In Galatians Paul writes about how complete the work of Christ’s death on the cross was for our salvation. God’s work was complete. Nothing more was needed to be added to His work. God’s work was perfect. In an instant – all of our sins – past, present, and future – were wiped clean – forgotten about – when Jesus took those sins to the cross to die.
For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law – you have been cut off from Christ ! You have fallen away from God’s grace. (Galatians 5:4)
For you have been called to live in freedom – my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead – use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14)
I could stop right there and talk about that, but there’s this next verse that wraps all of this up in a nice blunt manner. Paul doesn’t hold back in his letter. Paul warns:
But if you are always biting and devouring one another – watch out ! Beware of destroying one another. (Galatians 5:15)
What a perfect verse for these turbulent times that we’re living in today. We are indeed biting and devouring one another. We are destroying one another. We are doing the work of the devil. Love is lacking in this world.
Beware of destroying one another. Beware of the ways of the world. Beware of legalism. Paul fights legalism all throughout his letter to the Galatians as well as many of his other letters in the New Testament. Legalism is probably the sin that we commit the most on our day-to-day journey. We commit this sin more than we ever did before we were saved. YES – legalism is a sin.
“But Chris I’m confused. What do you mean by legalism ? Aren’t we supposed to be legal – and obey God’s laws – God’s Commandments ? Isn’t that legalism ? How can that be sinful ? Tell me more !”
Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)
See when we’re being legalistic we’re being prideful. We’re full of pride:
“Hey look at me. After just 2 years of being saved by God I’ve quit drinking, I’ve quit smoking, I’ve quit eating junk food, I exercise, I see a Doctor every 3 months, I get regular labwork done, I don’t get angry anymore, and I love everyone – even the people that hate me ! Oh yeah and I also listen to Christian music all day, I read the Bible every day, I write sermons on Saturdays, and I go to church every Sunday ! You should do the same. God loves me for doing all of these things ! He’ll love you too !”
Sounds terrible – doesn’t it ? I mean those are all good things, but nobody wants to hear all that stuff. I would never say any of that stuff – aside from using it as an example in this message to make my point. My fellow believers and followers of Christ – the world out there doesn’t care what we’re doing – or what we’ve stopped doing – or what we’re against – or what we’re opposed to – or what we believe in – when they don’t even know us. None of that stuff saves the world out there. None of that stuff saved me. Christ saved me. All of that other stuff came to be as a result of Christ saving me.
The world out there needs to know that God loves them more than they can only imagine. The world out there needs proof of that love. It is not enough to tell someone that God loves them, and then walk away and tell them to have a nice day. They need to see and feel and experience that love from us. That’s what disciples do. We are all called to be disciples.
So Paul was strongly against legalism. The legalist picks and chooses the rules – the laws – the Commandments – that he or she feels comfortable with obeying. You know – the easy ones. It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet: “I’ll take some of that, and a bunch of that, and a whole lotta that Good News – but none of that hard-to-digest stuff over there. I don’t agree with that law over there – or that one – or that one.” The legalist – in all of us – conveniently neglects – or even ignores certain laws at times – such as loving the Lord with all your heart, or loving your neighbor as yourself.
We need to be aware of two types of sins – the sins where we did something that we shouldn’t have done – and – perhaps more common – the sins where we did not do something that we should have done.
Each of us has an idea of what sin is, and it evolves over time. What I thought sin was when I was saved – is not the same as what I think sin is now – nearly 14 years later. Our idea of what sin is should align with Scripture. Sometimes we make up new sins that aren’t even in the Bible. And we try to avoid those sins. And when we do avoid those sins we become proud, and we think that God is happy with us: “Look at me God. I’m not doing that anymore !”
There’s that pride right there. Pride is a sin. You sinned by trying not to sin. See you can follow all the “rules” – all the “laws” – and yet completely miss out on Christ. He didn’t even know you.
We want God to know us. He already loves us – no matter what. We must love God. We must love our neighbor as our self.
All rights reserved (c) 2020 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries