Our pastor asked an interesting question today during the sermon.
“What’s the opposite of legalism in the bible?”
Now this wasn’t the main point he was making for the sermon because he didn’t spend much time on it. But it got me thinking quite a bit.
To me legalism is the over-reliance on a set of rules in order to determine your standing with God. i.e. if you do good things all the time and follow the rules, you’re ‘good’ with God. however the downside of legalism is that it often restricts a persons behaviour and prevents a person from doing what they really should be.
Legalism was the problem with the Pharisees who as the spiritual leaders always found fault with Jesus when He did anything that broke their rules of holiness. e.g. when Jesus healed on the Sabbath or when His disciples were picking up grain in the fields.
This however isn’t the way that God has called us to live our lives.
Being a Christian often means breaking man made rules for the sake of acting out compassion to those in need. It means doing what God wants you to do over and above what you think is the best thing to do (for your pride or comfort). It means submitting to God and His rules and not our own.
I know that praying and reading my bible are good things, but doing them will not make me more holy than I am already. (thought i might make me think that)
What then is the opposite to legalism? The answer is quite simply grace.
My holiness comes from trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice for my sins on the cross. The ultimate example of God’s grace shown to an undeserving sinner: me. My correct response is to then live a life that glorifies God through my actions and in my relationships with others and practicing grace and mercy and charity throughout.
That’s not easy… in fact it’s downright difficult to do all the time.
Good thing I’ve got God’s grace to back me up on that. And the best example of all to learn from.