(excerpt from "Religious Trojan Horse" by Brannon Howse)
"The New Religious Right uses the biblical theme of salt and light to argue that we are called to focus time, energy, and money on Christian activism. Yet the overarching message of Matthew 5:13–16 is not about Christian activism but about proclaiming the Gospel. In Matthew 5 Jesus says: “You are the light of the world… Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Christians should be involved in good works such as defending the lives of the unborn, caring for widows and orphans, and running crisis pregnancy centers. The reason, though, is that people will see
the transforming power of the Gospel in our lives. Good works when used as a platform for the Gospel offers unbelievers the chance to see the light of Christ within our lives and to give glory to our heavenly Father.
Christian activism apart from the Gospel has no eternal value and is, in fact, a sin because we are not obeying God and fulfilling the Great Commission. When Christians call on unbelievers to conform
to a certain “religious standard” without faith and repentance in Jesus Christ, we run the risk of leading them to believe that becoming a Christian means simply living a good life. This ignores the central fact that “there is none that are good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).
Christians and the Church, not the civil government, are called to be salt and light. Romans 13 declares that government and laws exist to deter evil. The government causes lawbreakers to fear the consequences of their actions, but just because a man is afraid of the law and so decides not to steal, rape, or murder, that does not save him from the eternal wrath of God. No matter how many pieces of legislation become law and no matter the number of laws to which the unsaved conform, they are still lost in sin and need to hear the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.
When the Church takes on the role of morality police to penalize with a loss of sales, for example, the immoral actions of a company run by unbelievers, we are only addressing the symptoms of their unsaved condition. On the other hand, when Christians are spiritual lifeguards who preach the Gospel instead of moralism, we address the root cause of man’s immoral actions. Getting to this root of the problem is the world’s only hope. How can people change their values and conduct unless they change their worldviews? Jeremiah 13:23 echoes this impossibility: “Can the Ethiopian
change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil?”
How can the unregenerate be anything less than they are? Their worldviews are the foundation of their values, and their values are the foundation of their conduct. Until their unbiblical worldviews are transformed into a biblical view through faith and repentance in Jesus Christ, they are slaves to sin.
Moralism is just as dangerous and deadly as outright liberalism. As John MacArthur has said:
It makes no difference if an unsaved person is for or against abortion, a political liberal or a conservative, a prostitute or a police officer, he will spend eternity apart from God unless he repents and believes the gospel.The hardest people to reach with the Gospel are not prostitutes,drug addicts, or reprobates who know they deserve to go to hell, but the morally upright who think they are good people that deserve heaven."