The False Gospel of Niceness

Steven Rodriguez

Read: Isaiah 1:10-20

Bring no more vain offerings . . . Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean. (vv. 13, 16)

The biggest, baddest, most dangerous false gospel is the one that looks the most like the real thing. You can go to church every Sunday; volunteer in every church committee and community organization; be an all-around, super nice person and still completely miss the gospel.

Isaiah doesn’t have time for niceties and do-goodery. His language is harsh and jarring because he is desperately trying to uproot our comfy religion. Underneath the game of church that we play, there is a crisis in our deepest selves, a conflict where the depth of our sin is outmatched by the depth of God’s grace. Don’t settle for a nice faith. Receive from God the deeper challenge of confession and assurance.

Could it be that you have traded the gospel for niceness? One way to tell is if you find yourself hiding behind religious works to avoid confronting your own sin and need for forgiveness. Seen on the other side of the life and death of Jesus Christ, God’s command to “wash yourselves” sounds like a purposely impossible demand. Of course we can’t wash ourselves! We can only receive the grace of God, a grace which declares that we are made clean, independent of any good that we can do. Don’t settle for a false gospel of niceness. Live in the gospel of deep, acknowledged sin and deeper, cleansing grace. —Steven Rodriguez

Prayer: Lord, I don’t just want to be nice. I want to be saved by your grace.