The past two weeks, I had encounters on and about legalism. Here’re what I observed: (I know about this long before, it’s just going back to me now)
1. With legalism, the BUT always comes after the good news. With the gospel, the BUT comes after the bad news. The gospel tells us that we are hopeless BUT Jesus came to save us. Legalism on the other hand says, yes Jesus died for you BUT you need to keep the law to be saved. :D Funny, eh?
2. “Legalists don’t dismiss Christ. They trust in Christ a lot. But they don’t trust in Christ alone.” (Max Lucado, It’s not about me, p. 114) True enough, legalists look real religious. In fact, they are the most religious people I’ve ever known. Unfortunately, that religousity makes them trust not on Jesus alone but sadly, to their own efforts of obeying the law.
3. Legalism is addicting. And just like an addictive substance, it kills your judgement. I have a friend who’s wife is an inactive Adventist. Take note of the underlined word. Inactive means she’s already working on Sabbath (Saturday) and probably not even going to church on Vespers (Friday). She said she already accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. But in the midst of this, she still feel guilty for not being able to observe the Sabbath. The “hook” is still present. I’ve known of a lot of former Adventists not joining other Christian groups because they would like to worship “only on a Sabbath”. It’s Sabbath, nothing else. Where is Jesus in the picture, you may ask. Oh well, he’s sitting right there in the corner because for most of them, the law, or in this case, the Sabbath is the center of their Christian experience.
Sad, but it’s happening. Ironically, here’s an excellent article from Adventist Review on legalism. Doctrinal differences aside, I recommend this article to everyone who feels legalism is eating them.