Lord’s Day 10/25 Gospel and Legalism

Christians are good at replacing the gospel with religious duties. There is a performance aspect to the Christian life that says-I got saved and now I’m going to do all this stuff to give back to God. It is a tendency to become either practical or actual legalists.

Consider this definition of legalism in light of your own life and religious duties. Truly consider your motivations.

Legalism is seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and acceptance by God through obedience to God.

In other words, a legalist is anyone who behaves as if they can earn God’s approval and forgiveness through personal performance. [Mahaney, C.J.. The Cross Centered Life. Sisters: Multnomah, 2002. 25.]

This is an uncomfortable thought that many Christians would probably deny. However, when one realizes that the only religious duty performed is what no Christian could do-Jesus death and resurrection-he is quickly humbled. Think about it. Be honest.

The legalist allows his performance of spiritual duties to become his preoccupation and a source of self-righteous pride. In doing so, he unwittingly walks away from the main thing-the gospel. [Ibid.34-35]

The effects of piety on the Christian life can become a list of joyless duties of obedience. Legalism. Rest in Christ can become a sleepless night when the Christian loses focus. It is a must to return to Christ for strength and trust in the very gospel that sustains.

“Lord, I ask for Your grace and strength as I seek to serve You today,” I pray. “I thank you that all Your blessings flow to me from Your Son’s work on my behalf. I am justified by Your grace alone. None of my efforts to obey You and grow in sanctification add to Your finished work at the cross.”

What a joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence. Not because I have done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I am clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.[Ibid. 35]

Think of the implications of the gospel as you prepare your heart and mind to worship; as well as the implications for the whole Christian life.

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