~Most of us are naturally “doers.”
Then they asked him, “What must we DO to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.” (John 6:28–29)
Notice: they are asking Jesus what they must do to live a life that pleases God. And Jesus answers that the work of God is to believe. In other words, the Christian life is not about doing, it is about believing.
We gladly embrace the next project, the next challenge, the next assignment. So our pursuit of Christian maturity produces a lot of busy effort, but little lasting change. Why is this so? Because we are doing too much and believing too little.
You see, our surface sins are only symptoms of a deeper problem. Underneath every external sin is a heart idol—something that has hidden the true God in our thoughts. To paraphrase Martin Luther, every sin is in some way a breaking of the first commandment (“You shall have no other gods before me”). Luther wrote, “As [the First] Commandment is the very first, highest and best, from which all the others proceed...so also its work, that is, faith in God’s favor at all times, is the very first, highest and best, from which all other [works] must proceed...”
The key to gospel-driven transformation is learning to repent of the “sin beneath the sin”—the deeply rooted idolatry and unbelief that drive our more visible sins.
Reflecting on the “sin beneath our sin” shows why the gospel is essential for true heart change. It’s possible to repent of surface sins for a lifetime yet never address the deeper heart issues behind them! When I sin, I have broken the first commandment. An idol has taken God’s place in my soul. I am trusting in that idol, rather than in God, to be my Savior. I need to apply the gospel by (1) repenting of my deep heart idolatry and (2) believing—that is, turning my mind toward the specific gospel promises that break the power of my characteristic idols.~
~exerpt from "The Gospel Centered Life" (a study i am currently taking part in with a small group of women)