By Michele Rayburn
When Christians say that they are against Legalism, sometimes I wonder if they even know what that entails.
The tentacles of Legalism reach deep down into our lives, producing false guilt, self-abasement, and an unhealthy obsession with sin, which results in saying and believing things that indicate that we feel worthless, unloved, unforgiven, and unacceptable to God.
As I said in a previous post, what Christians need to realize and need to appropriate in their lives is who they are in Christ, how to "be" in Christ, and how to "walk by the Spirit". The alternative is to "walk in the flesh".
We need to focus on Him, not focus on our sin.
You've probably heard it said that if you're told to not think of pink elephants, the next thing you know...you're thinking of pink elephants.
So when we are taught about sin, somehow we just can't stop thinking about that sin, and about continuing in that sin, and then about how we are going to resist that sin.
But it's going to be in our own strength, if we're not being told, straight from the Word of God, how to depend on God to deliver us from a particular sin, and if we're not being told how to "walk by the Spirit".
Because these teachings are so neglected, it leaves a spiritual void in people's lives. And that is the reason I believe we have so many legalistic churches, which sometimes leads to false churches, "movements" and cults.
All of them, and some "movements", have one thing in common. In a subtle, man-centered way, they are seeking to earn God's love and favor by what they think they can do for Him, not realizing that it's by His grace alone.
All of the false religions have no risen Savior. But the true Church has a risen Savior. And if we truly want to exalt Him in our lives, then we should be looking to Him, focusing on Him, walking in Him, depending on Him for everything, including the strength to overcome our weaknesses.
Try thinking about your sin and focusing on the Lord at the same time. I think you will find that you can't do that. And yet that is what I think Christians are taught to do.
But the result, I believe, is that we will become "the double-minded man, unstable in all his ways".
The Apostle Paul says in Romans 8:5-6, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace..."
In Romans 7:25, Paul says, "So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."
Paul knew the struggle against sin like all of us, and how he could not "serve in the newness of the Spirit" and "in the oldness of the letter [of the law]" at the same time. But he proclaimed that we have been delivered from the law, having died to it. (Romans 7:6)
And he also said, "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (Romans 6:14)
And so we should continue to proclaim these truths in the Church today.
Saturday, May 05, 2012
Nobody wants to pick on the beloved Spurgeon. But how much better off he would have been to say, "We are satisfied with the theology of the BIble."
Spurgeon suffered from bouts of depression.
In the reading of many of his sermons and several biographies of his life, I am convinced that the catalyst, if not the cause, of his depression was his immersion in the Puritans.
Whether connected physiologically to his brain chemistry or not, I'm convinced that his depression was brought on by the confusion he was subjected to by the Puritans.
1. His Bible taught him to gaze upon Christ...
...the Puritans taught him to look to himself in introspective examination of his wicked and deceitful heart.
2. His Bible taught him "It is finished"...
...the Puritans taught him that he must "persevere"...or else.
3. His Bible taught him that the New Covenant was unilateral, accomplished entirely by God...
...the Puritans dragged him over the blessing/cursing coals of the Old Covenant, never rightly dividing the Old from the New, a la Hebrews 8.
4. His Bible taught him that he was a Saint who sins...
...the Puritans taught him that he was a Sinner who was also sorta a Saint.
5. His Bible taught him that sin shall no longer be master over us because we are not under law, but under grace...
...the Puritans taught him that he might have been initially saved by grace, but he surely was now under law.
6. His Bible taught him that he had been given a new heart by God, one that loves Christ and hates sin...
...the Puritans taught him that his heart was deceitful and desperately wicked, confusing the regenerate with the unregenerate.
7. His Bible taught him that he could rejoice in the assurance of his salvation...
...the Puritans taught him, "Not so fast, Buster! Do you KNOW you're saved? 100% sure? C'mon, you know what a wretched creature you are! Will you stay till the end? That's the question! Are you properly aware of your sin, such that you daily grovel and weep and mourn for it? I didn't think so! You probably don't even weep and wail for the lost, do you? Huh?! Huh?! And you call yourself a preacher! You may fancy yourself a worker for God, but do you match US? Do you put in 18 hours a day? Do you visit the poor and needy and lost until you're exhausted? I didn't think so. Not so fast, Buster!"
8. His Bible taught him that if he would walk by the Spirit, he would not fulfill the lusts of the flesh...
...the Puritans taught him that if he would not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, he MAY be able to walk by the Spirit.
9. His Bible taught him, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage..."
...the Puritans taught him that if he strived hard enough, he might rid himself of his bondage, though they weren't too sure, since they had not rid themselves of theirs.
Obviously there were exceptions to the above caricature of the Puritans. They themselves were confused many times, and so it's no surprise that they would confuse others.
But such mingling of Old Covenant and New Covenant means mingling grace and works, freedom and bondage, joy and condemnation, assurance and doubt.
And it's not just Spurgeon. Such confusion is the norm when one immerses themselves in Covenant Theology.
We don't need "modern thought".
We need ancient New Covenant thought.