In our men's bible study that meets on Tuesday mornings we've been going through the book of Galatians. This great book places Legalism in the cross-hairs of biblical truth. Through our study and discussions I'm reminded of the absolute danger of this counterfeit hope.
Recently I heard a sermon by CJ Mahaney dealing with Legalism and it's assault on Justification. I cannot recommend this sermon highly enough. If you have an hour I exhort you to take the time to listen. You can get it here.
In his sermon, CJ states, "Simply put legalism is substituting your works for His (Christ’s) finished work.” He also defines legalism as the "height of arrogance" and is an effort at "self-atonement".
CJ also poses some questions that really help expose the heart of legalism.
1) Am I more aware of and affected by my past sins than I am the finished work of Christ?
2) Do I live thinking and believing and feeling God is disappointed with me rather than delighting over me?
3) Do I have an undue concern about what others think?
4) Do I lack joy?
5) Do I consistently experience condemnation?
6) Am I more aware of areas I need to grow than I am of the cross of Christ?
These questions leave many of us standing guilty of legalism, but we need to know how to rightly process the indictment.
The remedy to legalism is the cross. Robert Murray McCheyne says, “Take 10 looks at Christ for every one look at yourself.”
Jerry Bridges seeks to explain how God sees us in our sin, and how understanding justification rightly frees us up to grow deeper in Christ.
When we pray to God for blessing, He does not examine our performance to see if we are worthy. Rather, He looks to see if we are trusting in the merit of His Son as our only hope for securing His blessing. Disciplines of Grace, 19
We need to hear the gospel every day of our Christian lives….It is only the joy of hearing the gospel and being reminded that our sins are forgiven in Christ that will keep the demands of discipleship from becoming drudgery. Disciplines of Grace, 21.
Let us stand in the hope of Christ and not in our own hopelessness. He is our hope, strength, and absolute salvation.