Beware Of Legalism

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By his doing you are in Christ Jesus
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

Used with permission from UCB Word for Today. Free issues are available here for the UK and Republic of Ireland.

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Comments

GrandmaK said…
Very true...I was most struck by the question, "What makes us want to add to what's already complete?" I have to ask myself, "Why am I not satisfied and why do I think I have to do or have it all?!" This is a grand reflection! Will consider this today! Cathy
Mike said…
Thanks Cathy... yes, being satisfied in Him is what we are called to, and to acknowledge that all we do should only be in response to His love for us and not a way for us to earn extra points! Surely that's good news :)
Sidharth said…
Wow, I love this. Did you write this Mike?

Sid
Mike said…
Oops... no, just added the credit. Thanks :)
Regina said…
We are no longer under law but by grace.
Thanks again for sharing a wonderful message.
Great post.

Have a blessed week.
Barbara said…
The cake is a good analogy. As Christians we strive (as I did myself before I knew better) to do better and make the grade etc.(and add to the cake) and yet there is nothing we can do of ourselves other than what Christ does through us and nothing we can do to improve ourselves through self effort. The minute we think we have suceeded we become self-righteous which in itself is a sin. great piece Mike.
Pietro said…
No, salvation is not about what you do, it's about trusting only in what He's already done. So true words. Very nice post.
Mike said…
Thanks Barbara! The minute we think we have suceeded we become self-righteous So true!!
Kansas Bob said…
"salvation is not about what you do, it's about trusting only in what He's already done"

amen.