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The Cost of Legalism

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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June 22, 2022 12:01 am

The Cost of Legalism

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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June 22, 2022 12:01 am

The gospel and its blessings should produce joy in our lives. When Christians find themselves lacking joy, it may actually be a symptom of legalism. Today, Derek Thomas looks at the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of legalism.

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False teachers have infiltrated the churches in Galatia, the fullness of times, God sent forth his son, born all the woman moves on the Lord to redeem those who are under the law to bring them out of that bondage, but so now they're going back into that bondage again. Legalism that's the issue in the church in Galatia. That's why Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians he didn't mention the words of love for them, but in no uncertain terms, he reminded them of the gospel and the glorious benefits of being adopted into the family of God. Welcome to Renewing Your Mind. Emily Webb, this is a lesson we should heed today because it's so easy to think that there's just a little more we can do to earn God's eternal favor.

Here is Dr. Derek Thomas to explain why there's a cost to that kind of thinking. Lesson eight begins with the question, whatever happened to your joy when did your joy go to Tim with a two Galatians 4 and two verse 15.

Galatians 415. What then has become of your blessedness looking at the section that begins to chapter 4 and verse eight down through verse 20 in our last lesson you will remember we ended on the top of the Himalayas saw Everest a picture mountain, but we were at the very high point of Galatians, you are no longer a slave to some and if a son, then an heir through God. Verse seven Paul is introduced, the doctrine of adoption part of Paul's strategy here to the Galatians to our enmeshed in the form of legalism is to remind him of who they are and what they are. They are in Christ, they are adopted they are no longer slaves.

They are children of God, an heir of God, a joint heir with Jesus Christ. Now, as we transition to SAT draws the contrast between adoption and son ship and what they once were.

When they were outside of Christ and what they were were slaves formally when you did not know dogs you are enslaved to those that by nature are not gods idolatry is the heart of sin, making idols and worshiping them.

In this case they are prone to make idols of certain laws certain laws that are no longer in force.

What the Judaizers were calling them Judaizers about this some segment in the church in Galatia calling upon these believers to obey certain ceremonial laws, food laws, circumcision, and in this case calendar lawsuit. Notice in verse 10, you observed days and months and seasons and years. Perhaps they were imposing upon the Galatian church dependence upon the calendar of the Old Testament and they would have 1 foot in Judaism and 1 foot to Christianity and personal form of slavery. These lossy ceremonial loss had been fulfilled in Christ. They were there to bring the people of God to our knowledge of their sin and to a knowledge of their needs and they were pointers to Christ and once the fullness of times had come in, God sent forth his son, born of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those who are under the law to bring them out to all that bondage but so now they're going back into that bondage again. Legalism that's the issue in the church in Galatia.

we need to remind ourselves that, in another context, Paul might have said along with Jesus. If you love me, keep my commandments so wrong that you may obtain the price if he was in the context where levers were antinomian. They had no respect for the law at all. Paul would have a different message but here in Galatia. The issue before them is legalism obeying man-made laws obeying laws that have now been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Paul wasn't opposed to obeying the model law is not opposed to the 10 Commandments will see in chapters 5 and six of all makes many many requirements of the Christians in Galatia, but he wants to deal with this legalism and it's a snake and he wants to put his foot on it. He wants to crush it under this a symptom of this legalism and one of the symptoms of legalism is the loss of joy blossom blessedness selects a look at this passage under three headings as though Paul was a doctor and he's examining a patient and I want us to look at the symptoms. The diagnosis and the treatment the symptoms. The diagnosis of the treatment.

The symptoms was 15 blessedness what then has become of your blessedness is suggesting is that the term religion Christianity in Galatia had become difficult to become a duty to become a set of rules. It had become a set of obligations to meet settlers in the what the marks of saving faith.

That's a question we often ask ourselves too if you love me, keep my commandments. One of the marks of saving faith.

This is a desire to keep God's commandments. Well, how much do I need to keep them in order to maintain my blessedness and it's a spiral of despair, isn't it, that before long we were not good enough friend verse as it were sitting on the benches were not actually act playing the game were just sitting on the benches and were filled with uncertainty. I am to have her measure of joy, but how much joy and to demonstrate a love for my neighbor, but how much love for my neighbor or perhaps more subtly, I'm I'm to demonstrate a certain quality of repentance. How much repentance how much feeling. Do I need to have for that's repentance to be genuine for that repentance to be good enough to assure me of my status as a child of God done before you know it. Salvation is all about you and it's all about your efforts and it's all about your ability and continuity in keeping God's law.

Christianity becomes a treadmill and you didn't get off this treadmill and your filled every moment of the day with anxiety and with uncertainty and you lose the blessedness you lose the joy you lose the assurance to lose that confidence of who you are in Jesus Christ. It's like the person was constantly working works all day get into the office early comes home late is constantly checking his email that the dinner table one is talking to his wife is constantly texting, checking his email before he goes to sleep. He just has to write one more email. He wakes up in the middle of the night and looks at first reaches out for his phone just to see if there's more. Others can be done and Christianity can become like that can become all about duty and it can be all about performance and all about rituals send loss and the joy has gone and there's no sleep. There's no sense of peace in the heart and the soul constantly tired to your eating badly. You're not exercising somebody's balking in your ear all the time to do more and to not stop and don't get off this treadmill helmets to the key describes this condition. The glum sour faces of many Christians they'd rather give the impression that instead of coming from the father's joyful banquet.

They have just come from the sheriff who was auctioned off their sins and now authority they can't get them back again under that's the condition of the many Christians joyless Christianity will will it will eventually kill you. You need to be aware that the danger of it for. That's the symptom the loss of joy. The loss of blessedness will this look at the diagnosis and the diagnosis is. I've been saying is legalism. No, we need to correct the definition of legalism. For some people.

Legalism is any obedience to God's law of any sense of the demand or obligation under some Christians will use the word legalism when what they mean is I don't want to obey that law right now because it's not convenient for me right now in this period of my life friend and I'm I know it's a part of God's law. And I know I should keep it butter is inconvenient for me right now and and I'll I'll deal with that by calling it legalism that's not legalism is not legalism to obeying the moral law. If you obey the moral law in order to be justified. That's legalism. If you obey the moral law of God in order to get yourself into a right standing with God.

That's legalism. If you obey laws that are not gods loss man's laws. The laws made up by churches or group of churches or by individual pastors serve ministers with the great deal of for persona and so on. Then they have a following, and so on and they can become taskmasters they can put you in bondage. They can put you into a state of slavery to obey laws that God no longer require us to be abates. Laws serve ceremonial nature. In the Old Testament, and here we have hints that were obeying the Old Testament to a calendar and perhaps imposing the sender unless they celebrate the Passover, unless they celebrate Tabernacles unless they recognize the day of atonement, and so on. The connivance of Christianization objects, but still they are bound to obey this sermon calendrical law and policy notices some legalism there will probably imposing their son Gentiles, who were being introduced to their history and their being introduced to Abraham as their spiritual father to the Old Testament and all of its contents is relatively new to them and their young Christians and their very impressionable and these two days assessing you've got obey these laws and to was very difficult for these young Christians in Galatia to say no to the student assistant in addition they would down playing the role of the apostle Paul in saying mean things about him in destroying his Sir character and his cell reputation or one of the interesting questions.

For example, the two exhausts in the history of the denomination that I belong to. Currently the associate reformed to them. Church, the so-called issue of William Craig under question. The tourists are opposed to acts Christmas tree in the 18th century.

It is not sound and Orthodox to teach that we must forsake sin in order to coming to Christ else. A difficult question because it's in the negative. And it's in a double negative. So let me ask the question in a different way.

Do you need to forsake sin in order to come to Christ. You've got to think about that question very carefully how much sin do need to forsake in order to come to Christ. How much remorse do you need to have, how much should a sense of guilt do need to have before you can come to Christ and all of the sudden repentance and repentance is a requirement. Of course, but the quality of my repentance can become the standard, the Monica of my justification and all of a sudden I'm justified not by faith alone, but I'm justified by the quality of my repentance.

And all of a sudden it's a performance it's our obedience.

It's all works and you can dress that have been very fanciful spiritual language that sounds very biblical. Do you need to repent. In order to be a Christian, and yes and and no. Yes, we need to repent. But it's not all repentance that justifies us. It's not the quality of our repentance that justifies us in the history of the church.

This is sometimes been labeled preparation is that you need to prepare yourself in order to come to Christ, you need to be in a certain frame of mind you needs to have gone through various stages in your recognition of your sinfulness before you can come to Christ under this affected certain aspects of Puritanism, particularly in New England in the late 1600s and early 1700s.

Son Thomas Boston was adamant that this was incorrect. It violated it undermined the doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ alone. Paul hadn't come to Galatia to offer religion, moral codes of behavior that would produce a certain kind of citizen ship in Europe.

He had come to offer a message of grace.

He had come to offer freedom in Christ. He had come to emancipate those who by nature are slaves send in bondage and to set them free to be what God intends them to be to become children of God, and heirs of God to the diagnosis here is legalism.

I think were hardwired to legalism.

I think it's almost an instinct within us that we need to do just a little bit more, we need to try just a little bit harder in order to justify this enormous privilege of being a child of God. We can't really take it in that this is a free gift that God gives to us and we need to somehow or other, to earn center nicked by the quality perhaps of our emotional response to what God is offering under Galatians provides for us, then an important insights into the deconstruction live legalism and the deconstruction of the legalistic traits that lies just under the surface and and particularly for conservative Christians, particularly for Christians who believe in the moral law, and believe in sanctification and are opposed to a form of Christianity that is lawless sons and so on and can so easily become a form of legalism.

Sometimes we think that the cure for antinomianism is a little bit more legalism and sometimes we think that the cure of legalism. Mr. Wallace to just chill and still care and sin boldly. As with the one said and we swing from antinomianism to legalism back and forth and it's important for us to see that the cure for antinomianism in the cure for legalism is the same. It is Jesus and see no one in the picture but Jesus to remember who you are and your identity in Christ and that's the treatments that all office. He talks about the symptom in the loss of joy and he talks about the diagnosis and the diagnosis is that all suffering from legalism. They have listened to the voice of legalism that says try a little harder and then you can be assured of your status and the treatment you see there in verse 12 brothers.

I entreat you become as I am now you might read that and say what's the difference between that and their response to the Judaizers. The Judaizers will lording it over them under you'll see the tour when he says so in verse 17.

They need the Judaizers make much of you, but for no good purpose.

They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them and there's a little hint that that these Judaizers wanted obedience in order that they would make much of them and the ministers like that. They want to lord it over the people. It's a very powerful position to be hidden in a church and you're the voice of God to your the interpreter of Scripture. Your Jesus's mouthpiece and you can so easily abuse that ministers can sample on the consciences of Christians, since especially sensitive Christians who who really do want to please the Lord Jesus and they can become so easily Lord's and master's source.

The difference between that and Paul now saying become as I am and Paul says you remember when I came to you would've gouged out your eyes and given them to me. And in this a suggestion here that the thorn in the flesh, perhaps in the Corinthian vessels was an illness that Paul had done that affected his eyes others. A contemporary description of Paul in the first century and it's not flattering and that he was short and that he was ugly and had a hooked nose and so on. And that's not a flattering picture. There was nothing about the apostle Paul that made him Hollywood's TV preacher personality. He was nothing to look at. In fact, he was perhaps difficult to look at and as he came he came to Galatia in weakness, and Paul is saying become as I am not just in the sense I want you to follow me. Instead of following the Judaizers, but become as I am. He says that INT Cuba, Zion four. I also have become as you are and what is that for Paul is been crucified with Christ. I live yet not I but Christ lives in me and Paul's goals here in verse 19 my little children for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you and Paul uses this metaphor as though he's a woman giving birth to a child and is going through the agonies of childbirth because he loves these people and he cares for this people and he's such a loss as to why it is that there deviated from the truth. He once Jesus to be informed in them and legalism will not well posed into the back to the Old Testament once again that's in the next lesson and we look forward to hearing that message tomorrow as we continue Dr. Derek Thomas's series. No other gospel.

Paul's letter to the Galatians. I'm glad you joined us on this with the addition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb Weir Dr. Thomas say today that some Christians see a need for a little bit more work in their Christian life. While other Christians say we just need to relax and worry about it less.

That's why it's easy to swerve into antinomianism or legalism or back-and-forth. Paul's letter to the Galatians prevents us from during off the road and getting stuck in the ditch on either side. You can request this 14 part series by Dr. Thomas. It's on two DVDs and we will send it to you for a donation of any amount to litigator ministries you can make your request securely or you can call us with your gift at 800-435-4343 Dr. Thomas is the senior minister at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina, and a professor at reformed theological seminary and we are pleased that he is one of our regular teaching fellows as well. It's always an honor when it comes to our campus to teacher series like the one where hearing this week. Again, we do hope you request this series with your gift of any amount, let me give you her contact information. Again, our phone number is 800-435-4343 and her web address is Renewing Your is always encouraging when we hear from you. I sat down with one of our ministry partners recently.

His name is Bill and he told me about the very practical benefit. He and his wife have realized through our resources Ligon near Dr.'s parole table talk Renewing Your Mind. These have brought us closer together as a couple. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind what you all do here has brought us closer together as a couple doing jointly table talk every morning.

We both have quiet time and to table talk and then prayer time and being able to do that to discuss the articles that we read the daily articles and the other articles from contributors to be able to talk about those to be able to share them has been a really wonderful part of our our day in our relationship and I had a pastor some years ago we were talking about starting the day with quiet time in prayer and Bible study and and how important that was. And I have found over the years. When I do that when we do that the day goes pretty well if were busy. We've got something going on an appointment or something didn't seem that he works out quite so well so we guard that quiet time. That time of prayer and and Bible study with table talk.

We guard that jealously, is an encouragement here. We thank Bill for sharing that with this table talk really is a great way to start your day with Bible study and prayer, and when you subscribe to table talk. Not only will you receive the monthly print edition also gain access to the full library of archived editions online. Learn more. Table talk tomorrow will continue Dr. Thomas's series with a message titled set free in Christ. I hope you'll join us Thursday for Renewing Your Mind

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