legalism

Death to Self is not Death of Self

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10 Yesterday, we discussed what it means to die to ourselves, so today, I want to point out what that doesn’t mean. Unfortunately, many of us who were raised in the church learned that death to self means death of self, but this is not the case. There is an important distinction to be made here that keeps us from falling into the trap of legalism and self-condemnation.  Death of self teaches that I don’t matter and that all of my desires are bad or wrong. In other words, it crucifies me as an individual. This, however, is not how God designed it to be. He created each one of His children uniquely and with a purpose, and as the Bible states, we are His handiwork,

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Forgiving Pharisees

“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.” – Luke 7:36 For the past couple of days, we’ve looked at two of the four groups of “untouchables” whom Jesus willingingly touched — lepers and Samaritans, and today, I want to look at the third — Pharisees. Interestingly, when we read the gospels, the religious leaders and teachers of the law often appear more villainous than the most violent criminals. Perhaps this is because they were constantly trying to trap the Lord. Yet despite their general hostility toward Him and His teaching, He wanted them to understand the truth, so He welcomed them to learn of His heart. He responded to their accusations with bold words, yet He went out of His way to let them know that He cared about them. For instance, He met

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If Not For Grace, It Would Be Garbage

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ…” – Philippians 3:7,8 Yesterday, we talked about the Apostle Paul and his life as a religious “superstar” prior to meeting Jesus. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews — a stellar Pharisee — and his accomplishments in the realm of Judaism were huge. He sought to keep the whole letter of the law and held everyone else to the same standard of perfection. Unfortunately, though his intentions were to do right by God, his religiosity caused him to become legalistic and hardened. But everything changed the day he was introduced to Christ. On a trip to Damascus to persecute followers

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The Sting of Severity

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” – Philippians 2:14-16 When Epaphroditus visited the imprisoned Apostle Paul, he had an opportunity to share with his friend, who was also the congregation’s founder, that false teaching had seeped into the doctrine of the church at Philippi. Though they had been schooled in freedom and grace, they were allowing legalism in things like dietary restrictions and mandatory circumcision to penetrate their ranks. Such unfortunate news compelled Paul to address these practices in a letter, and thus we have the book of Philippians. In this famous epistle, the apostle gives guidance to the church about legalism, which is something he could speak on with great

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