of Him if we sincerely seek Him. Thank God for the stirring of His Spirit within and may we all be quick to obey Him.

      Hope you are well!

  6. Here's the songs from Zac Poonen. He has written six hymns. The lyrics for these are at: He has not written the music for any of these hymns. However, here are some suggested tunes:

    1. Jesus Savior:
    2. Lord Jesus Christ we bow in full surrender:
    3. What God did for Jesus:
    4. Lord give me light:
    5. From this earth I will soon be departing:
    6. The Church is my home:

  7. Upon reflection, this should be no surprise at all.

    Turning the World Upside Down - Part 7

    Guess we are right on schedule...


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