Legalism (Acts 15:10)

Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?

Acts 15:10

It seems that legalistic people are often those who are least able to keep the laws they want to subject others to. Peter points this out plainly when he says that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear the yoke of The Law. The Law is good, let there be no mistake about that, but it cannot save me. It has no power to do so. Law can only inform me what the standard is. Meeting that standard is on me.

And that is what Peter is getting at, I think. No one except God Himself can meet the requirements of The Law. We can only look at it and shake our heads in disappointment. We fall so very short of that goal. Which begs the question: Why do we want to subject others to The Law when we know very well that we ourselves cannot fulfill it?

There is very little point in telling someone that lying is wrong and against God’s Law without following that up with the Good News (gospel) that God has, in His mercy, made provision for the times we fall short (forgiveness) and wants to enable us to obey out of love and by His empowering. The Bible tells me that it is God at work in me both to will and to do of His good pleasure. If I want to obey God’s Law so that I might please Him, that is God working in me. If I am then able to follow through, that is God working in me still more.

All of this boils down to some very practical things for me to consider and do. Let me consider that neither I nor anyone I know (Christ excepted) has ever been able to fulfill The Law. Let me further consider that God has paid the punishment of The Law so that I am free to attempt to obey The Law in order that I might please Him. It is no longer out of fear of punishment that I seek to obey, but out of gratitude for what He has done for me and from a heart that loves Him. And when I fail to meet the standard, as I inevitably will, there is grace and forgiveness to stand me back up and let me keep pursuing. With those things in mind, let me not subject others to The Law that I cannot keep, but let others know that for all those times when we fail to keep The Law (which we can all secretly admit is right and good, even if we decry it openly), God has made provision in His Son. There is Good News to spread and I cannot spread both the messages of Grace and Law.


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