Today’s Reading: Colossians 2:8-23

There is some things that as a welsh man you should know. Did you know for example, that Welshmen are prohibited from entering Chester before the sun rises – and have to leave again before the sun goes down, according to an old bylaw or that it is still technically OK to shoot a Welshman on a Sunday inside the city walls – as long as it’s after midnight and with a crossbow. What about that Oliver Cromwell decided he didn’t want people eating mince pies on Christmas Day, so banned them from doing so in the 17th century. Seemingly, you still can’t.

In Florida, a woman may be fined for falling asleep under a hair dryer. In Indiana, citizens are not allowed to attend a movie house or ride in a public streetcar within four hours after eating garlic.

We tend to think others are legalistic, but that we’re not. The fact is that we’re all legalistic by nature. We tend to judge others by our own standards of what is acceptable and what isn’t. In essence, we think our sins smell better than other people’s. As I’ve said before, we have very little tolerance for people who sin differently than we do.

Legalism can take a vibrant faith and make it dull and lifeless. It can evaporate enthusiasm, jettison joy, and stifle spirituality. Instead of finding freedom through Christ, many believers become burdened by the church.

Legalism makes us narrow and divisive. The legalist insists that everyone live up to the standard they have adopted. In other words, everyone needs to be like me.  Legalism makes it impossible for people to see Jesus.

Legalism is weeds are under the surface in each of our lives. Kneeling to pray is a good thing but it can easily become the standard by which we judge other people’s spirituality. In short, if we’re not careful we’ll default to a performance-based discipleship.

That’s exactly what was starting to happen in the church at Colosse. The New Testament books of Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews also lampoon legalism. We must be taught over and over that everything is by grace. We’re saved by grace and we grow by grace.

Paul tells us that we don’t belong to the world anymore. We don’t get to heaven by following a list of do’s and don’ts. And, we don’t live the Christian life that way either. We cannot earn God’s favour. All we can do is receive it. Charles Spurgeon puts it this way: “I have found, in my own spiritual life, that the more rules I lay down for myself, the more sins I commit.”

The best way to pull the weeds of legalism is to remember our legal position before God ­ we are complete, alive, forgiven, and we have the victory.

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