At my core, I am a rule follower and a recovering know-it-all.
I fight her daily… the old Christina. The one who thinks she’s in control of everything, and that if everyone did things the “right” way everything would run smoothly.
I will be the first to tell you that being anything like my sinful self is never where I want to be and wouldn’t be beneficial for anyone.
But I have noticed a trend. It is the idea that anything that is submissive to Christ is legalism. It is thinking that if God asked me to work on studying God’s word in a deeper fashion that this is in some way an expectation that I expect everyone else to do it, too.
The trend leads people to believe that if God calls me to a need for service that I am judging others for not doing it too.
I will continue to fight to make sure that I am not doing things for rule’s sake. Law is not my Lord, but I must intervene for those thinking that any form of following Christ is legalism.
As we follow Jesus, we will discover that there are both commands and convictions. The danger is in the either/or people. For them, it’s either all commandments or all convictions.
Old Christina would tell you that it was all black and white and that all things were commands. This helps the Christinas of this world feel secure in their legalism. It helps to have a clear measuring stick to see how much better I am than those next to me.
However, there is also a danger in thinking everything is all convictions and swinging over to moral relativism.
James hits the nail on the head when he says we are to be doers and not hearers only.
But obedience is not legalism.
Let me say it again… OBEDIENCE IS NOT LEGALISM.
Jesus filled ALL of the law without one drop of legalism.
Now sometimes obedience is following the law, but not because it’s the law or the right thing to do but because the Spirit is prompting.
Obedience at first glance has some similarities to following the law, but as we look closer we see distinctions.
Obedience is Spirit driven while legalism is self-driven. Obedience frees where legalism binds up. Obedience is following Jesus to be where He is while legalism is doing what Jesus did to get what Jesus got.
Let this picture help you understand. Psalm 119:32 says, “I will run in the ways of your commands.” Legalistic people don’t run because they are too tied up.
So RUN! You don’t have to obey the rules. You GET to follow Jesus.