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April 3, 2012 / beidson

Let Go of Your Legalism

To be a Christian is to shift your hope, from the standard by which you previously measured yourself, to a new standard, God’s standard.  God’s standard is the gospel—Jesus commands people everywhere to repent of their standards and trust in him.  Jesus is perfect.  He is everything we could never be.  He did what we could never do—perfectly love God and people.  The gospel is the good news that God’s standard for us is no longer “Do this and don’t do that” but “Trust in Jesus who was perfect in your place.”

The legalist in us is tempted to doubt God’s grace, to want to attain some level of “perfection” in our lives so that we don’t have to rely entirely on Jesus’ work.  We don’t want to let go of the old law that used to rule over us, “Do this and don’t do that.”  It was easier that way—at least then we could measure our performance.  But the fact is, legalism kills—it doesn’t lead us to the righteousness that God requires of us and it blinds us from seeing Jesus as the righteousness that God gives to us.

Let go of your legalism.  Your obedience is good and necessary, but it is secondary.  Yes, you should strive to change.  Yes, you should obey the commandments.  But your law-keeping isn’t the standard—it won’t make or break you.  This is the freedom we have in Christ—the freedom to obey God from a place of joyful obligation, not fearful duty.  This will change the way you see yourself and the way you treat others.

Be like Paul, who let go of his legalism so that he could lay hold of God’s gift of righteousness in Jesus (Philippians 3).

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