Rules, rules, rules. No one likes them except the people enforcing them!
The story was told some years ago of a pastor who found the roads blocked one Sunday morning and was forced to skate on the river to get to church, which he did. When he arrived the elders of the church were horrified that their preacher had skated on the Lord’s day. After the service they held a meeting where the pastor explained that it was either skate to church or not go at all. Finally one elder asked, “Did you enjoy it?” When the preacher answered, “No,” the board decided it was all right!
The essence of legalism is trusting in the religious activity rather than trusting in God. It is putting our confidence in a practice rather than in a Person. And without fail this will lead us to love the practice more than the Person.Read: Colossians 2:20-3:4
20 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21 "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
There was a group teaching the Colossians that they had to just say "No" to the world (v.21). This group wrote books, spoke on the circuit ... probably did podcasts to get their message out. They created a measuring stick to determine who was really serious about their faith.
And so these believers worked hard to control their desires (v. 23). The problem ... it did not work! It looked like they were doing it for God but His vote: it was self imposed, prideful and harsh. This was not God's plan. This was a joy killer.
Legalism is a killer.
If we are honest we will admit that it is easier to create rules then live in relationship. It is easier to put confidence in a practice then in a Person. Grace is so hard to accept!
Fortunately we are not left to following rules. Paul's remedy: live in the power of the resurrection (v. 1). How do we do this? Set your eyes on Jesus and stop looking at yourself (v. 2). Say "Yes" to Him. Let him have control. Choose relationship with a Person over a practice that makes you feel secure.
There are many joy killers out there that will spy out your freedom in Christ and try to squelch it. Your joy is a mark of your salvation. Your freedom points to your release from slavery. Live as if you have been set free from sin and death because you have (v. 3)!
Oh, and it is ok to ice skate on Sunday. Do it with joy!
Examine your life for practices that are more important than Jesus. Beware, it might be in closely held places. If these believers thought what they were doing was worshipful and humble chances are you will too.
Do you love a practice more than a Person?
Are you living in resurrection power? Will you spend time in prayer saying "Yes" to God today?
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