No Matter What They Told You, You Are Already Perfect: The Most Common of Errors—Grace, Works, and Mormons
There isn’t a religion in the world that doesn’t agree that there is something wrong with us. Humanity is flawed, corrupt, and capable of great evil. Within each of us, a great capacity toward evil exists. How this evil is quenched and how our souls and bodies are redeemed is debated, discussed, and is the topic upon which so many disagree.
But at the core of what the Gospel is and what Christ Jesus, God in the flesh, did for us is incomparable to all the rest.
Our effort and goal as humans is to keep up our good deeds—spraying the perfume of religion on the corpse of humanity.
The truth is, at the core of us all, there is a tendency within us to work and earn our redemption. We try to chant, pray, and meditate new paths of holiness as we try to pull our crippled souls up by their boot-straps.
Even among Christians, we like to claim that it is all about Christ—but then in the next breath we create all sorts of qualifications and deeds that must be accomplished.
There is literally nothing that one can do more than what Christ has already done. And because of what he has done in us, we are made new. And from that newness, good works flow forth.
“For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation—created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” — Ephesians 2:10
A transformed life looks like an obedient and work-laden life. These good works are the natural product of being made new, just as a healthy tree can not help but produce sweet fruit.
But in many Christians’ minds, this truth is reversed. And this error is the same which all other religions believe. First we must be good before we are good. We must obey before we are made holy.
This is a lie and a false gospel.
It is an inversion of the truth which is spoken through the scripture. It is the same error which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches, that we must act first and then God fills in the rest.
“For we know that it is by grace that we have been saved, after all we do” — 2 Nephi 25:23
Christ is not a God of the gaps, filling in all that we fail to fill ourselves. He did not redeem us in part—but in whole. He made us wholly new now, not later after our works—and our good deeds flow out of what he has done. They are his deeds and his good works—things we never would have wanted to do ourselves in our base nature.
And while we may agree with this in word, do we agree with this in deed?
Do I really believe this?
If I do, there is no place for me to think that God is disappointed or that if I chant, pray, and meditate, I can become more holy. No amount of effort can bring us closer to God. We are already perfect, covered by his blood perfectly right now.
This is the gospel—something radical, counter-intuitive, and offensive to all human reason. It was all done for us. There is nothing more to do but recognize and become aware of who we are in Christ.
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