Jared C Wilson:
We tread lightly here, but I fear we vastly underestimate the spiritual damage inflicted on our churches by “How To” sermons without an explicit gospel connection. The Bible is full of practical exhortations and commands, of course, but they are always connected to the foundational and empowering truth of the finished work of Christ. When we preach a message like “Six Steps to _______” or any other “be a better whatever”-type message — where the essential proclamation is not what Christ has done but what we ought/need to do — we become preachers of the law rather than Christ. (And it is not rare that this kind of message with barely any or no mention of Christ(!) at all gets preached.)
But is it just merely unfortunate? Something that could be improved but not really that big of a deal?
I think the Scriptures show us that this kind of preaching isn’t just off-center, but actually does great harm, actually serves to accomplish the very opposite of its intention. How?
1. Preaching even a “positive” practical message with no gospel-centrality amounts to preaching the law.
2. The message of the law unaccompanied by and untethered from the central message of the gospel condemns us
3. Therefore, a steady dose of gospel-deficient practical preaching doesn’t make Christians more empowered, more effective, but more discouraged, less empowered.
4. The Bible goes further to suggest, actually, that without the gospel of Christ’s finished work, the preaching of the law of works serves to exacerbate disobedience.
5. The law brings death.
6. The preaching of Christless, gospel-deficient practical sermons increases self-righteousness.
Read the entire post here.