Law and Legalism

Read 2 Corinthians 3:12-18

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17

The result of Old Covenant ministry is bondage; but the result of New Covenant ministry is freedom in the Spirit. Legalism keeps people immature, and immature people must live by rules and regulations (see Gal. 4:1-7). God wants His children to obey, not because of an external code (the law), but because of internal character (the Spirit). Christians do not live under the law, but this does not mean that we are lawless! The Spirit of God writes the Word of God on our hearts, and we obey our Father because of the new life He has given us within.

The lure of legalism is still with us. False cults prey on professed Christians and church members, as did the Judaizers in Paul's day. We must learn to recognize false cults and reject their teachings. But there are also gospel-preaching churches that have legalistic tendencies
and keep their members immature, guilty, and afraid. They spend a great deal of time dealing with the externals, and they neglect the cultivation of the inner life. They exalt standards, and they denounce sin, but they fail to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ. Sad to say, some New Testament churches have an Old Testament ministry.

Paul said that his own ministry was triumphant (see 2 Cor. 2:14) and glorious (see 3:7-18). The two go together. When our ministry involves the glory of God--we cannot quit!

Applying God's Truth:

1. What are some evidences of "freedom in the Spirit" that you have observed in your life?
2. How do you prevent legalistic thinking from affecting your spiritual freedom?
3. How could your personal ministry become more triumphant? More glorious?

Devotions for Encouragement and Maturity. ©2005 by Dr. Warren Wiersbe. Used by permission of David C Cook. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

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