Gospel Blindness

Paul Tripp in his book “How People Change” describes what he calls “gospel blindness” as follows:

“It is in the here and now that many of us experience gospel blindness.  Our sight is dimmed by the tyranny of the urgent, the siren call of success, by the seductive beauty of physical things, by our inability to admit our own problems, and by the casual relationships within the body of Christ that we mistakenly call fellowship…..People need to see that the gospel belongs in their workplace, their kitchen, their school, their bedroom, their backyard, and their van.  They need to see the way the gospel makes a connection between what they are doing and what God is doing.  They need to understand that their life stories are being lived out within God’s larger story so that they can learn to live each day with a gospel mentality.”  (Paul David Tripp, How People Change, pg. 4) 

First of all, I wish I had written that.  That’s good stuff!

Secondly, it’s good stuff, because Paul Tripp is on to something.  He’s articulating what I’ve been saying for the last few months in our Missional Living series.  He’s articulating what I live through each day of my life.

The gospel is more than a story of how God can forgive me for my past, and it is more than a story of how He has secured my eternity.  It is also a story of how the life that I live now can only be lived for Him if I live it in Him.  It’s the gospel for my today, and my tomorrow, and my every day.

But then the real question becomes, “do I really live that truth out?”  Tyler touched on this yesterday in his post, lamenting the times he has “talked the talk”, but it never moved from talk to action.  The question Tripp raises in his book (and I hope will answer….I’m just reading it now), is “how”; how to move from knowing the truth to living the truth.  Essentially, how we change.

His fundamental premise is that we must address this “gospel blindness”.  We must address the need to see how the gospel intersects with every single aspect of our life (our marriage, our job, our parenting, our finances, our relationships, our struggles with sin, our thought-life…everything).  If we don’t address that, then we will continue to suffer from gospel-blindness.

Tripp goes on to suggest that this gospel blindness manifests itself in three ways: 

1.     Blindness of Identity – Because we don’t fully understand who we are without Christ, we also don’t understand who we are in  Christ.  When we don’t fully understand our depravity, we will “underestimate the presence and power of indwelling sin” (Tripp), and this will lead us to believe the lie that our greatest problems are not within us but outside of us.  Further, when we don’t fully understand our identity in Christ, then we will live out some other identity (e.g. materialism, achievement, perfectionism, formal religion, legalism, activism, etc.)

2.     Blindness of Provision – 2 Peter 1:3 says,

 “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness”

This means that we who have trusted in Christ alone for salvation have the presence of Christ (through the abiding Spirit) in us…and that His presence in us is enough.  The provision of “Christ in us” is all we need for God to affect lasting change in us to live out the missional life He has called each of us to.  But, if I am blinded to how the gospel intersects with my life in the “here and now”, I will be blind to the presence of Christ in me, and I will simply try to “be better” and “do more” to affect those changes myself.

3.     Blindness to God’s Process – If we misunderstand the gospel, then it is easy for us to think that God is all about working things out for our comfort and ease, instead of working on us for gospel growth and transformation for His glory.  As Tripp says, “Making us holy is God’s unwavering agenda until we are taken home to be with him” (Tripp).  If we are blind to this maturing process, then we are easy prey for the enemy’s strategy of inducing resentment that God isn’t blessing us according to our desires and timetable.

How about you?  Do you have a gospel blind spot?  Where might you be reducing the gospel to something that focuses more on the externals instead of allowing it to focus on daily, grace-filled, heart change?  This is a daily battle for me, and I doubt that I’m alone in that. 

(I’m looking forward to finishing the book, and hope to share more of Tripp’s insights with you as I do).

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5 thoughts on “Gospel Blindness

  1. Ken, thanks for putting this out in the open for discussion. I appreciate your honesty about your struggle and as you suggest you aren’t alone. I surmise that many of us are in similar places. The gospel is in our hearts but is repressed somewhere between a convicting message on Sunday and the busyness of life the rest of the week. The gospel should be the prominent thought/goal of the day, not lost in the things we need to accomplish today. The gospel should be the lens with which we view our day, our schedule, our motives, our conversations but all too often the focus becomes our schedule, our motives and our conversations. Our BASE Group is currently studying 1 Corinthians and we are seeing how the church can get off track when you emphasize anything else over and above the simple power of the gospel. When the gospel becomes secondary, or it lacks significance in your life, you’ve just become fleshly – “behaving only in a human way” (in other words, just like a non-believer) and neglecting the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Paul said “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Cor 2:2.

    You aren’t alone. There’s at least one other brother willing to honestly confess this struggle alongside of you. I pray that the blindness will be removed from all of us and that the gospel would permeate our hearts and minds to become first in our lives.

  2. Funny, my first Bible class with BSF yesterday was about blindness! In John 9, Jesus heals a man blind from birth. When first questioned by neighbors, the formerly blind man reveals that he knows nothing about Jesus other than His name and the restoring of his sight.
    Secondly, he recieves a baggering interrogation conducted by the Pharisees who want him to agree that Jesus must be a sinner since He healed on the Sabbath. The man can only reply, “He is a prophet”.
    Thirdly, he is offically summoned and sworn to tell the truth. A more heated interrogation takes place. The man declares that if Jesus where not from God, He could do nothing. At that point he is thrown out.
    Then Jesus seeks out the man and reveals that He is the Messiah. The formerly blind man believes Jesus and worships Him.
    (1) he recieves miraculous healing of physical blindess when he first encounters Jesus (2) he tries to make sense of who Jesus really is (3) he takes a stand that Jesus must be from God (4) his second encounter with Jesus heals his spiritual blindness. Jesus reveals Himself as the Messiah.
    In contrast, the Pharisees who are eyewitnesses to the truth choose to remain in self-induced blindness.

  3. Chris – A primary part of my struggle with “gospel-blindness” is thinking that I can change myself. I’m aware of the externals about me that need to be changed, and so I typically will set out on my own to tackle them and change them. In essense, all I’m doing is pouring a veneer of religious moralism over top of the real problem.

    To the degree that this works temporarily is the degree to which I achieve glory for my self, instead of for God. And when I realize that my self-imposed moral ethic does not effect lasting change, I feel defeated and want to give up.

    The real problem is a heart that still struggles with a sin nature, and still needs a heavy dose of gospel transformation every day. Praise God that He provides that through Christ in me.

    Josie – Good insights….BSF does a great job.

  4. Hey Ken,

    I know you aren’t talking about sharing the gospel directly, but is it true that unless we are sharing our faith we lack in living out the Gospel in our lives?

    I find the problem that I need others in my life who have the same desire so we can make goals together, pair up, and just do things. If I wait until I think I’m ready it will never happen. It doesn’t matter if I’m ready. It matters if God is ready. If He gives us a thing to do, then doesn’t that mean we can do it? Would God command me to do a thing if I can’t possibly get it done?

    Your thoughts?

  5. Pingback: Nonprofit 501 C-3 Organization International | How to Eloquently Overcome Gospel Blindness

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