Pharisee vs. Spiritual Man

I had a difficult time giving this post a name that didn’t sound extremely proud! I really am not coming with an arrogant spirit, but I loved what I read yesterday in Jerry Bridges’ Transforming Grace. His main point in his chapter was about standing firm in our freedom. That, if you have been reading any of my recent posts, goes along nicely with what God has been teaching me! But it was another point that he made that got my attention.

When standing firm for our freedom, one of the main things that we have to battle is legalism. I think that every Christian has battled legalism both as the giver and the recipient. I know that I find myself most often on the giving side of legalism, but I have certainly received the comments and looks of another pressing his/her laws upon me. How I hate the pride, the self-righteousness of a legalistic spirit! It is ugly! The judging thoughts, the manipulative comments, the criticism to others (usually my husband). Lord, forgive me for such unholy thoughts and behavior!!! And legalism is so painful for the recipient. If only we could see ourselves and others as God sees us. Then, in those moments, we would not rise up with spiritual pride, but would humbly rejoice in the work He is doing!

But I digress! The point that I found so interesting last night was in regard to how legalism arises. It begins when we build a fence. What does a fence do? It protects. We build a fence to protect us from sinning. But when we equate my fence with God’s commandments (or weigh it as more important), then it becomes legalism. And sadly I have done this — many times!  As Bridges put it,

That is the way a lot of manmade “dos and don’ts” originate. They begin as a sincere effort to deal with real sin issues. But very often we begin to focus on the fence we’ve built instead of the sin it was designed to guard against. We fight our battles in the wrong places; we deal with externals instead of the heart.

p. 148

So, build your fences! Protect yourself from sin. And I will continue to build mine. But as we seek to live a life pleasing to God, may we all remember that we are on this journey together! Some of us have just begun and others have been walking a long time. God isn’t finished with any of us, yet! I pray that we will humbly continue to spurn one another on to faith and good works. Here’s one last thought to consider (and where I got the title!):

A pharisee is hard on others and easy on himself, but a spiritual man is easy on others and hard on himself.

A.W. Tozer

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