Pastor, the Shocking Contrast Between Legalism and Grace.

We can choose to define ourselves as pastors by what we’re doing or not doing to please or displease legalists.

Or we can choose to focus on our personal resources and giftedness in Christ obtained only by grace.

Carrying around a to-do and a to-not-to-do list that self-proclaimed church hall monitors think you should maintain enough is exhausting.

Still, many of us seem afraid to launch out into what the legalists warn us is the wilderness of grace.

But, if we consult the New Testament we’ll see that there is a shocking contrast between grace and legalism.

It’s not that grace is a good idea for some crazies who want to have a little more freedom than their more sane and legalistic friends. It’s that legalism doesn’t work and grace is the only way.

The writers of the New Testament are clear: Believers should resist legalism, which opposes grace. Christ frees believers from the Old Covenant Law (Romans 6:14; 7:1-6; Galatians 3:13-14; 5:1; Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 8:13), and Paul warns us to maintain our freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:1).

Still not convinced? Here’s a contrast* I’ve shared with many sincere followers of Christ over the years:

Legalism operates through the flesh, Romans 8:3. Grace operates through faith, Romans 4:16; Ephesians 2:8.

Legalism cannot save or sanctify, Romans 3:20; 7:14-25; 8:3; Galatians 2:16, 21; 3:1-5.Grace can save and sanctify, Romans 3:24-26, 6:14; Ephesians 2:8: Titus 2:11-12.

Legalism depends on human power, Romans 7:18-25; 8:8; Galatians 3:3. Grace depends on divine power, Romans 6:14; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Ephesians 2:8-9.

Legalism produces works of the Law by the flesh, Romans 3:20; Galatians 3:2, 5. Grace produces good works by faith, Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:8.

Legalism emphasizes flesh and prideful works of the flesh, Romans 7:18; 8:2-3; Galatians 5:19-21. Grace emphasizes the Spirit & glorifies God with His fruit, Romans 8:4, 13; Galatians 5:16-18, 22-23.

Legalism has no power against sin, Colossians 2:23; Romans 7:18-19. Grace conquers sin, Romans 6:14; 8:13; Galatians 5:16.

Legalism brings spiritual bondage and wretchedness, Romans 6:14; 7:1-6, 24; Galatians 3:23-25; 4:3, 9; 5:1. Grace brings spiritual freedom, life, and peace, John 8:31-32; Romans 6:14; 7:1-6; 8:6; 1 Corinthians 9:20; Galatians 3:24-25; 4:7, 21-31; 5:1, 18.

Legalism causes frustration, Romans 7:18-19. Grace Promotes progress, Romans 8:13; 1 Corinthians 15:10; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:13-14; 2 Peter 3:18

Legalism fails, Romans 7:18-25. Grace succeeds, Romans 5:20; 6:14; 8:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 5:16.

*These contrasts come from The Forgotten Blessing by Henry Holloman (Word)

Question: If you’re still not convinced, what could I possibly do to move you from the prison of legalism to the joy of grace?