The Wrong Reaction to Legalism

Justin Johnson

The word grace is thrown around like confetti these days.

This is a common knee jerk reaction to legalism. If there is a label for Christians that remains as unpopular as kale at a Baptist potluck, it is the term “legalist”.

No one wants to be the dreaded L-word, so grace, grace, grace is the word.

Beware. The wrong reaction to legalism is to protect your flesh from the holiness and righteousness of the law. Grace is not an enemy of God’s law.

When grace is used as a weapon against the law, it can easily become a weapon against anything holy, just, and good.

Want to resist old-fashioned church traditions? Grace.
Want to justify your selfish choices? Grace.
Want to stop giving so much? Grace.
Want to be less strict on doctrinal truth? Grace.
Want to skip every verse that mentions good work? Grace.
Want to be off the hook of personal responsibility? Grace.
Want to deny the constrains of the Bible text? Grace.
Want to stop being told what to do, how to dress? Grace.

You are not under law; you are under grace (Rom 6:14). This does not mean anything smelling of law is foul and evil. The law is holy, just, and good (Rom 7:12).

The problem with the law was that its holy guns were pointed at you because of sin in you. This was bad for you. Your days were numbered.

You were the target of the law because of your sin. The law was not evil, you were. Your problem should not be with the holy law, it should be with your flesh and sin. Grace saves you from that.

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” – Romans 6:6

Grace is not a shield for everything ungodly, selfish, and vain. Neither does grace ban the guns of the law. Grace allows the guns to fire for righteousness sake, but then Christ walks into the path of the bullet for you.

“But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared” – Titus 3:4

This is grace. This is the love of Christ. This is his work on your behalf.

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. ” – 2 Cor 5:14-15

Grace puts you in Christ, who died for your sins, so sin has no power over you. Grace makes you dead in Christ: the law cannot kill you now.

The law does not come after dead men. Dead men are also free from sin.

“For he that is dead is freed from sin.” – Romans 6:7

Grace is how you can be saved from sin by the cross of Christ, not how you can continue in sin. Grace is not the enemy of the law; it does what the law could not do: condemn sin and give life at the same time.

“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” – Romans 8:3

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Published: March 5, 2022
Last Modified: March 5, 2022
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