This then is the gospel with which we need to become thoroughly familiar and that we need to preach to ourselves every day. Jesus by His death and shed blood completely satisfied the justice of God and the claims of His broken law. By His perfect obedience He positively fulfilled the requirements of the law. Thus in both its precepts and penalty, the law of God in its most exacting requirements was fulfilled by Jesus. And He did this in our place as our representative and our substitute.

To preach the gospel to yourself, then, means that you continually face up to your own sinfulness and then flee to Jesus through faith in His shed blood and righteous life. It means that you appropriate, again by faith, the fact that Jesus fully satisfied the law of God, that He is your propitiation, and that God’s holy wrath is no longer directed toward you.

To preach the gospel to yourself means that you take at face value the precious words of Romans 4:7–8:

Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.

It means that you believe on the testimony of God that “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). It means you believe that “Christ redeemed [you] from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for [you], for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree’ ” (Galatians 3:13). It means you believe He forgave you all your sins (Colossians 2:13) and now “[presents you] holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:22).

Turning to the Old Testament, to preach the gospel to yourself means that you appropriate by faith the words of Isaiah 53:6:

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

It means that you dwell upon the promise that God has removed your transgressions from you as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), that He has blotted out your transgressions and remembers your sin no more (Isaiah 43:25). (See also Isaiah 38:17 and Micah 7:19 for other assurances of God’s forgiveness.) But it means you realize that all these wonderful promises of forgiveness are based upon the atoning death of Jesus Christ.

It is the death of Christ through which He satisfied the justice of God and averted from us the wrath of God that is the basis of all God’s promises of forgiveness. We must be careful that, in preaching the gospel to ourselves, we do not preach a gospel without a cross. We must be careful that we do not rely on the so-called unconditional love of God without realizing that His love can only flow to us as a result of Christ’s atoning death.

This is the gospel by which we were saved, and it is the gospel by which we must live every day of our Christian lives. In Romans 3:24, Paul said we are justified by grace, referring to what we might call our point-in-time salvation, the day we trusted in Christ. In Romans 5:2, however, Paul spoke of “this grace in which we now stand.” Here he refers to our day-to-day standing before God as being on the same basis as our justification—that is, on the basis of grace. But this grace—unmerited favor to those who deserve wrath—comes to us through the Lord Jesus Christ.

God is the “God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10) and is disposed to deal with us by grace, but not at the expense of His justice. But with justice satisfied, God can now deal with us in grace, both in our salvation and in our day-to-day relationship with Him.

This is a book about God’s grace and the pursuit of holiness. You can be sure of one thing, though: When you set yourself to seriously pursue holiness, you will begin to realize what an awful sinner you are. And if you are not firmly rooted in the gospel and have not learned to preach it to yourself every day, you will soon become discouraged and will slack off in your pursuit of holiness.

We will consider a number of factors that go into the pursuit of holiness in later chapters of this book. But none is more important than learning to preach the gospel to yourself every day.

Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2006), 58–60.