GREG SIMASFaith-Leadership-Culture
The Third Circle

The Third Circle

Gospel clarity is crucial. There is a growing concern that the centrality of the gospel message is muddied. A growing entitlement culture along with a consumer-driven lifestyle  is creating  what I call “the third circle.”

I told someone recently that Jesus is not a piece of luggage we through in the trunk of our car as we make the journey through life. He is also not someone we put in our back pockets and pull Him out when we need something.

Jesus is Lord. When we asked Him into our life, we willingly yielded to His leadership in exchange for His love and life both now and throughout eternity.

My Story

I received the Lord at the age of sixteen and everything changed. His love filled my heart and a desire to know and serve the Lord became my chief goal in life. Nobody handed me a rule book or a long list of do’s and don’ts. Simply, the things I used to love (ungodly living) I started hating and the things I hated (like going to church) I started loving.

I really could not explain it fully. I knew nothing of theology, the work of the Spirit or sanctification. What I did know was something changed so powerfully on inside of me that it clearly impacted my thoughts and behavior.

The Four Spiritual Laws

Soon after receiving the Lord I came across The Four Spiritual Laws. The Four Spiritual laws really helped me understand what salvation was all about. It is written by Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1952 and this tool is still used widely by many believers.

The two circle illustrations (below) represent our life before Christ and after Christ.

Circle 1: The Self-Directed Life

Self Directed Life

S – Self is on the throne

Cross – Christ is outside the life

Circles – Interests are directed by self,

often resulting in discord and frustration.

Circle 2: The Christ-Directed Life

2 christcolored copy

Cross – Christ is in the life and on the throne

S – Self is yielding to Christ.

Circles – Interests are directed by Christ,

resulting in harmony with God’s plan

When we receive the Lord, Jesus is to always be enthroned in our lives and our interests are to stay in harmony with His Lordship. The more we know and love the Lord the more consistent the above reality becomes. The love of God is being poured into our hearts and His love is impacting every area of our life for His glory and unto His likeness.

The Third Circle

A third circle is now appearing. I tried to illustrate it below. The circle represents people who claim to be living for the Lord but are willfully living for themselves. They continually live their Christian life by pleasing themselves first, then God. It’s a weird consumer-entitlement-ungodly grace-life dipped in Christian(ese) and it seems to be somewhat pervasive.

Circle 3: The Self-Centered Life

3 newselfcolored copy

S- Self is the center focus and on the throne.

Cross – Attempts to use Christ to serve self.

Circles – Interests are directed to self for self

resulting in a frustrating attempt to use God to satisfy personal desires.

“It’s All About Me”

“It’s all about me” is the bottom line of those living in this circle; my rights, my freedoms, my prerogatives, my desires, my choices.

I am not talking about our occasional fight between the flesh and the spirit, something we all struggle with. Those found in this circle have made an intentional choice to please themselves first and Jesus second. In fact, Jesus is often used to get what they want.

They pick and choose what they like and don’t like in the Bible and live accordingly. We see it revealed  in their lifestyles; ongoing adultery, promiscuity and co-habitation to name a few.

The Third Circle Will Never Satisfy

This “third circle” will never satisfy anyone. Run from it as fast as you can. Living to please ourselves and using Jesus as a means to that end is profane, dishonoring and unfulfilling. In fact, this kind of living slowly removes the wonder of His grace and positions us to try to manipulate the very God we claim is Lord.

Live With Jesus Enthroned In Your Heart

I understand I am royalty, His son and a joint-heir with Jesus. I know God loves me and truly cares for me. I realize that I am truly valuable to the Lord and He has set His affections on me. He celebrates me and dances over me with joy. I realize all this and more.

But the truth is, it’s not all about me,  it’s ALL about Him. He is Lord and I am not. My part is vital, yes, but  it stays under the Lordship of Jesus. This is proven by honoring Him with my words, my thoughts and actions trusting that He knows how I am wired to live.

Am I perfect, no way, but I choose to  live daily to become more like the Lord.

Gal. 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

I don’t know about you, but the very least I can do is to bring Him honor, praise and glory in exchange for what He has done for me. I choose to always have Him on the throne of my heart and nowhere else.

Ending Thoughts

1. I would love to get your feedback on this post. What are your thoughts regarding “the third circle? Agree/Disagree? Share your response in the comment area below

2. Did you find this post helpful? Take a second and use the social media/email buttons below to share this post with your network of friends. Much appreciated!

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  • “Gospel clarity is crucial. There is a growing concern that the centrality of the gospel message is muddied.”

    Greg, I thought this article was going to focus on the above opening
    statements and was excited that you were writing about this very
    urgently important topic. As I have been frantically searching for
    sermons online that are teaching the “true grace/gospel message”. But
    then you moved from that to “people using Jesus to serve themselves”
    which is also a pretty major problem today. I agree. However, I’d like
    to know more about how to recognize a false grace/gospel message and how
    to keep myself from being deceived by it.

    My thoughts about the Third Circle? I
    certainly don’t want to be one of those people who are using
    God/Jesus/Holy Spirit/Christianity/The Gospel/Church/Other Believers/The
    Bible to serve myself. I haven’t necessarily been aware that others
    were being this way. But it may be more prevalent in leadership rather
    than the body of Christ as a whole. Could that be a possibility? These
    people in the “Third Circle” are saved right? Then they need a wake-up
    call, I would think. But how do we “use” God really? We are all learning
    and growing. But I guess if people are hearing an unclear or muddied
    gospel, as you mentioned at the onset of this blog, they can become
    self-serving because a gospel like that is not going to be
    Christ-centered. Right?

    • Hello Lisa. This post actually reveals a bit of this “false grace” or I prefer to call it, “hyper-grace” message that is prevalent today. The focus of those in “the third circle” is the thinking that they can do whatever they want and still love Jesus and call Him Lord. It’s the same problem Paul faced in Romans 6:1,2. Now, I cannot possibly discuss every argument around this issue but what I am simply saying here is one cannot dupe themselves into believing they can willfully and habitually live contrary to the moral absolutes of scripture and at the same time declare that Jesus is Lord of their life. These two statements are simply not congruent with each other.
      With that said, I completely understand the work of sanctification in the believer and the joy and struggle of becoming more Christlike. God loves our weakness as long as we are desiring to love Him in obedience. The point is, as believers our number one desire/goal in life is to love the Lord. conform to his image and likeness and seek to please Him in all that we say and do.
      How does one “use” God? Well, honestly no one can. It would probably be better to say, “how does one try and manipulate God?” If the ultimate motivation is to please yourself, you will want the benefits of the Kingdom without the responsibilities. You reduce love down to law. These folks minimize Scripture to fit their desired lifestyle (what benefits them). If this is so, they live for Him up to a certain point. When his Word interferes with their wants they simple ignore His Word. This reveals a huge heart problem to say the least. I’m afraid Jesus doesn’t strike these kinds of deals. Jesus is the eternal Lord of glory and we have surrendered our lives completely to him. This is exactly why this kind of thinking and living is so absurd.
      Let me reiterate again the second paragraph. He loves the heart that lives sold out to Him and for Him. 😉
      I hope I’ve made a few things clearer. Let me know if there are topics you would like me to go after in future posts.

      • I choose circle #2 🙂 I’m just not sure sometimes what my life should look like or how to know that I’m fully engaged in or truly cooperating with what God wants to do in and through my life.

        One more question. Can a person know for sure they are being led by the Holy Spirit with every decision they make? If so, how? Ok, that was two questions. Lol.

        • Hi Lisa. No worries. If you seek to please the Lord then He will guide you in all things. The questions you are asking are good, it keeps you in close relationship with Him. And thanks for the one (I mean two) other questions. Hopefully I can get this in a future post. 😉

  • I do agree with you about the 3rd wheel. This breaks my heart. I call the 3rd wheel Club House Christian’s. Lord help us!
    Good word Pg!

    • Hi Cindy. I am simply writing what I have been observing now for a few years both here and abroad. My point is to make us aware of what is happening around us and to pay attention to if for the sake of protecting our own (and those whom we love) walk with the Lord. 🙂


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