Monday, 1 July 2013

Legalism, Pride and Jesus


Romans 10:3-4
Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
In this passage Paul is continuing on from his previous point: The Jews had zeal for God, but it was without knowledge and as a result it was misdirected and was not actually in service to God at all.

Legalism

The result of this zeal was legalism. The Jews sought to be righteous in God's eyes by their own works. They wanted to be holy, but they missed the point that we cannot do it ourselves. As a result they worked hard to obey the law completely, aiming to establish their own righteousness. They could not hit Gd's standard of perfection, but they ignored that and tried anyway, denying that they were sinful. We see this all through Jesus' life in the conflict between him and the Pharisees.

But it wasn't just a problem then, it is a problem now. This is us. So many Christians (myself included) try to please God with their actions. We know in our heads that we are saved only by faith in Jesus, but in our lives we still live as if it is based on what we do. We obey out of duty and not out of love for God, and we look down on others when they get it wrong.

The problem also isn't just restricted to Christians. Every other religion is based on works - ours is the only one that is based on grace. People are constantly saying that they will go to heaven based on what they've done. We try to make ourse;ves right before God,a and ignore his way of salvation. We miss the point: Even one sin makes us guilty before God, and all have sinned. We all therefore deserve God's wrath (hell) for eternity. We can't do it ourselves.

Pride

What is the result? They "did not submit to the God's righteousness". They didn't only refuse to submit, but they killed Jesus who was God's righteousness and the only way to be saved out of their jealousy and pride. They were self-righteous, trusting in themselves and consequently they ignored God.

Christians also get proud from their legalism. We think ourselves higher than others, we look down on other Christians if they are struggling with sin (often ignoring our own) or if they believe different doctrines. We ignore Jesus when he says "take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." We are even proud about our 'humility".

Why is it that we don't like to submit to God? Aside from being sinful in nature and rebellious, we also don't like that it gives God all the glory. We like the praise, we want people to look at us and tell us how good we are. No, we are hopeless and cannot save ourselves. Only Jesus can save us, and all the glory belongs to God. In our pride we hate that message. But it is the most loving and gracious thing God could ever do for us: Give his son in exchange for us.

Jesus

Jesus is God's righteousness. He alone saves. He lived perfectly and died in our place.
2 Corinthians 5:21:
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Jesus is God. He was sinless and he died in our place so that everyone who puts their faith in him will be saved. The Pharisees killed him our of pride, but God had planned that so that he could bring about the salvation of not only the Jews, but the Gentiles (non-Jews) as well. Jesus is God, and yet he humbly came to earth, suffered and died in our place, while we were still sinners and trying to make our own way to God.

We cannot do it ourselves. Jesus alone saves. We have nothing to do with it, and therefore we have nothing to be proud about. God calls us and saves us, Jesus paid the price and took the wrath of God that we deserved. We have nothing to boast about and we don't need to do good works to be saved. It is 100% Jesus and 0% us.

Why then do Christians do good works? We need to obey God out of love and faith in him. If we have repented (Mark 1:15) then we need to stop living sinfully (you can't be truly sorry for something and then keep doing it). If we put our faith in Christ then we are also trusting that God's way is better than ours and we need to obey.

Ephesians 2:8-10
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.
God Bless.
Nat.

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