Conviction vs. Legalism

by autumn on November 2, 2010 · 3 comments

The line between conviction and legalism is so very fine. It’s one that is easily crossed unless you are constantly aware of your comments, facial expressions and how you teach your children.

Convictions are a good thing. God will lead one family down a road that He ordains and how that family responds to the chosen path will set in motion dozens of other components.

For example, in 2004, God convicted us to homeschool our children. We didn’t yet have school aged children but we knew this is the path God wanted us on. We went through a number of different emotions and reactions to this plan. My emotions went like this:

Sounds Great!

I can’t do that.

I don’t want to do that. I want to bake cookies and clean the house while the kids are in school.

You’re right, it is what we will do but I’m not sure I’m liking it.

We’re doing this because it’s the best thing (said with much arrogance) to do and if I know someone who isn’t homeschooling I’m going to think less of them.

Homeschooling is a part of my life, like making meals and showering (ok, so it happens more frequently than that).

God has blessed me with the ability to homeschool and the perserverance to make it through every day. I see many problems in other education choices but I no longer think less of someone for making a different decision.

This is absolutely not what God wants from His children (the thinking you’re better than them part).

You should be FIRM in your convictions. You should know without a doubt that you are doing the best thing for your family. But, don’t lord it over someone and certainly never say that they aren’t a Christian because they don’t homeschool (or drink or wear skirts or say no to debt, etc…). This is legalism.

This is what causes division within a church. This does not glorify God.

And just in case you are thinking I’ve fallen into the crowd that overuses “Christian Liberty”, let me assure you I haven’t. John MacArthur wrote an excellent article entitled “What is Christian Liberty?” Take a few minutes to scan the article and scroll down to Section II (What Christian Liberty Is Not). The article uses Galatians 5: 13-16 as a guide.

MacArthur states, “A Christian wasn’t set free in Christ to do whatever he wants. Some people wrongly think that because of the eternal security of the believer, they are free to do anything they want.  No.  Christian liberty is not liberty to indulge the flesh.  If you’re saved, you won’t indulge your flesh because of the sin-restraining presence of the Holy Spirit inside you.”

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1 Lisa~ November 2, 2010 at 8:30 p

Great post! I often am accused of being “legalistic” because I live my convictions. It always irks me because I in no way think these convictions are about salvation, which is the definition of legalism. I know that my life is richer and I am becoming more like Christ because I obey His call. Not because I wear dresses, but because I do what it is I believe He is calling me to do.

I so often see people that make other choices and that is fine with me, as long as they are not justifying their actions that are rooted in sin. So many people are afraid to live what they know to be true through the Holy Spirit. Thanks! Lisa~
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2 Grateful for Grace November 3, 2010 at 8:30 p

Good post! There is a difference between judging and legalism, though people don’t often like to admit this. Christ calls us to judge someone’s action, but He calls us away from legalism. Like you said, it’s a fine line and I often step over without realizing.

Living out convictions is important as is obedience. I see so many people excusing sin or neglecting God’s best by calling it freedom, that I get frustrated. Sadly, that’s when I step over the line. God is working on this in me, but I am guilty of this more often than I wish. I only see black and white and it’s very, very difficult for me to see any gray. My testimony is weakened through this so I am grateful God is working on it.

I grow wearing of the struggle and long for the day when sin will be over. For others, but mostly for myself.
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3 Lisa November 16, 2010 at 8:30 p

Great post, thoughts to live but it’s to bad not everyone does.

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