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1 Corinthians 1:30
A food company released the perfect cake mix. It required no additives. Just mix some water with the powder, pop in the oven and prepare yourself for a treat. Only one problem: nobody bought it! Puzzled, the manufacturer conducted surveys, identified the problem and reissued the cake with a slight alteration - add one egg. Sales skyrocketed.
Why are we like that? What makes us want to add to what's already complete? Paul asked the same question. Legalists angered him by adding their work to Christ's finished work. Not much, just one small rule, "you must be circumcised to be saved." How does Paul respond? With a verbal blowtorch! "Watch out for those [dogs] who do evil...who demand to cut the body" (Php 3:2 NCV). "Evil," "dogs." We dismiss legalists as harmless; after all, they promote morality. They don't dismiss Christ, they trust in Him - a lot. But - they don't trust in Him alone! They look at the cross and say, "Great work, Jesus. Sorry you couldn't finish it, but I'll take up the slack." So Paul writes, "How is is that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? (Gal 4:9 NIV).
Legalism is miserable because legalism is endless. It leaves you with the anxiety that having done everything you know, you might not have done enough. Can our efforts make us more worthy of salvation? If so, we get a little of the credit, and deep down that's what our proud heart wants. No, salvation is not about what you do, it's about trusting only in what He's already done