How many of you have witnessed people performing penance? In Italy, the Scala Sancta, or “Sacred Stairs,” was said to be the very stairs Jesus climbed to stand trial before Pontius Pilate. Pilgrims climb on their aching knees, pausing to pray on each of the 28 marble steps. It was taught that doing so would grant the penitent “plenary indulgence,” or complete absolution from all temporal punishments for sin. This is an example of legalism.
A works-oriented attitude
We exist in a world where “there is no free lunch.” We have been used to paying for everything. Most of us feel that we need to earn everything we have. We ought to work hard to achieve something. While this is an admirable trait, when it comes to salvation and the love of God, this makes us miss the mark.
A work-oriented attitude toward the love of God deceives us into thinking we need to perform good works to earn God’s love and our salvation. When the truth is we can do nothing to earn God’s love and our salvation. It is a gift from God. It is God’s grace upon our lives. Legalism promotes a works-oriented attitude and goes against the doctrine of grace.
Instead of approaching God’s throne empty-handed, legalists will come to Him with their religious success stories expecting a “paycheck” for everything they have done for HiAs as a pillar of po, the churchwer needs to protect itself from this mindset. Pride is the sin that fuels this perspective. Legalism says, “I am holy because I do good works,” while the doctrine of grace says, “I am a sinner, but because of what Jesus did for me,can to do good works.”
A false burden on the believers
Paul wrote to the local churches of Galatia because of the problem, which is the false doctrine of legalism. The Judiazers, a heretical group, spread a false doctrine that taught that a Christian is not only saved by their works plus faith but also claimed that one achieved personal holiness and spiritual growth by doing good works (Davis, 2010). Legalism created a false burden on the believers from the Galatian church, which caused them to turn their focus from Christ to their works.
Paul was a legalist himself before his turning point with the Lord. He knew the dangers of legalism on a believer. A legalist deals with sin with little or no love and compassion. As Christians, we tend to bring this legalistic attitude into our workplaces. We interact with our non-believer officemates with so little compassion and mercy that we become self-righteous. If you look at how Jesus responded to sinners, he displayed his understanding, compassion, and forgiveness.
We must understand that the Law of Faith is the belief that only God is righteous and merciful (which means we are not righteous on our own) and that only He can provide the way of salvation for humanity. Believers can bring this self-righteous pride into their workplaces that turn off their officemates. The truth is, we have nothing to be proud of.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
The spirit of legalism
Currently, many legalists still condemn people to hell who will not accept the requirements of the law. In the final analysis, they make salvation possible through one’s efforts. As church members, we tend to forget that we were sinners and deserve an eternity in hell, if not for the salvation Jesus purchased.
There is a need to guard our congregations from the spirit of legalism. Protect the church against the Insiders that the enemy sends to our spiritual family. The church must persevere in training Insiders to send out to the world’s four corners.
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