Preaching the Gospel to Yourself

May 29, 2019 • Dennis Ellingburg

In 1 Peter 1:15-16 we are commanded that “just as he who call you is holy, so be holy in all you do…”  The pursuit of holiness is to be the lifelong work of all Christians, but living the Christian life is hard work.  And so it’s always wonderful when we can find and share methods, tips, and techniques that we can pass along to others to help them in their Christian walk.  Over the next several weeks, I will be looking at various techniques and methods I have found to be beneficial in helping me grow in my faith in my relationship with the Lord.

One technique that I have found helpful and am still struggling to perfect (and will probably be struggling to perfect until I’m perfected in Christ) is the discipline of preaching the gospel to myself.  Jerry Bridges, one of the greatest Christian authors of our time who passed away in 2016, said “To preach the gospel to yourself, then, means that you continually face up to your own sinfulness and then flee to Jesus through faith in His shed blood and righteous life. It means that you appropriate, again by faith, the fact that Jesus fully satisfied the law of God, that He is your propitiation, and that God’s holy wrath is no longer directed toward you.”

To preach the gospel to yourself means that we believe that the Bible is indeed the inspired Word of God given to us and that inspiration means that the Bible has the power to change and transform lives, namely my life, and to apply that truth to my life daily and then to apply the good news that God has forgiven us through his Son of the sins that we will inevitably commit throughout the day.  

So what does this look like practically?  Well, it means that when I read scripture I am asking questions that help me see the truth of the text and its application in my life.  Practically, it means that when I read Galatians 6:1-10, that I see that Paul is warning the Galatians about the dangers of getting too close to sin.  That I see how sin corrupts and if we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves being corrupted by the sin we’re called to expose.  Upon reading that text, it should lead to me thinking something like this:

“Soul, are you being deceived?  I know that no one really wants to be deceived, or likes to think of themselves of being deceived, but there is a real danger here.  Am I being deceived into thinking that what I do, or what I watch, or what I participate in has little to do with what comes out in my spiritual life?  Am I so convinced of my own spiritual strength that I think I can keep consuming the worldly values that surround me and I will be unaffected?  The sin is not in the doing, but really in the thinking that I am above all of this, that I am above the fray, that it cannot happen to me.  The sin is in being deceived into thinking that what I sow I will not also reap.  This is vanity of the largest order.

But God is gracious.  He is the God who shines his light into the darkness of our hearts (2 Cor. 4:6) and who blots out our sins for his names sake (Isaiah 45:36).  In Christ, I am free from sin, and so I repent and trust in his grace.  Help me Lord, to not be deceived and to walk in the light.”

This is at the heart of preaching the gospel to yourself, internalizing the scripture, and probing the depths of your heart, and then reminding ourselves of the glorious grace of Christ that covers our sins.

Do you make a practice of preaching the gospel to yourself?  If not, would you begin the practice today?  

For some great resources on preaching the gospel to yourself, let me suggest the following:

Note To Self:  The Discipline of Preaching To Yourself by Joe Thorn.

Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges

The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges

I hope these will benefit you as you seek to grow in holiness and obedience to our Lord.

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