Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Legalism, Law, and Grace

16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.  17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. –John 1:16, 17 (KJV)

Let me share more thoughts today on the grace of God in Jesus Christ.  If we are not careful, legalism can slip into our lives compromising our freedom in Jesus.  One problem is that many believers fail to comprehend the nature of true spiritual freedom.  We are not free in Jesus to be rebellious or to live lives of ungodliness, for this goes against our new nature.  Paul the Apostle states it this way: “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid.  How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein?  (Romans 6:1, 2).”  Since we are new creations in Jesus with new hearts and new minds, it follows that we desire to serve God, not go against His will.  Freedom in Christ means release from the burden of trying to save ourselves, for this is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.  He has secured our salvation through His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection from the dead.  Ours is to walk forward in faith, rejoicing in the Lord, sharing the gospel, and reaching out in love to those around us.

Legalism is a frame of mind that keeps us always trying to live within a set of rules and regulations much like the law of the Old Testament.  You must wear certain kinds of clothing, wear your hair a certain way, associate with certain kinds of people, eat certain kinds of food, and listen to particular kinds of music.  We become so involved in trying to keep these regulations that our freedom is stifled.  No longer are we walking in the joy of the Lord.  Instead, we are always worrying about God getting upset with us because we are not practicing prescribed rituals and ideals.  

Thank God that grace came through Jesus Christ!  He has released us from the chains of the law and the legalism that so often creeps into our lives.  Matters that have little bearing upon us no longer distract us and our service to the Lord, for Jesus Christ is our guide, judge, and Savior.  Dress modestly, eat healthy, stay in the Word, reach out in love, live holy lives, and worship the Lord with glad, grateful, and joyful hearts.  We practice these not to earn salvation, but because we have salvation.

Walk forward today in the blessed freedom Jesus brings.  He is Lord, and in Him there is joy, peace, and spiritual victory.