(Series Intro) God’s Word basically presents us with two ways of dealing with sin. There is a man-centered (anthropocentric) approach, which always leads to frustration and ultimately to defeat. And then there is a God-centered (theocentric) approach, which always leads us to the gospel. In this brief, three-post series we take a look at 4 man-centered approaches of dealing with sin in the life of a believer before finally taking a closer look at what Scripture presents as a true, God-centered gospel fueled approach.
We have seen previously how a man-centered approach to dealing with our sin will always fail us.
Man-centered approach – In each of these cases, the focus is on man and his ability or inability.
1) We deny our sin
2) We rationalize our sin
3) We attack our sin
4) We are eventually crushed by our sin
In contrast with this man-centered approach, Scripture’s 2nd option, is wholly different. Rather than being man-centered, it is Gospel-Centered. Rather than simply addressing behaviors, it gets at the heart.
God-centered approach – Man takes a back seat to who God is and what God has done.
So what does a “theo-centric”, “gospel-centric” approach to dealing with sin look like? First, it calls for confession.
We confess our sin
We confess with both our mouth and with our heart that holiness is the standard, and that we have missed it. Scripture repeatedly points to this fact of the human condition. We are fallen and sinful creatures.
So we recognize our sin, we allow sin to be called sin. We mourn over the present brokenness that should not be there. In our world, in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our relationships, in our own hearts. We confess our sin.
We repent of our sin
We turn from a man-centered perspective where we seek to manage our own brokenness through behavior modification or blame shifting or denial. Remember James’s call to “tame the tongue followed by his assertion that “No human can tame the tongue”? That’s why we need Jesus.
So we allow the gospel to do it’s work of confronting and leading us to a place of desperation. We turn from our self-sufficiency towards dependance on Christ. Yes we fight, yes we strive, but we do so not in our own efforts, but in dependance on Him and the work already accomplished on our behalf, recognizing that the root issue is not ultimately our rebellious behaviors but our rebellious hearts.
We believe the gospel
And then thirdly and finally, we believe the gospel message that says in spite of our sin, in spite of our inability to accomplish what the law requires, we believe that Christ is working on our behalf to accomplish in and through us what we in our own strength cannot. That the gospel of Jesus Christ is not merely a topical ointment that we apply to the external symptoms of our sin. Rather, we believe that the gospel is heart transplant surgery.
Listen to the words that God speaks to His people in Ezekiel 36. And let us to listen carefully to what God promises that he will do and what then we are called to do…..
In Ezekiel 36 starting in verse 25 God says……
 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.  You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.  And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you.  I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations.
Notice that all of the action verbs in this passage belong to God. The only thing God’s people are instructed to do here is to “dwell” and to “be”.
What is the story of Scripture telling us about dealing with our sin? It is telling us that we cannot. But the gospel shouts aloud the glorious message that our God is able and joyfully willing to extend grace and mercy to those deserving of wrath.
There is One who is able. Not only is He able, He is willing and He is ready. Not only is He willing, able and ready, this is the entire reason that He has come, to bind up those of us wounded by our own sin and the sins of others, to set the captives free, those who feel enslaved to do and to say the things that we do not want to do or to say, and to show us the way to holiness. Not through self-correction or self-sufficiency, not through simply trying harder to “be good”. But we do so through dwelling with Him. Through God himself removing a cold, dead heart of stone and replacing it with a warm, living heart of flesh. And this new heart that He places within us follows after him in pursuit of holiness.
This is a God-centered approach to dealing with sin. This is the gospel.