“I am astonished that, in this manner, you are so quickly turning away from the One calling you in grace, unto a different (heteros) gospel” (Galatians 1:6).
Modern evangelicalism has reacted so strongly against the false doctrine of salvation by works and indulgences, that it has established and propagated another heresy, equally false and more dangerous; that salvation, being by free and unconditional grace alone, is all that God’s new covenant is about and there is little that man needs to do but enjoy the ride.
According to this heteros gospel, God cares little about our sins, and the reason Jesus died was so that we might escape the consequences; in practice, the gospel thus preached is a means of avoiding the penalty justly due under God’s righteous judgement of sin. Like most heteros gospels, there is some truth in it.
But a message of forgiveness without transformation is not good news! All it does is allow the sinner to return comfortably to his sins like “a dog returning to his vomit”. To cancel our past debts and yet leave the debtor in the same moral condition is just not God’s way. If we are redeemed, we are redeemed out of darkness, not to remain therein. Only man could dream up such a fantasy doctrine that denies personal moral responsibility and God’s demand for holiness.
God made the covenant with man and Jesus paid the price; and while that covenant is open to all who will enter into it there is a price too, that we must pay.
“Gather My saints together unto Me, those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice,” God said (Psalm 50:5). His saints, then, are those who make a covenant with Him by sacrifice and that sacrifice is ours, not His. He has already made the sacrifice that allows us to be free from sin; its penalty, its power and ultimately its presence. He made the sacrifice that allows us to be redeemed from bondage to Satan, to be reconciled with God and to have the opportunity of a new beginning. His sacrifice was not made so that we might continue in our own way, following our own desires and pursuing our own ends, free from the eternal consequences of our choices. Being born again is a chance to get it right this time, not to continue as we were without penalty.
Just as Jesus sacrificed His life for us, so too must we sacrifice our lives for Him; that is the new covenant. The sacrifice required is of self; the self life, self confidence, self interest, self esteem, self will and all the selfish vanity and pride of the natural man. Just as Jesus “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26), so too, we are to do the same. His way is to be our way; that is what it means to be a follower of Jesus. “Sacrifice to God is a spirit having been broken, a heart having been shattered and made ashamed” (Psalm 51:17).
Each saint must work out for themselves, with the help of the Holy Spirit, what this means in terms of their own lives. But sacrifice is what He expects of us; the righteous sacrifice of trusting utterly in the Lord (Psalm 4:5).
“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:26-29).