“Legalism” or “License” – the Challenge of a Life of Obedience to God’s Law as Christians

As Christians living under “grace” and the “New Covenant” we often struggle with how to respond to God’s law. Afraid of “legalism” we often see those who claim to be “followers of Christ” go the opposite extreme… “license” (almost anything goes under the rubric of “freedom” – very little difference can be observed in the lifestyle between the broader culture and “Christ’s followers”).

Today, as a part of my time of “coffee with the Lord” I read a wonderful insightful comment on this issue written by Dallas Willard in THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY…

He observed: “If people in our Christian fellowships today were to announce that they had decided to keep God’s law, we would probably be skeptical and alarmed. We probably would take them aside for counseling and possibly alert other responsible people in the group to keep an eye on them. We would be sure nothing good would come of it. We know that one is not SAVED by keeping the law and can think of no other reason why one should try to do it.

“This leaves us caught in a strange inversion of the work of the Judaizing teachers who dogged the footsteps of Apostle Paul in New Testament days… As they wanted to add obedience to ritual law to faith in Christ, we want to subtract moral law from faith in Christ. HOW TO COMBINE FAITH WITH OBEDIENCE IS SURELY THE ESSENTIAL TASK OF THE CHURCH AS IT ENTERS THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY.”

You know what? Looking around at contemporary Christian culture, I think Dallas Willard got absolutely right! May we hear clearly once again the words of Christ our Lord and Savior, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished! Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: