Late last evening, I came across an excellent article by C.J. Mahaney entitled Interrogating the Legalist Within. "Legalism is seeking to achieve
forgiveness from God, justification before God, and acceptance by God,
through our obedience to God."
Just yesterday afternoon, I had been confessing that same tendency to God. As you walk with Christ longer, our dependence on Christ is often dulled by our environment and so we flip obedience from a response to the gospel to the means of God’s approval of you.
Legalism is insidious. It appears when you’re not expecting it and as soon as you let your guard down. I fear that we may have a fair number of Christian legalists in our own church. Some, like me, are fighting it; many are unaware of it, and some have grown so attached to that style of righteousness that they grumble and complain at others whose lives don’t attain to their self-made spirituality. Where do you fall in the mix?
To help assess your heart and to aid in the fight against legalism, take time to read C.J.’s article. It’s helpful and full of wise counsel. Here’s the intro to whet your appetite.
Pause for a moment and remember.
Remember where you were, and what it was like … that moment when
you understood the cross for the first time … when you really grasped
what happened at Calvary, and what it truly means that Christ died for your sins, what it truly means to be saved.
Remember the passion for Jesus you had? Remember the joy and
overwhelming gratitude to God that came from knowing your sins were
Now think about your Christian life today. Have you moved on to
other things? Maybe you’re primarily focused on fighting lust, or
pursuing godly relationships with the opposite sex, or battling pride,
or cultivating patience.
If so, life is probably quite different for you now. Perhaps you
often lack joy, or wonder why you can’t make greater progress in
spiritual maturity, or feel condemned when you sin. So you study your
Bible more, or attend another small-group meeting, or serve in new ways
at church, or read the latest book.
All these practices are good. Some are vital. But let me suggest the likely root cause of your problems… [Read more]