Functional Legalism

The middle section of the book of Colossians (chapters 2-3) deal with shadows versus substance.  Or put another way, the reality of a transformational relationship with Jesus Christ and the failure of man-made rule.

What Paul teaches is not that sin doesn’t matter, but that self-effort and outside rule themselves will not overcome our sinful tendencies.  As I compare this to the amazing grace that God bestows on sinners (see previous post) I am convinced that many of us (Christians) are functional legalists.  We may decry legalism but we don’t bask in grace.  By doing that we are focusing on sin rather than our Savior.  We are focusing on the problem and too often trying to solve it ourselves rather than living by faith–totally dependent on God.

“The first device that Satan has to keep souls in a sad, doubting, and questioning condition, and so making their life a hell, is by causing them to be still poring and musing upon sin, to mind their sins more than their Savior; yes, so to mind their sins as to forget, yes, to neglect their Savior, that, as the Psalmist speaks, ‘The Lord is not in all their thoughts’ (Psalm 10:4). Their eyes are so fixed upon their disease, that they cannot see the remedy, though it be near; and they do so muse upon their debts, that they have neither mind nor heart to think of their Surety. A Christian should wear Christ in his bosom as a flower of delight, for he is a whole paradise of delight. He who minds not Christ more than his sin, can never be thankful and fruitful as he should.”   From Puritan Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices (Banner of Truth, 2000).

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