Episode 51: How to Stop Using the Gospel of Christ Against Yourself

Episode Summary

Christ's message is one of love and hope. But, as Christians, we often have a tendency to use his message and his work against ourselves. 

In this episode I'll explain the ways we use his gospel to beat ourselves up, to despise ourselves for our faults and weaknesses, to judge ourselves and others, and, ultimately to inhibit our growth and learning. 

This new awareness will allow you to question the unhelpful interpretations your brain might offering you and give you a new way to think about yourself, your earth life experience, and your discipleship.

Episode Tools and Questions


We come to earth and here on earth many of us are told or taught about Christ and his gospel and his love and the message of hope and salvation that he offers each of us. 

But as we learn the gospel, it passes through the filter of our very human brains and this often changes the gospel from something that was designed to bless us and help us, to something that we use against ourselves, something that we beat ourselves up with, or something we use against ourselves and others. 

Here are the most common ways that I see our brain is using the gospel against ourselves:

1. We use Christ's standard to prove we are failing, that we are so far from the standard that we will never make it and we will never be acceptable.

Instead of watching how Christ loved and lived to produce awe in us and to inspire us and motivate us, we use it as an indictment of where we are and a final verdict on our capacity to change and become.

We have to recognize that our distance from the standard doesn’t say anything about us fundamentally as individuals—it shows us where we have opportunity to grow and work.  And if we see it that way, we have the chance to become stronger. 

And in fact, that is exactly what this life is all about…not to be strong already in love, but to grow our capacity in love.

  • Remind yourself that you are here to improve.  I like telling my brain "I’m not here to do it right.  I came to do it wrong.  As many times as I need to get better at it."  And that thought that I came to do it wrong as many times as necessary makes me feel compassionate with myself and motivated to keep trying. 

2.  We don’t use the earth life experience as a classroom, learning, experience.  We use it as a sudden death, final exam. 

When we think we shouldn’t do it wrong we don’t allow for the learning we came to do.  We keep ourselves in a perpetual state of shame and condemnation of ourselves, rather than understanding that we need to do it wrong.  We need to understand that doing it wrong is the way, is the plan, and God prepared for it. 

  • Remind yourself that you were always supposed to do it wrong and the idea that you need to do it right to be good enough is the lie.

3. We use the commandments as sticks to beat ourselves with rather than tools to make earth life easier.

When we tell ourselves we "should do" something, we drop into shame, which causes us to hide and not seek to have God more in our lives.

Think about why we were given commandments in the first place.  Why does God create laws or recommend ways of living through the scripture or through the prophets?  I believe that everything he gives us is because he loves us.  He wants to make it easier on us. 

  • Recognize that "should" only produces shame.  Should is a lie. 
  • And then step back and ask why.  Why does he recommend living your life this way?  Why does he think this will be better for you? 
  • Ask yourself if that’s what you want too. 
  • And then act on what you really want.  Instead of "should," act from desire. And see what changes for you.

4. We use the gospel against ourselves as we judge ourselves and judge others.

Judgment of ourselves and others feels terrible. The truth is that everybody is doing it wrong and they are supposed to.  They need to.  They need to do it wrong. 

  • Remember that when we judge others for the way we live the gospel we aren't living the gospel, and we are missing the point of the gospel. 
  • Ask yourself, "What if they are supposed to do this wrong and that is exactly right?"
  • Dropping judgement allows you to drop your pain and feel love.

5.  We keep a salvation scorecard and try to earn our saving.

We use the gospel and the “rules” to add and subtract and see if we’ve done enough to pass some mysterious threshold of "enough" to quality for salvation. 

You can’t qualify for it.  It is a not your job.  Your job is to learn and grow and become.  The salvation is free and nothing you can do pays for it.

We are using our finite brains to keep score of an infinite progression and it just doesn’t work that way. 

  • When your brain says you aren’t good enough or worthy enough for salvation, remember Christ.  That he is infinitely worthy and our salvation is his job.  It's none of your business.
  • Our business is becoming what we can through this earth life experience.  One choice, one opportunity, one experience at a time.

6.  We try to access the gospel of love from a place of hate and self-loathing for ourselves. 

We can never access Christ's love from a place of self-hate.  It's easy to want to use hating all your faults and flaws to get you closer to him, but in reality, any hate moves us farther away. 

To access divine love, we have to be in a position to feel love and we can’t do that when we think painful, hateful, unkind thoughts about ourselves.

  • Direct your thoughts away from self-loathing towards the goodness and love of Christ.  Focusing our thoughts on his love makes us feel love and that love creates the most powerful change possible.
  • Ask yourself, how could it change things if I didn't condemn myself?

Christ made it possible for each of us to be able to come to earth and learn and try over and over again.  The opportunity that that gives us to grow in an eternal way is one of the most incredible gifts  of being a human being and a disciple of Christ…and you never have to use that gift against yourself!

Episode Notes

Mentioned on the podcast:

"...may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever."

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