Legalism vs License


Jude 1:4 “… They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”

God never intended us to live in a legalistic manner. But the flip side of legalism is license.

A few weeks back I spoke on legalism in church, how living a legalistic lifestyle is not attractive to the world which we are trying to reach. Whilst a ‘loose living’ lifestyle may appear attractive on the outside, it’s actually a facade…it doesn’t hold any weight!

This may seem like an awkward balance to get right. The less legalistic I want to be the more license I give myself, but if try to avoid that ‘loose’ lifestyle I become legalistic!

Catch 22.

Ever feel like you’re walking on a thin wall, with legalism on one side and license on the other?

But the whole idea of salvation is that there is no catch. It’s not meant to be difficult. It’s not meant to be a balancing act. It’s an out working act.

Philippians 2:12 “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”

We are called to work out our salvation, in both senses of the word. Both working it out like a mystery, understanding it, bottoming it out, but also drawing it out from within us.

Our salvation is meant to influence the way we live, as the Hillsong song goes – from the inside out.

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Notice the order in which we do good works here? We can only do good works because are first a good work of God. God worked when he made us and he is still working now as he shapes us.

Therefore the root of my good works is who I am in Christ! It’s so crucial to understand that order…

1) Legalism says that we do good works to earn our standing in Christ.
2) License simply denies who we are in Christ so it has no useful effect.

Out working our salvation means that we fully understand and acknowledge who we are in Christ, and that produces a good work in us.

Therefore our challenge today is not to control our actions in a legalistic manner, but to allow our faith to influence the way we live.

As much as you can, draw out your faith into the way you live and the choices you make everyday. Go over your day and consider whether your choices/responses/reactions were of a godly nature or not.

Increase your passion for God. Understand who you are in Christ. Ask what does salvation mean for you…and the good works will follow.


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