Summary: When a person applies law to their own life, it is called “personal conviction”; when they apply their own “personal conviction” to OTHERS, it is called “legalism.”
More Implications of Grace
January 22, 2012 Morning Service
Immanuel Baptist Church, Wagoner, OK
Message Point: We must not abuse our freedom in Christ, but instead, strive to walk by the spirit.
Focus Passage: Galatians 5:13-26
Supplemental Passage: It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out--in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don't you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence? It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom. But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard--things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good--crucified. Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.
(Galatians 5:13-26 The Message)
Introduction: As far as I can tell, not much was heard from my last sermon but “it’s ok for you to drink”. To those who are shackled by legalism, an abominable thing for a preacher to say. To those who exercise liberty without responsibility, permission to act any way you want. Let’s be very clear about this: my sermon was NOT about drinking. It was about grace. It was about liberty with responsibility. It was following the law out of love for Christ; not out of fear of punishment. The law serves to show us our sin ONLY. It does not save us. It does not perfect us. It does not give us life. The law was completely fulfilled in Christ. The law is a good guide, but it only shows us our sin. Grace is talked about, but not exercised, because people do not understand it, nor have they accepted it. The law is comfortable; grace is scary. But it should be the other way around. When a person applies law to their own life, it is called “personal conviction”; when they apply their own “personal conviction” to OTHERS, it is called “legalism.” Legalism takes all the joy out of being a Christian and reverts salvation back to being in your own hands, rather than in the hands of Jesus. Legalism offends the cross; grace offends legalists.
I. Called to Freedom
a. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:14 NASB)