Here is a good article by Pastor Bob DeWaay.
Sanitization or Sanctification?
By Bob DeWaay
A reader phoned me recently and explained how he has seen churches depart from Bible teaching only to institute various programs for better living. He made an intriguing statement: "These programs do not sanctify, they sanitize." And he was absolutely right about that. Let me unpack that idea and show from Scripture that this is the case.
It is possible to use human wisdom and good advice programs in order to help people achieve better living. It is possible to get an alcoholic sober, an abusive husband to be considerate and caring, a compulsive gambler to quit, a person driven to make money at the expense of family to change priorities, and to help an unhappy person become happy. All of this can be done without any special work of grace. In fact, it can be done without religion at all.
I once heard a debate between two college professors, one an atheist and the other a Christian. Toward the end of the debate the atheist made an interesting statement. He said, "You do not need a god or religion to have a good, happy life. I have been happily married for many years, have wonderful children and grandchildren, live a moral life, and could not ask for anything more from life. I do not need religion and neither do you." Sadly, many Christians have so redefined Christianity that they would not know how to respond to such a statement. It is true that many people lead happy, relatively moral lives without God. But what they cannot obtain is right standing before the Holy God who created the universe.
When Christianity is reduced to a "better-living-through-religion" program it does not offer anything that some atheists (like the one in that debate) already have. It is telling when churches fill up their docket with seminars designed to help people solve life problems through general revelation. General revelation is available to all through the normal means of knowing. All societies have their own aphorisms which they pass along-their collective "good advice." It is not a sin to give people good advice gleaned from general revelation, but neither is to confuse that advice with Christ's mandate: "Teaching them to observe all that I commanded you" (Matthew 28:20a).