“Legalism” or “Westwinds sermon refleciton”

I’m going to start posting some older stuff I’ve written–papers, sermon reflections, essays, articles–and for the most part, they’ll be filed in the spiritual reflections category. I’ll occasionally cross-list stuff in both my regular blog and the spiritual reflections category if the topic fits. An example would be Sunday’s sermon reflection that served as the day’s blog.

Sermon series title:
Reaching out of the Shadows

Sunday, October 26, 2003
Part six of 12
Matt. 15

We’ve all heard of legalistic Christianity. That’s being like those Pharisees, right? Well, it might touch closer to home than most of us would care to admit. Sure, the Pharisees did practice legalism as you and I traditionally think of it. They made up rules and then forced themselves and others to follow them — all for the sake of “the law.”

But what about our own rule books. They might not contain strange eating and clothing regulations, but they probably house church attendance and prayer time check lists. Maybe a bible-reading quota or fasting calendar.

What are the things that we hang our hat of salvation on? Are they biblical? Do they draw us into deeper relationship with Christ, or do they act as a net we can fall back on when we doubt our faith?

Nothing against spiritual disciplines, but when rules begin to replace relationship, that’s when things have gone sour and legalism has grabbed hold. Where in our lives have we become more concerned about rule-keeping than we are about entering into true relationship with Jesus Christ?

When Jesus called his disciples, he didn’t give them a “to do” list. He just told them to follow him. He knew that as they spent time in fellowship with him, he would begin to rub off on them and they would change. He certainly gave them things to do, things he knew would raise the character bar in their lives. But never did he present a magic recipe for holiness.

Jesus asked his disciples to enter into a relationship with him and get a taste of kingdom life. “I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly,” he said (John 10:10). Experience the liberty of living an unveiled life Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 3. “We are all…being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,” it says. Truly pursue relationship with Christ and leave legalism for the Pharisees.

Joel Maust

Joel Maust is a blogger, marketer and photographer living in the beautiful Flathead Valley of northwest Montana.

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