Back in the mid 1970’s, after graduating from High School and entering the work force, I took on a job at a State facility for mentally retarded adults. My job title back then was “MHA-1” which was an acronym for “Mental Health Assistant, Level 1”.
The job itself is not my main focus for this column. What I want to discuss with you is the term used quite frequently at this facility called “Behavior Modification”. This term was used for what we called behavior change techniques to increase or decrease the frequency of behaviors, such as altering an individual’s behavior and reaction to stimuli through positive or negative reinforcement of adaptive behavior. I suppose that in this setting and under these conditions, these behavior change techniques may be useful and helpful, but they have absolutely nothing to do with how God our Father interacts with His children!
Unfortunately through the years, the Church of Jesus Christ has become more concerned with and focused upon behavior and sin and the continuation of the preaching of the Law of Moses, rather than the preaching of the Completed work of Jesus Christ which brings about real life transformation! We read in John 1:17, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” The law, meaning the 10 Commandments, which God gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai, was fulfilled by Jesus Christ! Matthew 5:17. If you or I could behave correctly all the time and keep the 10 Commandments perfectly there would be no need for a savior! So to continue teaching the law as if it wasn’t fulfilled by Jesus Christ is to do so contrary to scripture. Preaching the law keeps people focused on sin, 1Cor.15:56, “…the strength, (the power) of sin is the law”. Behavior will not change by the preaching of the law!
Don’t get me wrong, the 10 Commandments are Holy and Perfect, but they cannot make us holy or perfect. If they could, Jesus then would not have needed to be born, crucified and be resurrected. Jesus did what we could not do for ourselves, as our substitute He fulfilled the Law perfectly!
At the Cross, Jesus paid for our bad behavior, our sin and gave us His Righteousness! We read in Romans 3:20, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified [made righteous] in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge [awareness] of sin. “Romans 3:21, “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested…” Romans 3:22-24, “Even the righteousness of God which is by the faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all that believe; for there is no difference: For all have sinned, [behaved badly] and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 2:16, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
I cannot say it any clearer than what the Bible says, the law which came by His servant Moses, can’t justify or make one righteous which means to be in right standing with God! My advice to Pastors is to stop preaching that God is angry and is out to punish people for their bad behavior!
The Good News is, according to Romans 4:5, God Justifies the Ungodly! Everything changed after Jesus said on the cross, “It is Finished!” The sin problem (our ungodliness) has been dealt with! The behavior problem has been dealt with! Jesus Christ, by His one offering has perfected forever them that are sanctified. Heb.10:14.
So this tells me that Christians should not be focused on the behavior of the world, but on the Gospel of Grace which is the undeserved, unearned and unmerited favor of God! Christianity today is not about me or you or what we can do for God but rather what he has done for us.
John 3:16-17,”For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life, For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
God sent a Savior, not a condemner!
If He who knew no sin and did no sin and in him was no sin didn’t condemn the world with all its bad behavior, who am I, who knows sin, did sin and still sins, to set myself up as Judge and Jury over the world?
This is why sharing The Gospel of Grace, The Good News and staying focused on Jesus and His accomplishments is what brings about Real Life Transformation in the lives of people! God is not into Behavior Modification, He is into Life Transformation!
Love you all!!! Peter Larocque