22 May Words of Grace – Don’t Be Afraid of Self-Discipline for Fear of Legalism
I have heard Christians use the word “legalism” when they have discussions about self-discipline. There seems to be confusion about what legalism is. Legalism is depending on our efforts to secure and maintain right standing with God. We become legalists when we fail to grasp the reality of God’s grace that grants us salvation by faith and not by works.
Once we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we are called to exercise self-control and practice discipline in order to live a life in keeping with our salvation. We do not practice self-discipline to keep ourselves saved. We do it to live in keeping with salvation. The motive behind self-discipline is important. If it is for salvation, it is legalism. If it is from salvation, and in keeping with salvation, it is discipleship.
Both discipline and legalism have to do with the glory of God. Discipline that flows from our new life in Christ is for the purpose of bringing glory to God. Legalism that seeks to obtain right standing with God by works actually competes with the glory of God’s grace.
This Sunday at Grace, we will consider Paul’s teaching about self-discipline for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). I hope we will all see that we don’t need to be afraid of self-discipline for fear of legalism.
Take some time this weekend to read this passage, and pray for our Sunday gathering for worship.