Legalism is just the first sin all over again

Last Updated on September 30, 2010 by Dave Farquhar

I don’t have much time, so I just want to say one thing in response to the legalistic second message I heard at Promise Keepers last night.
The Fruits of the Spirit and God’s law are diagnostic tools. They are means to an end. Neither one is an end unto itself. Neither is achievable all by yourself. A guilt trip accomplishes nothing; trying to do them on your own accomplishes nothing but showing you how futile the task is.

I was sitting next to Pastor as we got this message, and he fumed through the whole thing. And at one point, one of us said, “We love this stuff, because it tells us exactly what we should do.” And the other of us said, “This is the first sin all over again. This is trying to be God.”

So listen. If you don’t like the direction your life is headed, if you look at your life and you don’t see what Scripture says your life is supposed to be, don’t make yourself a to-do list. Make this your to-do list: Tell God what you see. Tell Him you don’t like it. Trust me, He doesn’t either. Ask God to forgive you, ask Him to invade your life–yes, again–and humble yourself and ask Him to show you the way you should go. Let Him set your path straight.

The good deeds we do on our own are nothing but filthy rags. The only things we can do that are worthwhile are what God Himself enables us to do. Face it: You and I both need a designated hitter. But God’s willing to be that. Let Him.

Trust me. The fruits will come. Obedience will come. And they’ll be a whole lot better than anything you can do on your own.

The pressure’s off.

I gotta get going.

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8 thoughts on “Legalism is just the first sin all over again

  • August 24, 2002 at 9:41 am

    Good point. I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis again (good Anglican that I am 😉 and he makes an extremely good case that Pride is the worst of the “Seven Deadly Sins.”

    If one were to listen to the talk that was coming out of alot of Christian churches, evangelists, etc…you’d think Lust was our biggest problem – but it’s not.

  • August 24, 2002 at 8:24 pm

    Oh yeah, pride’s a far, far bigger problem than lust. Lust can destroy your marriage and your family, but pride can do all that and then some.

    And Mere Christianity is a must-read, absolutely. C.S. Lewis knew how to study the Bible, not that it should be any great surprise. He was a Lit professor.

  • August 26, 2002 at 9:15 am

    Yup, Mere Christianity was the one I was reading all right 🙂

    I really like the way Lewis goes about explaining things, esp. “hard” concepts for members of modern, Western countries (e.g. what obedience is and what it implies). I really wish there was a group I could get together with at church that went at Bible study in this spirit. I’m all for things like Promise Keepers if that’s what a person needs – it just doesn’t do it for me (never have been much of a sports fan, and I think I already know to get my butt up off the couch and do the dishes, care for my son, etc… 😉

  • August 26, 2002 at 12:44 pm

    You could try to do what I did: There wasn’t a group like I needed at church, so I found a couple of like-minded people and we started one. Then 9 other people showed up. And at our peak, a total of 30 people showed up. Realistically, 3-4 people is a pretty good number. Ideally, I prefer 8 or fewer. The like-minded people don’t necessarily even need to go to the same church. We’ve got people from 3 or 4 other churches who come to ours sometimes (and some of them aren’t even Lutheran–we have one Catholic who’s always there, and another one who’s usually there).

    Small groups and PK aren’t good substitutes for one another. They can complement each other but they’re really going after different sets of needs. I wouldn’t be without my group, or some kind of group (I’d start another one if this one disbanded).

  • August 27, 2002 at 8:46 am

    Yeah, that’s gotta be the way to go. Our church is really big on “small groups” (esp. since it’s so large). Guess I need to figure out just how to begin contacting like-minded people. We’ve only been going to this church for about six months and we really don’t know more than a handful of people. I’ll start by emailing the head of the Fellowship Ministry and see if there’s already a group of “cradle Episcopalian, C.S. Lewis fans” 😉

    BTW, here’s the Christ Episcopal Church homepage in case anyone’s interested.

  • May 16, 2003 at 10:13 pm

    OT – news from Dave Benke
    >Date: Sun, 11 May 2003 20:10:39 EDT
    >I called Ray Hartwig this afternoon, and received the news that Schulz had
    >NOT filed prior to midnight last night, and had in fact sent an email to
    >indicating that he would not be filing any appeal for review.
    >So…………IT’S OVER! All thanks and praise to God!
    >Here’s the format for the next few days:
    >Jerry Kieschnick releases his overview, including many excerpts from the
    >I send out letters and stuff and put things on the various websites
    >Chip Froelich puts the decision itself minus the names of the panelists on
    >several websites
    >Media people do their thing, who knows what will happen
    >Life continues
    Sorry to hang an OT post–just my less than clever way around no e-mail

  • November 4, 2003 at 7:25 am

    “…..Oh yeah, pride’s a far, far bigger problem than lust. Lust can destroy your marriage and your family, but pride can do all that and then some…..”

    I agree pride is a destructive force, but don’t agree that it’s more so than lust….They are both sins neither one greater or lesser than the other. If left unchecked both have the power to ruin your life.

    “Human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and can’t really get rid of it.” – C S Lewis

  • December 9, 2003 at 10:23 pm


    Amen to your web site on legalism. I was raised in a very legalistic religion but the Lord delivered me through a revelation of his grace. You might want to check out my web site which also provides information about the book I wrote on my deliverance.

    Jim Clifford
    Author: “I Lost My Religion – When I Found Amazing Grace”

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