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The Real Reasons Our Society Is So Divided

3. The pride of grace

Maybe worst of all, Spurgeon said, is the pride that comes from having lived a moral or religious life—or, at the very least, having avoided certain shameful sins or mistakes.

You feel a sense of pride because you have lived a good life; you’ve never been to prison or fired from your job. You didn’t get pregnant before you were married. You come from a good family, and your parents never got divorced.

And so now you feel a sense of distinction, even superiority, over others who have gone through those things.

But, friend, do you not understand the gospel?

In Christ, there are no “good people” or “bad people,” “winners” or “losers,” “people who have it together” or “dysfunctional people.” There are only bad, dead, sin-sick rebels, without God and without hope in this world, whom God saves by a sheer act of grace. The “pride of grace” is really a denial of grace.

John Owen said that the seed of every sin is in every human heart. Circumstances and temptations and relationships water that seed. But just because God in his grace kept you from heinous sin doesn’t make you different from or superior to others. If you hear of someone else’s sin and think, “Well, I know I’d never do anything like that,” then I can assure you that you know nothing of grace or the gospel of Jesus.

Before God, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). There is none righteous, none who instinctively seek after God—not one! That truth destroys any false distinctions between us. As it has often been said, the ground is level at the foot of the cross.

The gospel—that we are justified by faith alone in Christ’s finished work—destroys all these types of pride. Therefore, in Christ, we have the freedom to unite.

This article originally appeared here.

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J.D. Greear, Ph.D., is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastors the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Tagged by Outreach magazine as one of the fastest growing churches in America, the Summit has grown in the past 8 years from 400 to over 5,000 each weekend. The Summit Church is deeply involved in global church planting, having undertaken the mission to plant 1000 churches in the next 40 years. J.D. has authored Breaking the Islam Code and the upcoming Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary.