Yesterday I posted about Paul’s admonition against legalism in the second chapter of Colossians. Legalism is a ready danger for every church and every Christian. It takes many forms, certainly including the following:
1) Embracing consistent low grade guilt as a way of self-atoning for past sins.
2) Believing that I must obey certain religious rules that are not commanded in the Bible.
3) Believing that Jesus gets me into the kingdom, but my ongoing righteousness is my hope for making it to heaven in the end.
4) Believing that my good deeds make up for my bad deeds.
5) Believing that God’s love for me fluctuates depending on my faithfulness.
What do I believe is the worst lie of legalism? The worst lie of legalism runs through all of these forms and infects Christians and non-believers alike. The worst lie of legalism says that Jesus righteousness and death were not enough to reconcile us to God and give us eternal life. It lies that our basis for acceptance before God is our own righteousness and our own self-atonement, rather than the righteousness of Christ and his death in our place. It lies that God’s love toward us and gracious disposition to us is dependent on our current, or past, or future righteousness rather than on the unchanging person and work of Christ. The antidote to this poisonous lie is the truth of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. All my sins are paid for in Him. Perfect righteousness covers me before God. God accepts me with the same Fatherly affection that he has for His Son. Nothing a Christian does can change this status before God. Legalism lies, but the truth of Jesus Christ and his gospel will destroy the lie of legalism and leave us amazed and grateful for what He has done for us.