How do we “cast out” (see Galatians 4:30) the legalists and their petty notions from our lives? This is an important question for any of us suffocating under the heavy weight of self-proclaimed spiritual masters of our spiritual destinies. Consider the following ideas:
First, we must affirm the truth that our relationship with God is based exclusively upon God’s provision of grace, and remember, my definition of grace is “Guaranteed Redemption At Christ’s Expense.” John 8:32 reminds us that it is the truth that sets us free. We must affirm the truth about our lives—only by God’s provision of Jesus Christ do we have any hope. [See “It’s All About Jesus” for more information regarding God’s provision for our lives]
Second, we must affirm that righteousness is appropriate. It affirms the holiness of God and is the standard by which all followers of Christ must live. God deserves nothing less than our greatest commitment to deny ourselves, take up the cross daily, and follow after him (see Luke 9:23). This is essential, and, importantly, is a response of gratitude to God’s grace in our lives, not a means by which we access God’s provision of salvation. But the point is critical: if we are going to live maturely as Christians, we must live as those worthy of God’s honor. The Apostle Paul talks a lot more about this in Galatians 5 and 6.
Third, when we have a platform to speak into legalism, we should do so, much like Paul confronted the Apostle Peter, as recorded in Galatians 2:11-14. But note: we must have a platform. When friends or ministry leaders or family members are forcing upon us expectations that deny the sufficiency of Christ, we should call it out. If we do not have the platform for such a confrontation, then my recommendation is that we be ourselves with confidence, humility and faith, and remain lovingly silent until such a platform is built.
Fourth, we must really discern whether or not another’s spiritual expectation is actually being placed upon us. Sometimes people choose a path we might think is legalistic, and yet they have no intention of forcing it upon us. For them it might simply be a case of personal discernment. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 8:13 that we should not make our brothers and sisters in the Lord stumble. Some may deem something as important, we as not important. Let’s give each other that much in a spirit of patience and kindness.
Fifth, if we are in a church environment that refuses to yield ground to true grace, and lays upon itself the pervasive legalism against which Paul writes, we should leave. This, of course, presumes, that the platform mentioned above either does not exist, or it has existed, been utilized, and there is no willingness on the part of the leadership to change. As a growing and maturing Christian, you have better things to do than waste years in an environment that will snuff your spiritual vitality right out of you. The time is short and the needs are too great, and a whole world is desperate for a Savior. Do not waste your time with those who would deny the power of the gospel of Christ.
And lastly, we must repent of our own legalistic notions and beliefs, and bathe ourselves in God’s truth. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from our own unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
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“Write This Down” is a summary of select teaching moments offered by Pastor Matthew. The preceding summary is from the message “Divine Intervention or Man’s Invention,” part of the sermon series “Galatians: No Other Gospel,” presented on the weekend of June 10, 2012, at Bethel Church.