From Chapter One of Martin & Deidre's book: 12 Steps to Destruction
IF JESUS IS TRULY THE ANSWER to life's problems and indeed the very source of life, why are both nonChristians and Christians looking for answers elsewhere?
NonChristians turn to the vast recovery movement because the programs offer hope, help, and promises of recovery. And there is no encouragement to believe in the God of the Bible, whom they have never understood or known. They don't turn to Christ because they have accumulated plenty of reasons not to. They remind themselves of Christians who have failed. Some have heard pastors say what they didn't want to hear. Furthermore, they cannot understand a God who might condemn anyone or offer such a narrow way. However, beyond all of the human excuses, the actual reason nonChristians do not turn to Christ is because their eyes and ears are closed to the merciful grace of God.
But why do Christians look for answers outside the Bible and their relationship with Jesus Christ? Paul wrestled with this problem in his letter to the Galatians. The Galatians had started out well in the Christian walk, but then, under the influence of the Judaizers, they lost confidence in the sufficiency of the gospel. In his salutation Paul reminds them of what Jesus had already accomplished for them:
Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Galatians:1:3-5)
Then Paul presents his concern:
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (Galatians:1:6-7)
The Galatians were attempting to be justified by the works of the law rather than by faith in what Jesus had accomplished for them by dying in their place and giving them new life through His resurrection. And this is true today.
Paul admonishes them and all who fall into this error:
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians:3:1-3)
In adding requirements, they entered into bondage. They evidently did not understand that just as they were saved through faith in the finished work of Christ, they were to live by faith in the finished and ongoing work of Christ in them. Therefore Paul reminds them and us: "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith" (Galatians:3:11).
People confuse the works of the law with the works of faith. Works of the law undermine a person's ability to please God, because they are limited to self-effort. Works of faith, however, are the fruit of faith that grow from the Holy Spirit who indwells and empowers believers to obey and please God. Trying to keep the law by way of the flesh leads to bondage and death, because no one can keep the law. The way of the Spirit is freedom to please God and leads to life eternal.
Just as the Galatians, some Christians start out well and then shift into works. They lose confidence in the efficacy of the gospel and the Holy Spirit. When they sin, they may admonish themselves and try to change through trying harder, rather than responding through faith (1 John:1:9). Or, when they sin, they may not think it really matters that much since they already have the righteousness of Christ. One slips off course by trying to do it on his own, and another doesn't bother to obey. Both responses lead to disaster and bondage; both are bondage to the world, the flesh, and the devil. Therefore Paul presents the solution to both errors:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. . . . For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. . . . This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians:5:1,13,16)
Just as Christians are saved by grace through faith, they are to walk by grace through faith. The very source of walking in the Spirit comes through the profound relationship of the believer to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Another reason why some who call themselves Christians may be looking for some program in place of (or in addition to) Christ is that they have misunderstood the gospel and what it entails. The gospel might not have been presented clearly. Rather than recognizing their need for a savior to save them from their own sins, they may have been looking for a savior who would save them from their circumstances and/or who would make life easy and pleasant. They may have misunderstood the need to die to self and thought that Jesus was there to make them feel better about themselves, build their self-esteem, and cater to their desires. While Jesus meets every true need for the believer, and while life in Him holds a marvelous new dimension of peace with God and the hope of eternal life, all problems do not simply vanish. Jesus being the answer to problems of living does not mean that He necessarily takes them away. He gives strength and purpose, and He even uses problems to make a believer more like Himself. Three well-known sections of Scripture speak to this issue: Romans:5:1-5; Romans:8:28-29; and 1 Corinthians:10:13.
Christians who expect God to take away problems and change circumstances may begin to think poorly of God and even begin to blame Him for allowing bad things to happen. They may resent God for letting them down. Those feelings come from a misunderstanding of the character of God, the sinful condition of man, and the influence of "the prince of the power of the air" on the circumstances of this world. Rather than getting angry with God or forgiving Him, which some wrongfully teach, Christians who have an erroneous view of God need to have their vision restored by the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit. God is holy, pure, righteous, and full of compassion and mercy. He has provided salvation for the lost through the death of His only begotten Son. And He fulfills all His promises.
--Martin & Deidre Bobgan