Legalism Loots Lasting Joy

In Galatians four, Paul was presenting his concerns to the believers of Galatia. Those who had initially embraced the gift of grace given by Christ Jesus, were setting it aside so that they could turn back to observing the laws. Clearly, full of great concern, Paul pleaded with his fellow followers of the faith. What has happened to all your joy?… – (Galatians 4:15a) Paul perceived that the Galatians had lost the joy of their salvation because of legalism.

 

Legalism is a dangerous and slippery slope, and a thief of joy. It can take away joy because:

(1) It makes people feel guilty rather than loved.

(2) It produces self-hatred rather than humility.

(3) It stresses performance over relationship.

(4) It points out how far short we fall rather than how far we’ve come because of what Christ did for us. – (NIV footnotes)

 

If guilt, self-hatred, need to perform, or inadequacy are ruling our lives, we need to check our focus. Is faith reigning in our hearts, or have the reigns of legalism somehow crept into the corners and began to steal our joy? Let us throw off every burden that hinders us and allow Christ’s grace to cover us. May we walk by faith, and leave the links of legalism that try to bind us, far behind.

 

Joy that is complete,Legalism Loots Lasting Joy

must learn to let go;

walk away from chains,

and by faith, follow.

Faith receives His grace,

and lets go of guilt;

embraces His love,

where His peace is built.

It knows not self-hate,

shows humility;

needs not to perform,

is secure, set free.

It does not point out,

how far we fall short;

but rather looks up,

to Him who supports.

May we walk by faith,

embracing what’s true;

it’s all about Him,

not how much we do.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the Source of all grace and joy. Thank You that You came as the fulfillment of the law, as not one of us could ever truly follow the law. Thank You that Your grace is a gift that You give freely, and not something that we can somehow earn. Forgive us for any area of our lives where we may have fallen into the trap of legalism. Illuminate the truth and lead us out of the spaces and mindsets You never intended for us. Teach us to trust You and Your glorious gift of grace with all that we are. Lead us to live and love in the fullness of Your grace as You intended, and may many come to know You as a result. Be glorified, O God, as we walk in the freedom that Your forgiveness and grace have granted. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

Finding Joy

“What has happened to all your joy? …” – (Galatians 4:15a)  Paul did not mince words while communicating with the Galatians.  He was greatly concerned, as he had heard that they were returning to the letter of the law, rather than remaining in the freedom found through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

As a spiritual parent of sorts, Paul was passionately protective of the Galatians.  He did not want for even one of them to be caught up in legalism and lose the joy that they had found in their salvation, that came through faith in Christ alone.  His exhortation for the Galatians, is meant for us as well.  Legalism was the joy thief of the time, and often is for us still, today.

“Legalism can take away joy because:

1) It makes people feel guilty rather than loved.

2) It produces self-hatred rather than humility.

3) It stresses performance over relationship.

4) It points out how far short we fall rather than how far we’ve come because of what Christ did for us.

Are we living by faith in Christ, or by trying to live up to the demands and expectations of others?” (NIV footnotes for Galatians 4:15)

Freedom is found,Finding Joy

through Jesus alone;

not by good deeds,

as foundation stone.

Law shows us sin,

not God’s gift of grace;

to know true joy,

Christ we must embrace.

Let not the thief,

steal that which is yours;

the peace of God,

He freely outpours.

As we seek Christ,

we come to know joy;

where they once dwelled,

guilt and shame are destroyed.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we are set free from guilt and shame, and that You forgive us from our every sin as we come and confess before You.  Thank You that we are no longer bound by legalism that would dictate that we have to worship or pray or do things in a specific way in order to be heard by You.  Thank You that by Your grace, You made the way for us to come before You, freely, unencumbered, so that our joy may be complete in You.  Forgive us for thinking that joy has anything to do with our surrounding circumstances, and help us to remember that joy is that deep-rooted knowledge that You are with us and the hope that we have of a future secure in You.  May the joy within us be contagious, and be a cause of curiosity in those who do not yet know You.  Help us to love without limits, as You love us; and may many come into a saving relationship with You.  Be glorified as we go forth in joy.  Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – I Chronicles 16:31

Retaining Joy


Media, pop culture, and that which is widely accepted in today’s society, is a lure to legalism and a thief of joy.

This can hold true in two extremes. First, there are those who attempt to fit into the world to win the world, but alas, the draw of the world’s wooing becomes too much. On the other hand, those who shun the world and create a laundry list of “thou shall not’s”, have allowed their joy to be removed through a return to legalism. Neither option places the focus where it ought to be – on Christ.

The joy of our salvation stays present in struggles and sorrow when we hold fast to our faith in the Father. Christ does not use guilt to correct, but rather He shows us in love. Our Creator wants humility, not self-hatred. God is all about relationship, not performance. Our Father wants to show us how far we have come by the grace of His Son, not how short we have fallen.

Let not your joy,Be Holy
be taken away;
avoid the lures,
presented each day.
Don’t allow guilt,
to direct your path;
God guides in love,
turn away from wrath.
Look to relate,
to the Lord above;
not to perform,
freely He gives love.
Don’t dwell on faults,
or on past mistakes;
look to the cross,
and move on in faith.

(Responding to Galatians 4:8-20)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to have life in You. Thank You Jesus, for showing us how to love God and love people. Thank You for taking our place on the cross, so that we are now covered by Your grace. Thank You that we do not have to perform to be pleasing to You. Thank You that You love us, unconditionally, as sons and daughters – coheirs with Christ. Forgive us for falling for any form of legalism, as it attempts to steal the joy of our salvation, and help us to grow in our faith through Your glorious grace, so that we may more clearly reflect Your radiance as we hold steadfast to the security of the joy found in You alone. May many come to know You as the Lord of their life. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Enveloped in His Grace

Goaded by guilt,

image by Jason Sents

image by Jason Sents

stuck in shame’s scorn.

Life heavy laden,

legalism worn.

Stealer of joy,

producer of stress.

Life under the law,

will make such a mess.

Performance pointing,

keeper of score.

No satisfaction;

always doing more.

Christ came to show us,

not just where we lack;

but how He can save,

His grace brings us back.

He grants us freedom,

He carries our weight.

He forgives and loves,

never hesitates.

We may always choose,

do works or take grace.

On our own – empty;

in Him, safety’s space.

(Responding to Galatians 4:8-15)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that it is by Your great grace that we are saved, and not by what we do or do not do.  Forgive us for allowing guilt to guide us into thinking that we are not enough.  Help us to know and understand who we are in You, and may our faith in You and Your direction be what guides us in all that we say and do.  Teach us to hear Your heart for others, and Your voice, so that we know what it is that You are asking of each one of us.  May many come to know You as we walk in faithful obedience, bathed in Your glorious grace.  Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present