Masquerades #2: Legalism

10-commandments

Tim Lane and Paul Tripp, in their book How People Change, have a chapter in the beginning called The Gospel Gap in which they identify Christian externalism as a false replacement for gospel-shaped, Christ-confident, and change-committed Christianity.  There are 7 things that surface which deceptively replace authentic Christianity that the next few blog posts will share as I quote from them:

2. Legalism

Sally is a walking list of dos and don’ts. She has a set of rules for everything. They are her way of evaluating herself and everyone around her. Her children live under the crushing weight of her legalism. To them, God is a harsh judge who places unreasonable standards on them and then condemns them when they can’t keep them. There is no joy in Sally’s home because there is no grace to be celebrated. Sally thinks that performing her list gives her standing with God. She has no appreciation for the grace given her in Christ Jesus.

Legalism completely misses the fact that no one can satisfy God’s requirements. While Sally rigidly keeps her rules, her pride, impatience, and judgmental spirit go untouched. Legalism ignores the depth of our inability to earn God’s favor. It forgets the need for our hearts to be transformed by God’s grace. Legalism is not just a reduction of the gospel, it is another gospel altogether (see Galatians), where salvation is earned by keeping the rules we have established.

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