In addressing the trend of more “practical preaching,” Michael Horton in Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel for the American Church says that our intuition tells us that upon hearing more messages like that we’ll improve. When our diet consists of these type of messages, exhortations to follow Jesus, we typically don’t. Horton writes:
But bring me into the chamber of a holy God, where I am completely undone, and tell me about what God has done in Christ to save me; tell me about the marvelous indicatives of the gospel – God’s surprising interventions of salvation on the stage of history despite human rebellion – and the flickering candle of faith is inflamed, giving light to others.
The law guides, but it does not give. For all who seek to be acceptable to God by their obedience, love, holiness, and service, the call to obedience only condemns. It shows us what we have not done, and the more we hear it properly, the more we actually lose our moral self-confidence and cling to Christ. It stops our inner spin machine that creates a false view of God and ourselves, (pg. 132).
Horton says that the “proper preaching of the law (commands in the Old and New Testament) will lead us to despair of ourselves, but only so that we may finally look outside ourselves and look to Christ.”