Legalism Or Grace?

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We are made fit...by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus
Hebrews 10:10

Rigid adherence to a list of do's and don'ts appeals to our pride and self-sufficiency by fostering the myth that if we work hard enough we can earn God's favour. That's fear-based thinking, and '...God has not given us a spirit of fear...' (2 Timothy1:7 NLT). 'There is no fear in love...fear has to do with punishment...' (1 John 4:18 NIV). Legalism is fear that God isn't big enough to forgive your sins, that unless you do the right thing in the right way at the right time-and do it perfectly-you're in trouble. Jon Walker writes: 'That's a lie with the smell of hell all over it! When we fear making mistakes we become timid, and limit ourselves from living abundantly. We let...analysis permeate our decisions as we lead quiet, desperate, anti-faith lives, afraid to move with the bold confidence that grace gives us to walk in uncertainty...unafraid of rejection.' 

Speaking against works-based religion, Martin Luther said, 'Be a sinner and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger...rejoice in Christ...the victor over sin.' No, Luther wasn't excusing sin! He was restoring grace to its rightful place, affirming that nothing can separate us from God's love (Romans 8:38-39). He wasn't downgrading the law, He was upgrading grace. Grace means talking to God and listening for His voice when it would be easier to just consult the rule book. The truth is, when '...[Jesus] entered...heaven...to appear..before God on our behalf' (Hebrews 9:24 NLT), He freed us to have a relationship with Him without fear of sin separating us.

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

Comments

Mike said…
Be a sinner and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger...rejoice in Christ...the victor over sin. I've quoted this from Luther before and it screams at me No! But I think the point is that I cannot make myself sinless and any attempt is futile. Recognising my sin is important in realising that I am powerless to conquer it... except through Jesus who has paid for it. My temptation to make myself acceptable to Him is in fact completely misguided.
Melanie said…
The most amazing teaching that I have heard of late about grace and the work accomplished on the cross is a teaching by Andrew Wommack. Amazing and life changing.
Abbey said…
In reading this, I was asking myself if I was leading my spiritual life in fear. The answer is NO! I am free and I am a sinner who asks for His mercy and forgiveness every day. I do try to not repeat certain thoughts or actions, but it is definitely not out of fear, but out of an abundance of Love For Him!
Wanda said…
I'm choosing grace!
Pietro said…
A very significant reflection.
Four men brought their paralysed friend to Jesus to be healed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralysed man "Man, your sins are forgiven you." Some of those present began to reason "Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" ... Jesus responded "... But that you might know the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins" - He said to the man who was paralysed "I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house" Immediately he rose up before them ... and departed to his house. (Luke 5:17-26)
Barbara said…
So right, not about works which fuels pride.
Steve said…
Thank you for this word.