This is a continuation of what had written formerly along these same lines.
One of the standard things that we are told with regard to the Gospel is that living it out resembles a tight rope, or a path between two cliffs, the pit on one side being licentiousness, and the pit on the other being legalism. We have to constantly be on our guard lest we fall into one or the other of these, and thus bring dishonour to Christ’s name. But this places us in a posture of fear rather than of freedom: a spirit to which we are not called.
It would be more correct to state simply that the singular enemy to the Gospel –the thing that is antonymous to the very concept of Grace– is legalism. Legalism is the human default mode of survival that says that by keeping some standard or doing something a certain way, we can obtain those things which are only ours by being united with Christ and having the open door of fellowship with God; which is just too narrow for our merits or our legalistic, self-driven attempts to make ourselves happy.
We aren’t on a pendulum swing from licentiousness to legalism, striving for that in between point that qualifies as living for Christ: we are in a constant battle against the one inward principle that was birthed in Eden that says we can live, and find happiness and security apart from God. That which says Christ is not enough is legalism.
Legalism, or Selfism, says that I can be a good person and gain God’s favour by by not hanging out with those people whose standards may be lower than I deem mine to be…
Selfism says that if I can just spend time with my friends, if I can just be with the people that I long to be with, I will gain true peace and contentment.
Living by grace in fellowship with God says that in all circumstances we are content, for we have all the fulness of the Godhead freely in Christ.
Selfism says that we will be bettered distancing ourselves from material things in order to get close to God, forgetting that we take our selfish natures with us wherever we go;
selfism says that by accumulating goods we will redeem our spiritual emptiness;
Grace says that we have had all of our needs supplied in Christ, and that when we had plenty we can give freely as Christ gave to us, and that we have learned in all things whereby to be content.
Selfism says that by attaining to celibacy or a really great marriage we can be closer to God;
selfism says that by hanging out with members of the opposite sex we can fill the relational void caused by not serving and fellowshipping with Christ.
Grace says that we can live and serve our Christian Sisters or brothers in the context of a God ordained marriage, and that we glorify God with our bodies by being 1 Cor 7 single or in the throws of Proverbs 5 marital ecstasy.
Selfism -legalism- says that being good enough before we approach God will destroy the difficulty of dead quiet times;
Legalism says we can make up for bad devotional times by filling up on the latest Marvel movie.
Grace says that we can come with our nothing and partake of Christ’s everything, and that we can have that humanly foreign principle called faith that says we are in Christ, and therefore the only barrier which holds us back is unbelief.
Legalism constrains us to self- Grace draws us to Christ!
Legalism leans on the arm of self for everything- Faith leans on he Beloved (Songs 8:5).
If we come to God burdened by our own mistakes– we’re legalists!
If we run to the world’s ways rather than Christ’s expecting happiness–we’re legalists!
Grace, the Gospel, is our resting place! Romans 5, and 6, are the place at the foot of the Cross that kills our self dependence in everything, and frees us to the vast universe of what we have and are in Christ, and constrain us by chains so tight they bloody our wrists.
Commandments don’t restrain us to Christ: they direct us IN Christ. The Gospel is that which constrains us to the One who bore the bloody Cross, and drank the FULL cup of God’s wrath that we might know Him. God’s wrath isn’t stopped by Christ! It isn’t Stopped– it is expended! There isn’t any left.
That constrains us to the simplicity of devotion to Christ. With Him, we’ve no need to mess around with selfism. We can approach the Mercy Seat, and find it to be just that. Mercy, held out to us in the Person of Christ.
If we hold back for bettering ourselves or for wallowing in foolishness, we are legalists. Let’s avoid that category.