Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cheating On Jesus!

Extracts from an article by Santo Calarco:

"Legalism does not necessarily mean “you need to keep the law to be saved!” That is not what the New Testament calls legalism.

In Gal 3:1-5 Paul defines legalism as human attempts to combine what Jesus did on the Cross for us with obedience to the law in order to gain or maintain relationship with God: “Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law or by believing … after beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort” Gal 3:2-3. New Testament legalism is not salvation by law, but Jesus plus obedience to the law in order to maintain relationship with God.

Until Christmas Eve 2008 I believed this very error. I reasoned that God wanted me to keep his law as a believer as a love response to what he did for me on the Cross. Although this was correct and I still maintain this position, it became polluted. I began to “fine tune” my approach to law and grace and taught that although the law played no part in my justification it did have a part in my sanctification. Then I realised that this was the very heresy that Paul confronted in both Galatians and Romans. In Galatians 3 Paul was talking to saved believers who introduced law into their relationship with God as a basis for on-going fellowship. Re-read Gal 3:1-5 slowly and carefully and you will see this.

In essence Paul says that victory over sin comes as we remember who we belong to. Is sin your master or Jesus? Is the law your spouse or Jesus? See Rom 6:1, 2, 14, 16, 18-19 cf. Rom 7:1-5. Paul discusses victory over sin and tells us that the key is in our perception of who we belong to. Identity determines behaviour!

The law does not have a part in my sanctification. Any attempt at trying to combine Jesus and the law was bigamy and adultery – cheating on Jesus! I was not going to produce holiness through any combination of Jesus plus the law. In fact trying to combine faith in Jesus plus obedience to the law to produce victory over sin would result in further sin!

If we try and keep the law to produce holiness whilst at the same time remain married to Jesus we will fail. We are in fact cheating on Jesus. Paul tried this himself. He speaks about his own Christian experience with Jesus and says that as he tried to stay married to Jesus and to the law in order to experience victory over sin he only failed more and more.

In our pursuit of holiness [as a fruit in our lives] we need to remember that we are only married to Jesus and that we have died to our former spouse (7:4). And the good news of sanctification is this: regardless of my attempt to keep the law of God, my relationship to God remains totally in tact because I am married to his Son; regardless of the result I am never condemned in his eyes! As I remember and practise this truth then holiness [as a fruit] will surface. As I remember that my partner is my Saviour and I spend more and more time with him – then his Spirit will transform me from the inside out and the RELATIONSHIP, and NOT the law, will change my behaviour – Grace is indeed amazing!