The problem with appeasement

By Richard A. Bolland
Special to The PREVIEW
There are literally thousands of religious groups all over the world. Within Christianity, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different institutional bodies around the globe. In reality, there are only two different ways that any of these groups promote seeking after a positive relationship with God. There are religions and denominations that seek to appease God with their behavior, gifts or attitudes; and there is Christianity which tells us that you can’t appease God no matter how hard you try and so the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, had to appease God on our behalf.
Within the first group (appeasement), efforts to appease God range from making offerings or sacrifices to their deity, doing one’s best to behave well or be obedient or making a willful decision to believe in God or simply, “Trying to do the best I can.” Appeasement comes in any of a myriad of forms of human-based effort.
The Bible, on the other hand, clearly teaches that all humans are corrupt and sinful, even from the moment of conception (Psalm 51:3-5). Sin isn’t merely what we do or fail to do, it’s what we are. We commit sins because we are sinners, not the other way around. We weren’t created this way, but our first parents, Adam and Eve, decided that they wanted to be “like God” and thus cast humanity into spiritual chaos and sin. St. Paul describes the fallen nature of man with painful clarity as being “dead” (Ephesians 2:1-5), “blind” (II Corinthians 4:1-4) and “enemies of God” (Romans 5:6-11). That is the ugly truth.
Herein lies the problem with appeasement. You can’t “un-sin.” Additionally, you can’t play comparison games with God by claiming to be at least better than Adolf Hitler or anyone else. Moreover, as fallen sinners, we are rightly damned to hell before a holy and righteous God and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it any more than a dead man can do something about his death. This is the reality of the nature of fallen mankind.
But as Scripture also tells us, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” — (I Thessalonians 2:3-4, ESV).
Thus, our Creator does not leave us without hope in our sin. Indeed, what He provides through His Son is the complete forgiveness of our sins and the righteous life that we are unable to live.
How? By our Lord’s suffering and death, He has rendered full and complete payment for our sin (Hebrews 9:26) and, by His perfect life, He gives to us His own righteousness (Philippians 3:7-11).
And so we live by faith in Christ and what He has accomplished on our behalf and not on the sinful imperfection or attempted appeasement of God in our own lives. This is the Gospel of Christianity. It is the only hope of sinners before a holy and righteous God.
In faith, then, we are now free to live in the righteousness of Christ as He works in our lives to serve the needs of our neighbor. This is not a way of appeasing God, but a way of reflecting what He has given to us. Christianity is really about Christ, and not so much about the Christian.

This story was posted on February 1, 2018.