Here’s another quote from the forthcoming book:
Nearly all religions in the world agree that people face some sort of problem, even if the problem is merely that they don’t think they have a problem. And most religions offer a solution to fix it. The solution is usually found in ourselves by applying ourselves to work even harder. But according to the Bible, the problem is us. And it is not merely that we’ve forgotten something and need to be reminded, but rather that we have rebelled against God and have been unfaithful to Him. This rebellion and unfaithfulness make us liable to punishment. This punishment is eternal separation from God in a place of eternal torment, which the Bible calls Hell. We need someone to take our guilt and our shame and restore our true nature as an image of God. Trying harder won’t work. We need a savior.
But some religions disdain the Bible’s insistence on the need for a savior. They interpret the need for a savior as laziness: Christians are not willing to work and earn their way to God. They describe the human condition like this: We are all indebted. But we are not so destitute as to be unable to pay off the creditors. However, we must work extremely hard all the time. Now if that really were the situation, to accept help from the outside would be laziness. But what if, in a strange twist of circumstances, the more you worked, the more you became in debt? You owe $10,000. You work really hard for a month and earn $500. But you now owe $10,500. You work really hard again, and this time you are $11,000 in debt. At that point you realize it is impossible to get out of debt on your own because you have no way to turn out anything positive.
This economic situation is exactly what the Bible describes. The reason why the more work creates more debt is that God has a different standard for what “good work” actually is. His standard for good work involves people depending on Him to reflect His character in the context of a relationship. But once we have been alienated from God because of sin, there is no way to depend upon Him to reflect Him. Apart from God, the good works that we try to accomplish are actually the same as trying to be “like God” the way Satan offered Adam and Eve to be “like God,” a way that competes with God for His glory. This type of work, no matter how much it might contribute to the goodness of society in general will never please God and will, therefore, be the grounds for condemnation.
The reason the Bible says we cannot fix ourselves is not to allow for laziness, but to preserve greatness and glory of God. Trying to earn our way to God by our own effort is to make ourselves equal with God and rob God of His own glory and honor. But to depend upon God for salvation is to magnify God as good, holy, righteous, and loving.