Sunday, October 15, 2006

On legalism

In our supervisions at the moment, me and Bish are going through Galatians. It's great, actually great and so liberating to be spending so much time in such an important letter with such an important letter. But a couple of things have struck me about legalism...which may be linked, but we'll see.

Legalism, in the case of the Galatian Christians, the question of circumcision, speaks volumes about human arrogance. Among all the socio-political reasons that the Galatian Judaisers had to try and convince the new converts to follow the law of Moses, one the reasons had its root in arrogance. They thought that just by 'doing things' they could sanctify themselves, or even justify themselves. Isn't that self sufficiency gone made? That we're so caught up in ourselves, as were these guys, that we reckon that we don't need anything outside of ourselves to sort ourselves out. Now, thats not very eloquent, but isn't it true nonetheless? Isn't that also the root of all our legalism today? 'Yeh i'm a sinner and yeh the cross and yeh whatever, but what i really need to do is go and read my Bible for half an hour', and sure, we should read our Bibles, but thats not going to get us anywhere in itself is it? Think about's absurd to think that things that we do can have any effect on our state before a God who had to kill His own Son to solve the problem. We can't do anything apart from have faith, and that's a gift. So lets stop trying!

How small is your God?
If we think that 'doing things' is going to improve our standing with God, we're forgetting two things. 1. For goodness sake Galatians, for goodness sake us now right here, 'it is finished' the cross has done it, here we now stand, imputed with perfect righteousness...wearing a wrist band isn't going to improve on that is it? I mean, thats common sense isn't it? God is huge, and magnificent and more holy than we can conceive of. I want, i need, a big God to worship, and man, i've got one. And we all do. The more we're filled with a vision of the glory of God, the more we'll be changed. So, lets not try and have a God who is impressed or moved by reading things or doing things or saying things. Lets have the Father, who is impressed with the Son, the Son who has done all that needs doing to bring us back to the Father. Lets have that awesome God, and lets rely on Him totally for all we need.

'this is the saddest warfare that any poor creature can be engaged in. A soul under conviction of law is pressed to fight on against sin but has no fight for the combat. They can fight, but they can not conquer, they are like men on opponents swords, on purpose to be slain...the law drives them on, sin drives them back'
John Owen.

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