The False Jesus of Celebrate Recovery

A Christ Centered Critique of Anthropocentric Sanctification.

The theology presented in this program comes from a theology that runs through many American churches.  This post will focus on the false theology that is infecting many American Churches including Celebrate Recovery (a self proclaimed Christ centered program).  Throughout this post there will be many quotes taken from the Celebrate Recovery website, that website can be found here and I will do my best to link each quotation.  I decided to write about this because there is a Christless Christianity that runs through our country.  Countless sermons or “messages” follow the same pattern and they are missing something critical to Christianity.  I could review countless sermons or I could review a program that claims to be Christ-centered.  Before I begin I want to make absolutely clear that my goal is not to harm but to help.  My conscious is bound to Holy Scripture and my goal is to help others see what Christianity is and what it is not.  Let’s begin.

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Change Is Possible: The Eight Principles of Celebrate Recovery
Since the beginning of time, men and women have searched for happiness — usually in all the wrong places, trying all the wrong things. But there’s only one place where we can find tested-and-proven, absolutely-gonna-work principles that will lead to healing and happiness. These principles come in the form of eight statements from the truest of all books — the Bible — and from the most revered Teacher of all time — Jesus Christ. Jesus laid out these principles for happiness in the Sermon on the Mount in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 5. Today we call them “the Beatitudes.”

Change, Jesus says, can be ours, but the pathway to change and happiness may not be exactly what we’re expecting. From a conventional viewpoint, most of the following eight statements don’t make sense. At first they even sound like contradictions. But when you fully understand what Jesus is saying, you’ll realize these eight statements are God’s pathway to wholeness, growth, and spiritual maturity.

“Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.”
“Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
“Happy are the meek.” “Happy are the pure in heart.”
“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.”
“Happy are those who are merciful.”
“Happy are those who work for peace.”
“Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.”
The power to change comes only from God’s grace. In Principle 1 we start working and living this program in earnest. When we admit we’re powerless, we go on to recognize that we need a power greater than ourselves to restore us. That power is the one and only true Higher Power, Jesus Christ.

The first step of the Christ-centered 12 Steps relates to Principle 1:

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.
“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
(Romans 7: 18)

There is a lot to unpack here.  I’d like to work backwards through this.  The power to change comes only from God’s grace.  I agree.  The means of God’s grace are Word and Sacrament however that isn’t where they are pointing you. You might be tempted to think:  “But, they quote Scripture and use that to help you change, right?”  This is where we need to properly define what is God’s grace.  Christianity tells us that we are all condemned sinners under the wrath of God. The only grace comes from Jesus’ substitutionary atonement for us.  All of God’s wrath for sin poured out on Jesus in our place and His righteousness imputed into us by faith through Word and Sacrament.  Jesus is our grace.  Where is Jesus as a propitiation for our sins here?

Since the beginning of time, men and women have searched for happiness — usually in all the wrong places, trying all the wrong things. But there’s only one place where we can find tested-and-proven, absolutely-gonna-work principles that will lead to healing and happiness. These principles come in the form of eight statements from the truest of all books — the Bible — and from the most revered Teacher of all time — Jesus Christ.

Jesus, as presented here, is not the Biblical fully God and fully man who lived a perfect life (active obedience) and suffered the Fathers wrath (passive obedience) willingly, in our place, suffered, died, and raised on the third day for our justification.  No, here Jesus is presented as a teacher who will show you how to fill that need for happiness that you keep searching for.  This is a false Jesus.  Scripture doesn’t show us that Jesus came to make us happy.  In fact, it tells us the opposite, that the Christian life is a life of suffering because it’s so contrary to the world we live in.  The Jesus presented here and in American Christianity is a Jesus that will change your life and make it all better by making you a better person.  Sound familiar?  It should.  It’s every religion, every commercial, every advertisement, every self-help guru, everything else the world promises you; but it isn’t true Christianity.  If what you say about Jesus is what the world wants to hear; you have a false Jesus. True Christianity confronts you with the truth that you are a condemned sinner, then gives you Jesus for your sins, then through the Holy Spirit, given through Word and Sacrament, raises you from spiritual death to life and enables you to do good works, not for salvation, not for yourself, not to better your life, and not for anything for you; these good works are done for your neighbor.  This is because when you are alive in the Spirit you don’t live for yourself, you live for others.  In fact, the life of the Christian is a life of repentance and that means drowning the old Adam in daily repentance and daily rising in a new person to live for Christ.  God bought you with a price and God will work in you and through you without you needing to focus on all those struggles that Celebrate Recovery lists, of which are mainly first commandment issues.  Which they aren’t listed as even being sins.  The person coming for “recovery” isn’t being brought to God.  The person coming for help isn’t being presented with Law and Gospel, there isn’t a diagnosis of sin and grace for the cure.  The person coming for help is only receiving self-help.  Let me explain further.  the person coming with those “struggles” isn’t coming because they are sinners under God’s wrath nor are they presented with this when they come for help with these struggles.

Jesus laid out these principles for happiness in the Sermon on the Mount in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 5. Today we call them “the Beatitudes.”
Change, Jesus says, can be ours, but the pathway to change and happiness may not be exactly what we’re expecting. From a conventional viewpoint, most of the following eight statements don’t make sense. At first they even sound like contradictions. But when you fully understand what Jesus is saying, you’ll realize these eight statements are God’s pathway to wholeness, growth, and spiritual maturity.
“Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.”
“Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
“Happy are the meek.” “Happy are the pure in heart.”
“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.”
“Happy are those who are merciful.”
“Happy are those who work for peace.”
“Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.”

Finally, lets take a look at the main claim from Celebrate Recovery.  Jesus has given us a path to follow so that we can be happy, we can change our behavior, we can grow to be whole and have spiritual maturity.  They then quote some of Matthew chapter 5 to try to support this claim.  So, according to Celebrate Recovery, Jesus isn’t the propitiation for your sins, you don’t even have sins you have character defects, Jesus is here to show you a way of how to fix your path, to grow to be happy and whole.  This is not the Jesus of Scripture and the Scripture they use makes Jesus out to be a Hippie Moses.  “Just follow these guidelines and you will be on your way to happiness” – Hippie Jesus.  Let’s begin by going to a better translation of this text.  I recommend ESV but the WEB is a good translation and its in the public domain so let’s take a look at that:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the gentle,
for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,
for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Things get cleared up when you go to a more word for word translation instead of someone’s paraphrase.  Being blessed isn’t about being happy as we use it today, neither is the translation of righteousness best translated to mean “because they do what God requires“.  An easy way to understand this is how was Abraham righteous?

Even as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” [Gal 3:6]

Faith is what makes us righteous, not works.  American Christianity has been trying so hard to get away from being Romanist that they are becoming Romanist.  More on that later.  These are not statements of happiness but blessings or gifts.  Jesus is pronouncing current and future gifts.  Take a look at how the beginning and end are current blessings of “are/ is” and the middle blessings are listed as “shall“.  What then is Jesus telling us?  If you have been confronted with God’s Law you know you are spiritually poor, you have nothing good inside of you, nothing to offer God for your sins, you are under Gods wrath.  This knowledge is a blessing because the comfort is given because of faith.  Verses 10 through 12 tell us this.  Persecuted for righteousness’ sake; what righteousness?  I’m spiritually poor I have no righteousness!  Ah, the righteousness of Christ given to me in faith.  What comes after all of this?  All of those “Shall” verses.  Because of repentance, contrition and faith, we have more gifts given to us. The gift of comfort is given because of this. When you mourn over your sin you have the comfort of Christ by the Holy Spirit given for you.  The gifts of gentleness and peace [Gal 5:22-23] are given, we are merciful because we are pure of heart we are pure of heart because we hunger and thirst for the righteousness of Christ that is given through the gift of faith and all of this will be completed on the Last Day when Jesus returns.  You see how all of this points to Jesus?  You see how all of these are gifts given through the Holy Spirit by faith in Christ’s righteousness that is credited to you through His resurrection?  None of this is anything you have to do, none of this has to do with a smile on your face because these gifts are true even if you’re not happy.  Even on the worst day you can be assured of these gifts.  Even when you’re suffering this is the comfort.  A Christian message is not a Christian message when it points you back to your works.  A Christian message is not a Christian message when you are getting more attention than Jesus.

How does Jesus’ definition of His words compare to Celebrate Recovery’s definition?  Here is how Celebrate Recovery turns gifts given by God into works you must do:

Celebrate Recovery’s Eight Recovery Principles
The Road to Recovery Based on the Beatitudes
Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable. (Step 1)
“Happy are those who know that they are spiritually poor.” Matthew 5:3a TEV
Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover. (Step 2)
“Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 TEV, NIV
Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control. (Step 3)
“Happy are the meek.” Matthew 5:5a TEV
Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust. (Steps 4 and 5)
“Happy are the pure in heart.” Matthew 5:8a TEV
Voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects. (Steps 6 and 7)
“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires” Matthew 5:6a TEV
Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others when possible, except when to do so would harm them or others. (Steps 8 and 9)
“Happy are the merciful.” Matthew 5:7a TEV; “Happy are the peacemakers” Matthew 5:9 TEV
Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will. (Steps 10 and 11)
Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and my words. (Step 12)
“Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.” Matthew 5:10 TEV

It starts out almost accurate but then takes a turn back to yourself.  Repentance doesn’t mean to lean on God and then turn back to your efforts, or get a boost from God and then you can do better.  Repentance is contrition and faith, sorrow for sin and faith in Christ for the forgiveness of those sins.  All of this is a gift given by God because we are all dead in our sins [Eph 2:1-5].  St. Paul tells us in Romans that we have nothing good in us and that after we are made spiritually alive the good that we do is because of faith, which is a gift, and now that we are spiritually alive we daily drown the old Adam in us through daily repentance. However, that isn’t done through focusing on our own efforts but only though the Gospel of Jesus who has done it all for you.  This is not the Jesus given in Celebrate Recovery.  Celebrate Recovery sends you to lean on your own efforts.  Their Jesus got you started but now the rest is up to you, Their Jesus keeps giving you a boost but you have to keep working on yourself.  This is nothing more than to reject the new spiritual birth of the new man in you and to use Jesus to try to fix the dead man in you.  As if to try to remodel the Old Adam in you who is in bondage to sin, death, and the devil.  The Christ of the Bible not only brings you to spiritual life but has done it all for you, this gospel message is what starts and keeps your sanctification.  Why?  Because when you sin the Holy Spirit wont point you back to your own efforts but on Jesus’ work completed for you, you become more holy because Jesus declares you holy.

The Beatitudes are only the beginning.  There are 12 steps to work through once you are in the program.  It’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t just worked through in one night.  Each of these steps have smaller steps and studies to work though as well.  How simple it would be to just go to a faithful church and hear a solid proclamation of Law and Gospel usually done in 10-15 minutes… I digress.

Celebrate Recovery 12 Steps and Biblical Comparisons

1. We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18 NIV

2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13 NIV

3. We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1 NIV

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Lamentations 3:40 NIV

5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16a NIV

6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10 NIV

7. We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NIV

8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 NIV

9. We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24 NIV

10. We continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12

11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us, and power to carry that out.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Colossians 3:16a NIV

12. Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs.
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore them gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1 NIV

We, We, We, The entire focus is on the individuals work.  It starts out seeming like repentance and coming to faith but then just like what they did to the beatitudes they did here and place you back onto your own works and efforts to clean up your life.  It seems biblical because they are quoting Scripture but when you place these verses into their context they aren’t telling you they are a step, they aren’t telling you that the way to sanctification is through focusing on yourself, they aren’t telling you that they will make your life better, they aren’t even pointing you to yourself but to Jesus because the Bible is His Word (John 1), it’s all about Him (John 5:39), and its given to us so that we receive the gift of faith to an everlasting life (Romans 10: 17-18).  The 12 steps are secular. These are the same 12 steps from Alcoholics AnonymousWhat has been done is that a secular self-help program has been “Christianized” by forcing biblical texts into the original steps; a form of eisegesis.  This removes the correct meaning of the Scriptural texts and gives them a different one.  There are no steps in the Bible.  There is the way of self and the way of God.  The ten commandments shows us that we constantly go our own way, we are constantly looking inward, God says “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.” [Matt 11:28]  The work isn’t yours, it’s His and it is finished [John 19:30].  I want to bring a few more things to light before wrapping this up.  Steps 11-12 are troubling.  “our conscious contact with God” “Having had a spiritual experience” this is mysticism language.  Scripture doesn’t tell us to find God or find the Word of God in prayer and meditation.  We find God in Scripture and Sacrament (because the Word is present).

There isn’t any mention in Scripture about a 12 step program or a promise of a messiah given to us to clean up our life.  However, He does tell us to repent and believe in the gospel [Mark 1:15]. To begin to understand what Jesus does promise us we should take a look at God’s Holy Law.  This is vastly different than the character defects and the steps that Celebrate Recovery uses.

You shall have no other gods.  (Fear, love, and trust in God above all things).

Don’t take the name of the Lord in vain (fear and love God that you may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.)

Sanctify the holy-day (fear and love God that you don’t despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it). 

Honor your father and your mother (fear and love God that you don’t despise nor anger your parents and other authorities but give them honor, serve, obey, and hold them in love and esteem).

Don’t murder (fear and love God that you may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need [in every need and danger of life and body]).

Don’t commit adultery. (fear and love God that you may lead a chaste and decent life in words and deeds, and each love and honor his spouse.)

Don’t steal. (fear and love God that you may not take our neighbor’s money or property, nor get them by false ware or dealing, but help him to improve and protect his property and business [that his means are preserved and his condition is improved].)

Don’t bear false witness against others. (fear and love God that you may not lie, betray, slander, or defame your neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

Don’t covet your neighbor’s house. (fear and love God that you may not craftily seek to get your neighbor’s inheritance or house, and obtain it by a show of [justice and] right, etc., but help and be of service to him in keeping it).

Don’t covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is his. (fear and love God that we may not estrange, force, or entice away our neighbor’s wife, servants, or cattle, but urge them to stay and [diligently] do their duty.)

That covers all active sin, God declares you guilty.  You have sinned against a holy and just God and you are guilty.  Self-help Jesus can’t save you.  Hippie Jesus cant save you.  No matter how much you clean up your life judgement day is coming and you are guilty.  No matter how long you have strived to live a good life it means nothing.

This brings us to the conclusion of this post.  American Christianity has become more about moralistic values than Christ.  Countless churches have become self-help recovery places instead of Christ given for you.  A Christ-less Christianity is one where the Christian and Christian living is the focus instead of Christ, suffered, died, and resurrected for you.  As I had said no amount of self-help is going to save you, guilty is guilty.  You can’t break the Law and say “yeah but that was 6 months ago and look at all the good I’ve done“.  It wont take away or cancel out the offense.  You need Jesus, the real Jesus.  You need God in human flesh, fully God and fully man who lived a perfect life and took the punishment for you as if He is the one that did it; yet He was completely innocent.  You need the Jesus that suffered and died and rose again from the dead and lives today.  You need to hear this daily, this isn’t just a one time proclamation, more on that later.  He didn’t rise from the grave so that you could be happy.  He didn’t rise from the grave so that you could clean up your life.  He rose from the grave to give you something; His righteousness.  He didn’t let us nail Him to the cross, die, and rise again just so you could start living a better life.  He didn’t suffer for you so you could be a better person.  He did all of that so that you could be declared as if you never did it at all.  So that the debt was not only paid its as if it never happened.  You see this is the problem with American Christianity.  It wants you to be a Romanist.  It wants you to keep focusing on yourself and on your life.  It wants you to hold on to something even if its “your decision to follow Jesus” (still a work your crediting yourself with; decision theology is a terrible lie of the devil, but that’s for another post).  If St. Paul would tell the Galatians that a simple thing like having some confidence in [circumcision + Jesus] is damnable, so is [my will + Jesus].  So is my [internal effort + Jesus].  This is the Celebrate Recovery method.  The individual + Jesus = Recovery.  The spiritually dead (no God’s Law and Gospel properly given) individual cleaned up to be better.  As John Townsend stated in an interview with Christian Post, the goal of Celebrate Recovery is to get the individual back to Adams righteousness, not Christ’s.

CP: You believe everyone needs recovery. Can you please explain that?

Townsend:  The Bible teaches that the human race ever since “the Fall” has needed to be in recovery. The word “recover” means to restore to its original state. You recover like a great [damaged] painting – it goes into recovery and it gets restored. People recover their losses in a company. When I’m working as a consultant with a company we work on a company recovery process until it’s restored. Leaders recover their self confidence after a loss.  So, after the Fall and as a race, we lost God and we lost meaning and purpose, and we also lost ourselves. We are all trying to get back to the Garden and that’s what recovery is.

Christianity isn’t about trying to become like Adam, it’s about being Christ-like.  It’s Christ’s righteousness credited to us, not Adams righteousness before the fall.  We wont be able to sin in heaven and on the new earth, Adam was able, and did, sin.  You can see where this whole theology is flawed.   It’s trying to take the individual and set them on a path to being a righteous moral person; without the righteousness of Christ.  The problem with Celebrate Recovery is it’s trying to create a new spiritual man out of the dead man; as every religion and self-help program would have you do.  Now, in Christianity you do cooperate with the Holy Spirit (after conversion) to live holy, but that’s not so that you can clean up your life, that’s because you are spiritually alive and since your justified you can look outside of yourself and love God and others.  You can do good works for others because you can love others the way that God does and this is all because the Holy Spirit has called you by the Gospel and enlightened you with His gifts, sanctified and kept you in the true faith.  In other words, it’s the Spirit working through the proclamation of the Gospel (through Word and Sacrament) that creates and sustains this active faith in you.  The Gospel of Jesus given for you needs to be constantly poured into us to keep us spiritually alive.  The problem is what’s given most to motivate you to do clean up your life is the Law.  They view the Gospel as only being applicable for your conversion, Christmas, and Easter.   That’s where the program falls.  There isn’t proper law and gospel to convert anyone.  This is where American Christianity fails as well.  The Gospel, just as the Law, isn’t used correctly.  For those in Celebrate Recovery, as well as those in most American Evangelical churches, the Gospel is what gets you in.  It’s the membership card that you shove in your wallet and renew it at Christmas or Easter time.  As if to say, we are just checking to make sure we all give a hat tip to Jesus because we don’t talk about Him much the rest of the year.

The Law is great but it’s not going to give you proper motivation to start to live the Law, because the Law doesn’t give spiritual life.  It will only lead to pride or despair.  The Gospel is what makes us Spiritually alive.  An interesting note is that the Gospel is so hidden in American Christianity that when you do despair or doubt your faith you will be pointed back to your decision, your choice to be baptized and what happens?  You have to rededicate your life to Jesus, maybe this even includes re-baptizing because you failed the first time and this time you really mean it.  This type of thinking, this type of theology, is not rooted in Scripture.  The New Testament doesn’t tell us that we need to re-baptize ourselves, it says baptism saves [1 Peter 3:21], but it doesn’t say your salvation is held on to your efforts or that your spiritual life is kept alive by your efforts.  However, God’s Word does constantly point you to Jesus the author and perfecter of your faith [Heb 12:2].  That’s because the Gospel is the power to salvation [Rom 1:16].  The Holy Spirit is given and a new life springs forth, not by focusing on the inside of you, but only because of the constant refreshment of the Gospel.  As we saw above the program is completely self-centered on the individuals progress (sanctification) with the help of hippie Jesus, there isn’t condemnation of your sin, there isn’t a savior for your sin, there isn’t a conversion at all because the Gospel isn’t present, the Gospel isn’t present because you have a false Jesus.  You don’t have a Jesus that gives eternal life instead you have a Jesus that helps you fix your current life.  No mention of the Holy Spirit either, who proceeds from the Father and Son and creates in you a new life, not so you can fix the old one but so that you can have a new life, an eternal life, and because this life isn’t the last you can do good works but not for yourself but for others.  In turn, you wont focus on how well your sanctification is going because you will see yourself crucified with Jesus, you were bought with a price, and you will see others the way that Jesus does, who gave Himself for them.  You will struggle with sin sure but you wont be so focused on it that you despair because you will be living a life of daily repentance in the Gospel, the Gospel of Jesus for you, and that is a Gospel that is missing in programs like Celebrate Recovery.

In conclusion, if you see that you are sinful.  If you see that the way you live your life isn’t the best, that’s actually a good thing.  You can look at God’s Holy Law and see how you could do better and strive to do better but only through daily repentance, contrition and faith, in the Gospel of Christ crucified and risen for you.  You drown that old sinful nature by remembering your baptism and that Jesus calls you His own.  Just as He died and rose so will you, you were bought by His body and blood and He gives you that same body and blood in Holy Communion to strengthen your faith and forgive your sins (more Gospel and its all for you as a gift!)  Just as you have the Holy Spirit in you creating and growing your faith, you have the body and blood of Jesus inside you doing the same making you more like Him all by faith, that is also a gift, and none of this is through a program or works or of any merit of yourself but because God, the Holy Spirit, has called you.  You see you don’t do anything.  God does it all for you and says “repent and believe” even repentance and faith is a gift given because you are spiritually dead.  Everything that God requires of you He has given you.  Blessed are you because you don’t need to do anything; repent and believe.

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