Freedom from legalism sets you free into the ability to suffer and to really get some hard work done. When you’ve thrown off the fetters of a system of works, or style-control or how many times you enter the church doors a week or what you’re allowed to drink, it isn’t for the purpose of comfort and worldliness that you do so. And if you are still stuck in a place where you’re taught that very specific rules apply to your appearance and what you ingest, you will not be liked more by God because of it.
It is not grace vs. law when one decides “I don’t have to wear long skirts or dress conservatively anymore” or “I’ve been set free to go drinking with the girls and put on some skinnies.” (This is where I have to say that “drinking a glass of wine with dinner” isn’t wrong and wearing the latest fashion isn’t wrong.)
All I’m saying here, is that isn’t the point of the passages that address law vs. grace. It’s not grace to drink alcohol in the same way it isn’t law to wear long dresses. It is law to think you will work your rear off being good and thereby impress God. It is grace to say there is no righteousness of my own aside from my Savior who bought me with his blood. The best part of not being under the law is that the Law was completely fulfilled in Christ. Now we are under Christ. That is called grace. Grace sets us free into a new kind of slavery. We have not been set free for self-indulgence but for hard labor. We’ve switched masters. We are still slaves. We’ve thrown off the ball-and-chain of slavish rule-following, without pay. Now all that we do, all the hard labor we’ve been called to do, is worth something, because our debt is gone. Our new Master paid it.
I think the problem is distraction. For me, it would be fun to watch and laugh, if people weren’t going to hell. Churches heavy on grace are judging churches heavy on truth and vice versa, as if you can have one without the other. They are really distracted. Certain Christians don’t like to be judged so they can’t stand other Christians who have been offended by them. While you guys are doing that, there is an unknown woman in a village in Indonesia being first in the kingdom because she is faithfully slaving away, translating the word of God for people who need it in their language. There’s a guy in Spokane socking away every spare inch of his paycheck so he and his wife can adopt a forsaken child. And there’s a guy in Racine, Wisconsin who spends every Tuesday praying for seven hours, for the lost world, continent by continent.
I’m not telling you I do this well, I’m just wondering, if what we are so wholehearted arguing for, is worth anyone’s time. Clearly there is the hard work of Gospel propagation that needs to be happening and sacrificing that needs to be done for the winning of souls (slightly more important than whether or not you wear a dress on Sunday and refrain from wine or fighting for your right to seem a little more edgy) What if every hour of our fundamentally conservative or “ladies-night-out” lives, were spent in what really mattered? So, get your skinny jeans down on your knees and put some effort into begging God to save the lost (in countries where they have nothing), and haul that long skirted self of yours, to the cross of Christ and ask him, by his grace, to direct you to the nearest bar and win some souls. If we all did this, we’d see some awesome works in our time. And the world would see that Christ is grace AND truth.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
Col. 1: 5,6 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth.
Amy DeBurgh is the wife of her favorite preacher. She lives in the great state of Wisconsin with her husband and three big kids who are the joy and adventure of her life.