Thursday, March 31, 2011

Legalism and Loving Jesus

God places different convictions on each of His children. Who are we to assume that just because God has placed convictions on us in a particular area that He has placed the same convictions on others? We walk a fine line when we make blanket statements that stand in condemnation of others who don't live up to the convictions that God has placed on us alone. We walk a fine line when God hasn't specifically set forth commands in His Word on a particular subject, yet we assume that all Christians should feel and act the same as we do about the subject. When we stand in condemnation of others because they do things differently, we are setting ourselves up for a hard fall.

It is not up to us to decide what convictions another should live by. It is not up to us to decide at what point another Christian should have "arrived" in their personal relationship with Christ. God works differently in each of us. He works slowly in some, quickly in others. It is not for us to judge another's heart or motives. That is left to God alone.

When we throw out a list of standards that are not commanded in the Bible, then condemn others for not holding up to those standards, we are living in legalism. When we want others to be bound to a set of rules that we've created, we are being legalistic. There's no legalism in loving Jesus and loving others.

From Galatians 3:
You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it's obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the Cross was certainly set before you clearly enough. 2 Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God's Message to you? 3 Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren't smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? 4 Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up! 5 Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? 6 Don't these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God. 7 Is it not obvious to you that persons who put their trust in Christ (not persons who put their trust in the law!) are like Abraham: children of faith? 8 It was all laid out beforehand in Scripture that God would set things right with non-Jews by faith. Scripture anticipated this in the promise to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed in you." 9 So those now who live by faith are blessed along with Abraham, who lived by faith - this is no new doctrine! 10 And that means that anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure. Scripture backs this up: "Utterly cursed is every person who fails to carry out every detail written in the Book of the law." 11 The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. Habakkuk had it right: "The person who believes God, is set right by God - and that's the real life." 12 Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping, a fact observed in Scripture: "The one who does these things [rule-keeping]continues to live by them." 13 Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"? That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the Cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. (The Message)

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. Galatians 5:1 (The Message)

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