Are my sins forgiven?
Is the gospel not good?
Do I serve like I should?
If I’m cold, shine Your Light.

Do I love the world more?
Do I think that I’m good?
Do I live like I should?
If I’m cold, shine Your Light.

Do I share Your love well?
Do I long for Your Word?
Do I pray like I should?
If I’m cold, shine Your Light.

Do I love my neighbors?
Do I cling to idols?
Do I give like I should?
If I’m cold, shine Your Light.

Are my sins forgiven?
Is the gospel not good?
Is grace misunderstood?

Behind the lines

Our desire to read God’s word, pray, and serve others stems from hearts changed by grace. We then grow in these disciplines through joyful obedience as we live out the commands found in the Bible.

However, we will not do this perfectly. Sometimes we’ll slack and grow cold to these disciplines (often due to busyness or laziness), but then God shines His light and draws us back to His word and commands (for He disciplines whom He loves).

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline (Hebrews 12:3-7 ESV)?

Yet, there is another aspect to spiritual disciplines that can be sinful. We need to be careful that legalism doesn’t creep in because of our own super spiritual checklist. If this occurs, soon guilt and our own laws can take us (and others) down a path of works that rob us of His joy.

Tim Chester’s book You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions addresses this idea:

“Our rituals and disciplines can’t change us.”

“We all have a strong tendency to want to live by a list of rules – it’s called legalism.”

“Legalism is appealing for two reasons. First, it makes holiness manageable. A heart wholly devoted to God is a tough demand, but a list of ten rules I can cope with.”

“…we’re no longer under law, but grace. This is counter-intuitive,  People think that law and legalism will best motivate us to strive to do what’s right. But its grace that enables us to live for God.”

I sometimes fall into selfishness and “woe is me” moments and have to remind myself of the gospel and God’s grace. Who am I serving (myself, man, or God)? Am I dependent on my works to feel good about myself? Has legalism crept in? Am I trying to live up to someone else’s expectations? Or, am I motivated to obedience by a heart changed by grace and a love for God’s word?

If you are in Christ, your sins are forgiven and the gospel is good! May He pour out His grace, change our hearts, open our eyes to legalism, and shine upon us so we walk in His light. The below passage is not specific to legalism, but I think the ideas expressed here can be applied to legalism (and all kinds of sin).

…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:8-17 ESV).

Do you have areas of legalism that you need to confess and deal with?

May He shine His light…


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