Leaving Legalism Behind
“And to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:19
I grew up very Southern Baptist, and what I mean by this is that it was very legalistic...don’t do this, don’t do that, do this, do that. Now, I am not saying every Southern Baptist church is like this...that was just my personal experience. I was exposed to more of the wrath and shame for what I’ve done rather than the grace and forgiveness freely offered in the Scriptures. Obviously there should be an even balance between knowing how sinful we are and knowing how loving Christ is, but I thought I was so strong. I claimed to be weak, and this was my default every time I would fall back into sin or into despair. It was my go-to. Everything having to do with my version of Christianity revolved around my halfhearted, white knuckling attempts at being “good” which always failed. It was mere insanity to be honest. Thinking all I had to do was be this better version of myself and then, then, I could find favor with God. Then I would be worthy of His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
God shattered this destructive way of thinking when He revealed to me the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. This Gospel preached light and healing into the depths of my darkened and hurting soul. My freedom, joy, peace, and security rested on the finished work of Christ, not in my ill attempts at trying to be better. Christ makes me new. Christ makes me whole. It is because of Jesus that God looks at me and finds me beautiful—not because I have suddenly quit backsliding for a while. It didn’t matter what I had done or what sin I would commit in the future because I knew God loved and forgave me. It would be by His Spirit I could walk in obedience to His statutes and be able to please and glorify Him.
I see the divine love the Father and Son have for each other, and I know that Jesus died for us because He was walking in loving obedience to His Father. Sisters, we must let go of the facade of trying to be better version of ourselves and trust in the saving work of Jesus. When we view our strivings in light of the Gospel, it is then we can begin to please the Lord by walking according to the Spirit—not on our own accord.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and many mercies. Thank You for the Gospel, and thank You for loving me so unconditionally. Humble me, Lord, and teach me to rely on You for sanctification. Make me hate sin and love the things of the Spirit. Give me the power to flee from evil as I rely on Your Spirit. You alone are my righteousness. Amen.
Are you relying on God or yourself for redemption? Meditate on Ephesians 3:19, and rest in the truth of the Lord’s steadfast love which is better than life.