If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” Colossians 2:20-21
This Sunday, as we continue the series in Colossians, we are going to approach the topic that Paul has been directing our attention throughout the early part of the letter. In fact, Paul has laid the foundation of establishing our identity in Christ and now he is going to reveal how legalism erodes our faith in Christ.
One of the dangers with legalism is that it causes people to take their eyes off of Jesus. Paul has lifted Jesus high in this letter. He has proclaimed the beauty of Christ perhaps better than any other section of scripture. Reflect and remember the high and lofty proclamation of Christ from chapter 1:15-20.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
The beauty of Christ is more attractive than anything in this world! Legalism is a direct assault on turning our affection away from Christ. When legalism has accomplished this goal the truth of Christ has been replaced by a lie and our faith in the Lord is under assault. Here are three dangers of turning our hearts away from Christ through the deceptive trap of legalism.
1. Legalism rejects the power of God’s Spirit in the lives of his people.
The deception of legalism is present when people use rules and regulations to force others toward order. These un-biblical rules are put in place to curb wicked behavior. As a result the power of God’s transformative Spirit is no longer sufficient! Our actions proclaim we need more than the redemptive power of the cross.
2. Legalism loses sight of the gospel.
The message of the gospel is simple; we are saved by faith in Jesus alone, apart from any works of righteousness. The very heart of the gospel is under assault as we turn toward a works based salvation. Throughout his message Paul presents a solid message of justification by faith alone. He reminds those in Christ that we are called
“obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5) not because faith is a work that earns salvation but because to trust in Jesus alone is to follow His command. As we obey this command we actually reject any attempt to make a claim upon God for salvation.
3. Legalism makes Christianity look like every other religion in the world.
Christianity is a religion where God is glorified for saving people who could never save themselves. It’s all about His wonderful, matchless grace. Every other religion in the world is humanity’s attempt at making their god pleased with them through their own merit. Legalism causes Christianity to look like every other religion in the world, and not much like the Christianity of the Bible.
Our Pastor writes most of the blog posts we publish, however, occasionally some of our other church leadership (some staff, some volunteer) who also contribute to the New Life blog.