Stone Pillared Legalists
Bill Snell, Executive Pastor
Legalism concentrates on morality and a version of obedience because legalistic thinking has determined that while Christ did His part, man must certainly do his part. In other words, a legalist’ response to Jesus’ sacrifice must be evidenced by behavior suitable for a Christian.
While we would all agree that our identity in Christ as a New Creation would suggest monumental changes of many kinds within the believer, it is wrong to conclude that God demands certain conduct to acquire or maintain our spiritual liberation. To suggest such is to reject grace and return to the law.
Good is not the status God is looking for in the procuring of the New Covenant. Go ahead and give it a try if you insist – run after every form of decency, right behavior, modesty and honesty until you have exhausted yourself with “Christian efforts” at godly living.
What will you have accomplished when you have nothing else to give? Answer: failure, frustration, anxiety, insecurity, and hopelessness. Okay, now give it another try until you have nothing else to give. No matter how moral you think you have now become, a voice inside you will inevitably cry out, “you can do better…you must do better”.
Here is a suggestion for the legalists, why don’t you do like St. Simon did in the fifth century for which many in the Catholic Church have admired and elevated to the degree of Sainthood. Climb a 50-foot stone pillar, and stand upon a space three feet square. Oh, wait a minute, that wouldn’t be enough to soundly defeat the flesh, instead of eating three meals per day reduce it to a daily ration of three figs. Still not enough to satisfy that performance voice inside? Stay up there on that stone pillar, keep women away, reduce your fig consumption to two, stand in a prayerful position symbolizing the cross, and do so for 37 years until you are dead. Surely God would be impressed by such devotion and battering of the flesh.
What extremes legalists will go to in order to “do their part”? What will be their demands upon you? Please brother and sister in Christ – Jesus’ performance (obedience) perfectly satisfied the Father’s demand for humanity. The law was fulfilled in every aspect by Jesus. Because of that, every believer is now accepted by the Father, made righteous and holy by the Son, and positioned blameless before Him in love. Life and freedom are to be received as gifts from God.
So, why not live life in joy, peace, and security? But, If you still feel compelled to perform, you can try your best not to show your utter amazement at the numbers of “stone pillared legalists” around you who continue to strive to earn and keep what God has already freely given in Christ.