Jake Walker | Category: The Christian Life
Most of you know that the parable of the Prodigal Son is a beautiful picture of how a sinner is reconciled to a loving God through Christ. In the parable, two brothers reject their father in different ways. The younger brother goes the way of irreligion, which is rejecting or ignoring God and living anyway one wants. The elder brother goes the way of moralism, which is to obey the rules or law to be accepted by God. The errors of moralism and irreligion are enemies of the gospel, because they keep people from truly embracing the work, death, and resurrection of Christ.
The Bible speaks to both moralism and irreligion. Ultimately, there are only those who worship Christ and those who reject him. At the same time, people reject God either through moralism or irreligion. In the gospels, Jesus confronts both the errors of moralism and irreligion (i.e. Luke 18; Luke 7; Mark 5). Jesus continually engages the gospel with those living pagan or irreligious lives (i.e. Romans, tax collectors, and adulterers) and those living moralistic lives, such as the Jews, Pharisees and Sadducees. The apostle Paul also confronts both errors (i.e. see Romans 1-3). Paul says, “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.” Moralists stumble over Christ because they continue to trust in themselves for salvation, while Gentiles, the irreligious, think the gospel is foolish. People still reject the gospel in the same ways they did 2000 years ago.
The gospel is this: God accepts me in Christ; therefore, I obey. The irreligious younger brother looked for fulfillment by ignoring and running from his father. The moralistic elder brother looked for acceptance through obedience to his father. We see a beautiful picture of the gospel when the Father runs to embrace the prodigal son who has returned home. The Father pleads with the elder brother to come into the party, “31And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” The parable shows us that God calls both the moralist and irreligious to repentance and faith in Christ.
The enemies of moralism and irreligion are alive and well Pittsburgh. Let’s pray for the transforming power of Jesus to free our neighbors, friends, family members, and coworkers from the enemies of moralism and irreligion. We do this by grasping the truth in our innermost being that God accepts us in Christ, which will compel us to call both the moralist and irreligious into the banquet of God.
 I am not saying all tax collectors, adulterers, and Romans in the New Testament are irreligious or that all Jews, Pharisees, and Sadducees are moralists, but this does seem to be the general pattern of the NT.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Co 1:23.
 The Holy Bible, Lk 15:31–32.
Picture Credit: Wayward: Prodigal Son/Facebook
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