How to Preach the Gospel to Yourself

Drew Goodmanson
Thu, Apr 29, 2010

The gospel isn't just a means of salvation; it is the very way we grow as Christians. When Paul wrote his letters to the Galatians or Corinthians, he addressed each problem in the Christian community with the gospel.

For example, Peter, who stopped eating with the Gentiles, wasn't told to "stop," which is legalism; he was told that his actions weren't in line with the gospel. His motivation for change was a reminder of who Christ is and what He has done. We are set free by grace.

From this understanding comes the phrase, "I need to preach the gospel to myself." It refers to the need to go through the same process Paul did when he addressed sin. But how do we preach the gospel to ourselves?

Part One: Down the Slope of Repentance

Objective: To see and confess that I am a bigger sinner than I thought.

1. See and own your sin.
Examine yourself in the mirror of God's Word—your negative emotions and attitudes, the responses of others toward you. Guard yourself against sin's deceitfulness—the tendency to water down God's standard, compare yourself to others, shift blame, or commit to trying harder.

2. See the sin beneath the sin.
Don't move too quickly to confess and receive forgiveness for the surface sin (cheap view of grace, "I'm just a sinner" attitude). If you are anxious, yes, go to Philippians 4; but what is causing your anxiousness? Push the "Why?" question until you find whatever it is you are looking to, other than Jesus, for meaning and value in life—your "functional messiah."

3. Expose the idols of your heart. Idols always disappoint.
They are weak. They can't deliver when you succeed; they can only raise the bar. They can't forgive you when you fail; they can only lower the boom.

They are harmful. They hurt you spiritually, emotionally, and physically. They hurt others by undermining your ability to love.

They are grievous. By going after these idols/other lovers, you are saying to God, "Jesus is not enough. I also need _________ in order to be happy."

Conclusion: I am a much bigger sinner than I thought. I am a worthy recipient of God's judgment. Trying harder won't cut it. I am helpless and hopeless in myself. BUT there is One ...

Part Two: Up the Slope of Faith

Objective: To thank God that Jesus is a much bigger Savior than I thought.

1. View repentance as a gift. Pray for the gift of repentance. Do not "try" to stop sinning; ask God to change your heart. If the Holy Spirit does not address your heart, your repentance is only horizontal, and true gospel change will not happen. You may change for a season by your own will power, but eventually you will become resentful or fall back into worshiping false idols, which are your true functional messiahs.See Jesus as the only true Savior. Jesus lived for you. Think about and give thanks for specific ways He has lived obediently where you have failed.

2. Jesus died for you. Think about Jesus' death on the cross for your specific sins and idolatry. Thank God that your sin has been punished once and for all.

God sees you in Jesus. Think about how God sees you, clothed with Jesus' perfect righteousness. Thank Him specifically for how He provides for you in Christ—ways your idols promised but could never deliver.

Jesus lives in you. Thank God that He does not leave you to live the Christian life on your own, but the Spirit of Christ now dwells in you. Ask Him to live His righteous life through you, specifically in the areas where you have confessed sin.

3. Embrace the gospel as your motivation for living. Embrace and know that the gospel is how you change (2 Cor. 3:18b), it is the gospel that empowers you to serve (2 Cor. 3:5), and it is through the gospel that you meet God (2 Cor. 3:18a; 4:6).

"Thanks to the pastors of Harbor, Tim Keller at Redeemer Church, and David Fairchild at Kaleo Church for the ideas presented in this article." (Excerpted from "Preaching the Gospel to Yourself," article found at