Grapes on the Vine, God's Abundant Provision for His People

A daily devotion for February 16th

Legalism: False Christianity

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1

Legalism. We tend to think that everybody else has it, but that we don't. It's like the common cold. We don't understand what it is or how to cure it, but almost everyone suffers from it, and we find it to be very highly contagious. Legalism is like that. It comes upon you and you hardly know what has happened, but there it is. The symptoms are suddenly present and you don't know what to do with it — certainly not how to cure it — and so you suffer through it, but don't know what is wrong.

But legalism is one of the favorite weapons of the enemy. He loves to get Christians to be legalistic, for then he has destroyed their enjoyment of the Spirit and he can use them to spread havoc among other believers. That is what happened in Galatia. Here was a group of young Christians who had a fantastic beginning. They had given themselves totally to Christ. But, after a while, legalism set in. What had been a bright and marvelous testimony of the grace of God was being turned into a dull, apathetic group of religionists — cold, barren, and empty.

This is what legalism will do. It destroys! It did then, and it does the same thing today. I know of no affliction in Christendom which is more widespread, and more devastating in its destructiveness, than this. Across the world today many churches are sunken into a pall of boredom and futility, largely because of the legalistic spirit which has throttled their spiritual vitality.

Legalism can be described as false Christianity. It sounds Christian, and looks Christian, but it is not true Christianity. It as a spurious fake, an empty, hollow counterfeit of the real thing. True Christianity, on the other hand, is to manifest genuinely Christ-like behavior by dependence on the working of the Spirit of God within, motivated by a love for the glory and honor of God. This is the genuine article. There is an expected pattern of Christ-like behavior. There is also the necessary element of a sufficient and adequate power. The good news is that God has given us a sufficient and adequate power, indwelling us, available to us at all times, so that we never have an excuse for not being what we ought to be. With the Spirit of Jesus Christ indwelling us, we have what it takes — a sufficient and adequate power. There is also a powerful, compelling hunger for the glory of God. In short, the true Christian life is fulfilling a law by means of a unique power because of an overwhelming desire.

Lord, help me to identify those legalistic tendencies in my life, and live in the freedom of the Spirit that you have made available to me.

Life Application

Will you ask the Lord to help you recognize and eradicate any aspects of legalism in your life, and seek to live in the freedom of the Holy Spirit's power?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages


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