If we are compelled by biblical teaching both to preach Christ crucified (Acts10:42) and advance virtue (Phil 4:8) then it necessarily follows that the two are not mutually exclusive, and we must be able to do both. The answer is found in preaching the gospel even as you are promoting biblical virtues. The gospel goes beyond the categories of morality or immorality. It cuts an entirely different angle altogether.
How to Promote Biblical Virtues Without Sliding Into Moralism
A few weeks back I assigned myself what would appear to be a simple enough task of preparing a sermon on holiness.
I found out it wasn’t simple after all.
I found myself struggling over how I may promote a biblical virtue without degenerating into a kind of a finger-pointing, head-bashing legalism.
This would not have been a problem if God’s call to holiness was merely a good suggestion on His part. But that’s not the case. Quite clearly, God’s call for holy living in Scripture is couched in the imperative mood. He’s not merely suggesting that we be holy. He is commanding us to be holy. You can’t read Hebrews 12 and not notice that the language there smacks of exhortation: “lift your drooping hands”, “strengthen your weak knees”, “make straight paths for your feet”, “strive for holiness, “see to it”. Romans 8 is a clear case in point: “Put to death the deeds of the body”. The verbs “put to death” and “mortify” are in the imperative mood, indicating that this is a divine command.
But here is where the problem starts.