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LICENSE, LEGALISM AND GRACE

Diagram 1

What is "license"?
     "I am free from the law, so I can sin all I want and I will still be forgiven."
     "sinning so grace may increase" (Rom 5:20-6:2b) (Jude 4; Gal 5:13)
What is "legalism"?
     Legality = "an attempt to control outward actions by means of rules enforced
                    by penalty" Ray Stedman
     Legalism = It is what results when men or women usurp God's Throne and                      take His place as God.  They, then, demand that others must                      obey them and their rules.  These rules are presented as a way                      to earn favor with God and prestige with men.  When men do not                      obey them, they heap guilt on them, slander them, begin to                      despise and hate them, and even attempt in one way or another                      to eradicate them (as the legalistic Pharisees sought to eradicate                      Jesus Christ).         

Ten Characteristics of "legalism" compared to Ten Characteristics of "grace":
1. Manmade religiosity: Putting our narrow (usually self-serving) interpretations
                                   of the Bible on the same level as the Bible (Mark
                                   7:1-13)
1. Accepting graciousness: Accepting those who disagree with us in areas                                        where the Bible gives no specific directions                                        (Romans 14:1-4, 17-19)
                                       CHECK: IS IT MY RULE OR THE BIBLE'S RULE?
2. Prideful religiosity: Believing that those who follow our manmade rules and                                 we are superior to those who do not obey our rules (Lk                                 18:9-12)
2. Humble graciousness: Recognize that at the foot of the cross, no one is                                      inferior or superior (Rom 3:23; Isa 64:6)
                                     CHECK: DO I FEEL SUPERIOR?
3. Hypocritical religiosity: Give the impression that we are without fault (Matt                                      23:25-28)
3. Authentic graciousness: See ourselves in the presence of God's pure light                                        and admit our sinfulness (I John 1:5-10; I Timothy                                        1:15)
                                       CHECK: AM I OPEN ABOUT MY SINS & FAILURES?
4. Boastful religiosity: Exhibit one's religious accomplishments before men
                                (Matt 23:5-7, 6:1-18)
4. Selfless graciousness: Recognize that we have absolutely nothing to boast                                      about before God (Eph 2:8-10; Rom 3:27,28; Jer                                      9:24; I Cor 4:7)
                                     CHECK: AM I GIVING ALL THE GLORY TO GOD?
5. Nitpicking religiosity: Emphasize the minor details of religious performance                                    and ignore what is most important to God (Matt                                    23:23,24)
5. Forbearing graciousness: Are patient and forbearing with those who fail in                                           various areas in the Christian walk, because love,                                           grace, and mercy are what is most important to                                           God  (Rom 13:9,10;  Matt 22:37-40; I Tim 1:5)
                                          CHECK: AM I CRITICAL OR PATIENT?
6. Tyrannical religiosity: Require others to obey our rigid and inflexible system                                     of rules (Matt 12:1-14; Deut 23:25)
6. Servant-hearted graciousness: Recognize that God wants us to serve, not                                                   to be served (Mk 10:45; Jn 3:17; Jn 10:10)
                                                  CHECK: AM I DEMANDING OR SERVING?
7. Burden-adding religiosity: Add the burden of our rules and our condemnation                                           to men, rather than remove burdens from them                                           (Matt 23:4; James 4:11,12; Lk 6:37; Rom 2:1)
7. Burden-removing graciousness: Desire to remove condemnation, rather                                                    than add it to people; for God has freed                                                    them from condemnation (II Cor 3:6; Matt                                                    11:28-30)
                                                   CHECK: AM I HEAPING OR HELPING?
8. Policemen religiosity:  See ourselves as moral policemen who are constantly                                     on patrol to see if others are obeying our system of                                     rules and regulations (Matt 12:10; Mk 3:2; Lk 20:20)
8. Firemen graciousness: On patrol to help people and rescue people from sin,                                       guilt, and condemnation (Matt 7:5; Gal 6:1; James                                       5:19,20; I Thess 5:14,15)
                                      CHECK: AM I POLICING OR RELIEVING?
9. Sadistic religiosity: Enjoy seeing people punished and getting what they                                deserve (John 8:1-11)
9. Forgiving graciousness: Eager to forgive, not to condemn people (Eph 4:32-
                                       5:2; Isa 30:18)
                                       CHECK: AM I CONDEMNING OR FORGIVING?
10. Murderous religiosity: Grows to hate and despise those who do not obey                                       our rules and regulations (Matt 23:29-37)
10 Loving graciousness: Love others, even though they fail us in so many ways
                                   (Col 3:12-14;  I Cor 13:4-7)
                                   CHECK: AM I HATING OR LOVING?

RESOURCES: TRANSFORMING GRACE by Bridges; AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANITY by Ray Stedman; THE GRACE AWAKENING by Swindoll

ASSIGNMENT:
1. Read Matthew 18:21-35  What is its main message to us?
2. What is the difference between God's holy law and legalism?