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Legalism vs the Spirit-Life

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  • Legalism vs the Spirit-Life

    [From Lambert Dolphin's article:]

    In our church class in Hebrews several class members gave examples from daily life to illustrate how easily we can lapse into trying to live the Christian life by performance and self-effort. I've expanded these examples and came up with the following indicators that one is trying to live under the Law of Moses. If you have had experience with the flesh and its thousand subtle deceptions, send me your additions to this list.

    An Old Covenant Check List:
    1. I am a good person and I try my best to obey the law.
    2. I can handle this situation without God's help.
    3. There I am some things I've done that I won't tell anyone about, not my spouse, not my best friend, and certainly not God.
    4. I'll just work this out on my own and not bother God with this problem.
    5. As soon as I get my life straightened out, I plan to start going to church.
    6. I don't really need God right now. Perhaps later on I can fit Him in.
    7. I just try to serve God in my own humble way.
    8. If I gave God my life He would probably make me like all the rest of those awful people at my church
    9. I picked preaching as my career so I could get a big reward in heaven.
    10. My parents want me to become a Catholic priest since I don't fit in anywhere else in society. God is secondary in my plans.
    11. I went to seminary so I could write books on religion
    12. I give money to my church and sing in the choir. What more does God want?
    13. This New Year's Day I made a number of resolutions that I still intend to keep.
    14. I told God if he would give me a million dollars I would give him back 20%.
    15. America is a land of opportunity. I have a right to become anyone I wish to become by hard work and determination.
    16. I've signed up for a self-improvement program and it really works.
    17. God can't use me. I have never been to Bible school or seminary.
    18. God can have 10% of my income. The rest is mine.
    19. Look out for #1. No one else will.
    20. "God helps those who help themselves." (Benjamin Franklin)
    21. I just follow the Golden Rule
    22. My God is a loving God. He would never send anyone to hell. I am counting on my good deeds getting me into heaven.
    23. There are some things in life I can't handle, but most of the time I know what to do on my own.
    24. I have had years of experience in my job so I know how to manage that area of my life perfectly.
    25. We have a committee to deal with that sort of thing. Go see them.
    26. If you are going to serve in our church you need to dress more conservatively.
    27. I never bother God with my small day to day problems.
    28. Who me? God isn't interested in little old me.
    29. I am doing fine in life thank you. If I find I need God I'll reconsider.
    30. I'll start going to church when I get older and have a family. I am too busy now.
    31. I was raised in the church. That's where I learned to be a good person.
    32. I can't serve the Lord because I don't have any academic credentials.
    33. I'm the best qualified to serve because I have been to XYZ Trinitarian Seminary.
    34. If I can learn to live like a pauper maybe God will be pleased with me.
    35. With my talents I should be an elder.
    36. Missionaries are God's favorite people.
    37. Successful parents are God's favorite people.
    38. This situation is too small for God to bother with. I think God wants me to handle this myself.
    39. I have done enough for God, now it's time to do things for me.
    40. I probably did enough. A little vacation from doing things for God won't hurt. For now, my relationship with Him is on hold.
    41. Know thy enemy. How can you fight sin if you don't know what it is?
    42. Boys will be boys. There's no harm in sowing wild oats when you're young.
    43. But this is how we have always done things here at Archaic Baptist Church
    44. Son, when you are as old as I am you have all the right answers. So do what I tell you.
    45. I just rely on common sense when I have decisions to make.
    46. My intuition has never failed me. I follow my hunches.
    47. I let my wife make all the day-to-day decisions in our family.
    48. I know all about quitting smoking. I've quit a dozen times.
    49. God made me the way I am, I can't help it. I was born gay.
    50. It wasn't my default. Drinking runs in our family.
    51. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."
    52. I deserve someone better. I am getting a divorce.
    53. I earned everything I have gained in life by hard work and self-effort.
    54. I believe all people are basically good. They just need the right education and training.
    55. I've preached the gospel for forty years now and I know what I'm talking about.

    "One of the really surprising things about the present bewilderment of humanity is that the Christian Church now finds herself called upon to proclaim the old and hated doctrine of sin as a gospel of cheer and encouragement. The final tendency of the modern philosophies, hailed in their day as a release from the burden of sinfulness, has been to bind man hard and fast in the chains of an iron determinism. The influence of heredity and environment, of glandular makeup and the control exercised by the unconscious, of economic necessity and the mechanics of biological development, have all been invoked to assure man that he is not responsible for his misfortune and therefore not to be held guilty. Evil has been represented as something imposed on us from without, not made by us from within. The dreadful conclusion follows inevitably that as he is not responsible for evil; he cannot alter it. Even though evolution and progress may offer some alleviation in the future there is no hope for you and me now. I well remember how an aunt of mine, brought up in an old-fashioned liberalism, protested angrily against having continuously to call herself a miserable sinner when reciting the Litany. Today, if we could really be persuaded that we are miserable sinners, that the trouble is not outside us but inside us, and that therefore, by the grace of God, we can do something to put it right, we should receive that message as the most helpful and heartening thing that can be imagined." (Dorothy Sayers)

    Come, thou long expected Jesus,
    born to set thy people free;
    from our fears and sins release us,
    let us find our rest in thee.
    Israel's strength and consolation,
    hope of all the earth thou art;
    dear desire of every nation,
    joy of every longing heart.

    Born thy people to deliver,
    born a child and yet a King,
    born to reign in us forever,
    now thy gracious kingdom bring.
    By thine own eternal spirit
    rule in all our hearts alone;
    by thine all sufficient merit,
    raise us to thy glorious throne.
    Text: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

    Note added from Elaine Stedman: Oswald Chambers was even more radical:

    "Righteousness cannot be imitated. If I abide in Jesus, His righteousness is done through me. Nowadays the tendency is to switch away from abiding in Christ; it is--'Do this,' and 'Do that.' You cannot do anything at all that does not become, in the rugged language of Isaiah, 'as filthy rags,' no matter how right it looks, if it is divorced from abiding in Christ. Haul yourself up a hundred times a day till you learn to abide. Ask yourself--Is this work, this activity, deflecting me from abiding in Christ? If so, then fling it overboard."

    full article here:
    "...earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." Jude 1:3b

    Jesus + something = nothing

    Jesus + nothing = Everything

  • #2
    Romans 13:11 This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here.


    • #3
      The whole world is divided into two (2) camps:

      1) The Auto-soterists who try and save themselves by following this or that set of rules... I do this or I don't do that.


      2) Those who righteousness comes through Christ's blood shed on the cross.

      P.S. While we're ostensibly harping on Southern Baptists, I believe that it was Charles Ryrie that once said that Baptists like big churches and fightin'. (I spent 5 years at a VERY legalistic Southern Baptist School.)


      • #4
        Great article isong. Having spent 47 years in a "works based" church, I can appreciate reading this.


        • #5
          What bondage a meritorious view of salvation must be. Especially if you even understand a fraction of His holiness.

          Thank God for the sacrifice of Jesus, The Lamb slain from the foundations of the world.
          There is One King, and He is not this guy. sigpic