I want share with you something from Mark Maulding.
A lot of discipleship may be rooted in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Let me explain what I mean. The knowledge of good and evil passed down to every human being from Adam and Eve has programmed us to think a certain way. The world thinks, “I’m a good person if I do good things. I’m a bad person if I do bad things'” The Christian world thinks, “I’m a good Christian if I do the good things the Bible says to do. I’m a bad Christian if I sin.” All of that thinking is law-based instead of grace-based.
Discipleship often has the goal of Christian behavior modification using Scripture to exhort a Christian to act good instead of bad. The focus is on changing behavior, not replacing the knowledge of good and evil thinking with Tree of Life thinking. In one sense, you might say this discipleship is trying to get Christians to jump from the bad side of the tree to the good side. But the good side is still the same tree and the fruit is legalism. I don’t think those who disciple this way have evil motives or are aware of what they are doing. They just do it because that is how they were taught, I was once one of them!
God wants our discipleship to be rooted in the Tree of Life so He can produce the fruit of the Spirit. This means, he wants to replace our stinking thinking with grace-based thinking. No wonder Paul didn’t tell the Roman Christians to do anything for the first eleven chapters! He strategically explained the Gospel of grace line by line. He only told them to believe and yield to God in Romans 6:11 and 14 Consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
Then, in chapter 12, he tells them to let Christ live through their bodies and to live with a renewed mind. What he meant was, he wanted them to let the clear Gospel message he had written to them push out their knowledge based thinking with grace based thinking. After making it clear to them that they have a new identity in Christ which loves to please God, he tells them how believing this will change their behavior to what pleases God.
Do you ever find yourself tired of trying to change your behavior to line up with Scripture? Are you worn out? That’s what burned me out 25 years ago until God broke through my garrison of legalistic discipleship and began to replace it with grace discipleship. The first one almost killed me. The latter has given me a life of freedom, I could have never imagined, which I am still growing in.