Thursday, April 20, 2006

Are you a legalist? (part one)

I'm about to indulge in a little 'preaching'. But, if anything, I'm preaching at myself because I am always tempted to go back to legalism. You know, as a dog...

Do you have trouble worshiping? Because of the recent Chuck Colsen incident, I guess I've been thinking about worship, and worship songs, ect... I was just remembering how difficult it used to be for me to focus in a worship service. The primary reason was that I was a staunch legalist. I think the root of legalism is pride, which can also be described as self-obsession. A legalist cannot worship because they cannot stop thinking about themselves, or others in comparison to themselves. A legalist can be surrounded by joyful worshipper and all the while there is a dialogue going on inside: "I can't believe she's wearing that, I don't agree with that line of the song, should I raise my hand now, he shouldn't be talking to her, why doesn't that stupid woman take her baby out of here instead of disrupting the whole service, the worship band is really off today, how do those people get on the worship team anyway (even I can sing better than that), who writes these songs anyway, I don't think I read the Bible once this week, hey I don't think my husband did either how come he's raising his hands and acting like a saint...............

The legalist doesn't really know God, but they think they do. In fact, often they think they're an expert on what really pleases God. And though I still battle thoughts like this during worship sometimes, I'm not controlled by them anymore.
Is it because I have finally conquered myself? No. It's because I finally experienced the grace of God. God showed me (and is always showing me) that this show isn't about me, it's about him. There will never be a way to truly rise above sin apart from his grace; there will never be a way for me to glorify myself in the face of God. I think God is utterly delighted when our plans for battling sin fail utterly. We weren't meant to figure out a way to obey the law, we were meant to throw up are hands crying, "I CAN'T DO IT!!!HELP ME!! CHANGE ME!!SAVE ME!!"

And when we finally humble ourselves and do this, then he comes. He comes with love, grace, hope, power, and salvation. I appeal to every proud legalist, please give up your fight. There is truly no honor in it, and the praise of men is all you will ever get. Surrender to your All-Merciful King, and enter into worship like you never have before.


Baxter's Boy said...

That's a really powerful and needed-to-be-heard post. Thanks so much for that. How quickly we indulge in fierce debates defending our favourite songs and without realising the tentacles of Legalism are back and are meaning that we are ceasing to live in the light and freedom of Christ's death and resurrection, and are living by LAW!


So thanks for preaching! Do it more often!

Don said...

I agree with Dan, Julie. I had the same battle you describe going on in me for years, till the Lord in His righteous mercy allowed me to be squashed like a bug and suffer the consequences of some sin I'd committed. Then He told me to forgive and pray for blessing -- not retribution or judgement -- on some people who were responsible for my being squashed (people who, of course, had their own sins of which I knew).

That process of being humbled - judged yet forgiven and restored later by God - and knowing that the call to intercede for other sinful people came directly from God, worked some amazing grace in me. I started cutting other people a lot more slack in my formerly perfect mind, and started enjoying worship, and life itself, a lot more.

My intellectual knowledge of grace and mercy now had some fresh, very personal experience to meditate upon, and from it sprang outpourings of gratitude to God, and some new grace toward other imperfect people like me.

jul said...

The only way to know what grace really is is to experience it. And the only way to experience it is by the Holy Spirit actively revealing truth to us, by drawing us into his presence and spending time with us. Then we really get to know something worth knowing. It never ceased to amaze me how faithful God is to teach us and change us, to our everlasting pleasure and his eternal glory.

Baxter's Boy said...

I think there is an element of truth to the fact that you ONLY can experience grace. It's something, I think, that can transcend the mind. For example, one of my favourite hymns is "Before the Throne of God above". The anti-fluffy ones would approve, it's a didatic hymn.

Yet something within me just rebels whenever I get to the line that says; "For God the Just is satisfied to look on HIM and pardon ME". I can't deal with it! My head just can't grasp the fact that God the Just would be happy with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and therefore pardon Dan the sinner!!

So if I was just a "head" person and disapproved of tears, emotion, affections etc etc (all the charismatic 'stuff' ;) ) then my experience of the grace of God would be incredibly limited!

But as Jul says, the Spirit has a marvellous awesome way of coming down and just touching hearts and opening the tear floodgates when we sing that - and hence I sometimes can get the most amazing overwhelming experience of the grace of God!!

Does that make sense?

jul said...

Thank God that makes sense! I'm so glad I can say I know what you're talking about. It's funny you mentioned that particular line for "Before the Throne.." I can still remember the first time I ever heard/sang it. It was at a worship conference in Canada and Stuart Townend was leading with Phatfish. I didn't know that line was coming, I was just singing along and WHAM! I sang that line and almost choked on the tears that come pouring down my face. Ahhh those were the days! May God be merciful to me again. And again and again and again. I want to experience so much more of his presence. I desperately need to.

Daelon said...

Amazing. I love how grace just seems so ridiculous and foolish. But only then can we experience true worship and not forced emotion. I totally relate to everything you said.

jul said...


Welcome and thanks for your comment. Glad you like what you're reading... I seem to gravitate to writing about grace most of the time (that's why I recently changed my blog's name to what you see now hehe).