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.