The Problem of Legalism‏

“By His doing you are in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Corinthians 1:30 NAS

A food company released the perfect cake mix.  It required no
additives.  Just mix some water with the powder, pop it into the oven
and prepare yourself for a treat. One problem surfaced; nobody bought
it.  Puzzled, the manufacturer conducted surveys, identified the
problem and reissued the cake with a slight alteration – add one egg.
Sales skyrocketed.  Why are we like that?  What makes us want to add
to what’s already complete?

Paul asked the same question.  Legalists angered him by adding their
work to Christ’s finished work.  Not much, just one small rule: “you
must be circumcised to be saved.”  How does Paul respond?  Like a
verbal blowtorch!  “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers,
beware of the false circumcision;” Philippians 3:2.  Evil dogs?  Ouch!

We dismiss legalists as harmless; after all, they promote morality.
They don’t dismiss Christ, they trust in Him a lot.  But . . . they
don’t trust in Him alone!  They look at the cross and say “Great work,
Jesus.  Sorry you couldn’t finish it, but I’ll take up the slack.”  So
Paul writes, “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be
known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and
worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all
over again?” (Galatians 4:9).  Legalism is miserable because legalism is
endless.  It leaves you with the anxiety that having done everything
you know, you might not have done enough.  Can our efforts make us
more worthy of salvation?  If so, we get a little of the credit, and
deep down that’s what our proud heart wants.  No, salvation is not
about what you do, it’s about what Christ has already done!

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