Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Greatest Post-Legalism Danger

"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, 
and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy..."
Jude 1:24
(KJV)

Post #2 in the Legalism Series.



It turns out the last post called "The Binding Stronghold of Legalism
hit a raw nerve with more than one of you precious readers.

I wasn't sure when I put it out there whether anyone would even understand where I was coming from.
I anguished over hitting the "publish" button, for various reasons, 
the main one being, I do not EVER want to write something out of the wrong motivation 
or out of a spirit of revenge, strife, bitterness, or contention.  
God knows how long I sometimes wait before I ever publish something I've written.
I want my motives to be pure and holy and Holy Spirit-driven...
never out of a carnal need to just say what I want to say.
I am not here to waste God's....or your....time.

Dear, precious Lord, help me!
I don't realize how far-reaching words can go or where they can end up.
But, He does.
He knows.
He sees every heart...everywhere.

After hearing back from those who requested a sequel and a deeper delving into this,
I am writing now...under the influence and in complete submission to the precious Holy Spirit.
May God help me only say what He wants said.

I believe with all my heart that legalism needs to be exposed for the ugly, oppressive monster it really is.
I think, even though I poured my heart and soul into writing it,
 I only skimmed the surface in the last post.
Because the magnitude and enormity of the effects and influence of legalism 
can probably never be fully measured.
Are there even any limits to the damage it can do?

Standing here, where we do, after being miraculously delivered and set free from the binding yoke
we operated under for so many years,
I can see so many things that I didn't even notice before.
Deception of satan is very powerful, no matter what form or facade he chooses to use.
When we are deceived, we don't know or realize we are deceived...
that is the scary part.
To think we can feel like we are SO right, and be SO dead-wrong.  
I didn't have a clue, until God took the blinders off and revealed the truth for what it is.
Now, I look back and wonder how I could have been so foolish and so easily-swayed to the wrong.

Today, I feel a burden to express a warning to anyone who has been delivered from legalism.
I say this, because I have walked where you now walk, 
and though the air is light and free from oppression,
and though the sky is blue and free from clouds,
and though it is so much easier to take a step without that heavy, dreaded ball and chain attached,
and though your back is straight and trying to acclimate itself to not carrying that heavy baggage anymore,
and though you can't seem to wipe the smile off your face as you relish this newly-discovered, sweet taste of freedom....
let me just say one word to you, my friend.
Beware!!!
NOT that I am trying to throw a wet blanket over your sunny days.
Believe me, I am happy for you.
I couldn't possibly be happier.
I rejoice with you in this new found victory and freedom in Jesus.
Trust me.

But, please hear me out.
Please listen, because I want you to stay this way.
I want you to keep reveling in this wonderful, precious, life-giving thing called GRACE.
I want you to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has set you free,
and I do NOT want you to become entangled again...ever....in any way...with the yoke of bondage.
Galatians 5:1

As you walk...your steps feather-light, skipping along, care-free and bliss-filled,
let me warn you that there is a very slippery slope located right next to your peace-drenched path.
You may not see it...so blinded are you, by the brightness of the sun shining
 into your long-accustomed-to-dreary-darkness eyes.
But, the slope is there.
Right now, you walk a balanced path.
A path that is dictated and directed by the One Who died for you.
A path where His voice is ALL you hear...
where all other voices are shut out, because you are so in love with Him,
that nothing or no one else matters.
A path where there is no longer a middle man...separating you from Him
and interfering with your relationship and His guidance.
He is so near.
So dear.
And to know that He is the One Who has set you completely free 
makes you love Him more than you have ever loved Him in your life.  

So, how could you be in any danger, you ask?
Why am I raining on your sunny parade?
How can I speak of things like danger...and peril....and jeopardy?
How can I even mention anything as undesirable as a fall from this new found plane of glory?
I'll tell you how I can mention it...
I speak of it, because I see it...so clearly...
and I don't want you to become a victim.
I don't want you to fall from where God has elevated you.
I want you to maintain and go straight on, 
never veering to the right or to the left. 
I want you to succeed and stay on this level, even-keeled path called BALANCE.

As Zachary often tells me, "Mama, I'm going to give it to you straight"...
here I go.
Please don't hate the messenger, and know that I only warn you because I care so much.

On this newly-delivered, freshly-liberated-from-legalism path,
you walk the finest line, my friend.
You walk upon a high, elevated road.
It is extremely narrow.
The width is no wider than the width of one of your feet....
just barely enough room for you to put one foot in the front of the other,
as you walk, or should I say, skip, happily along.
On each side of you lies a deep precipice.
Just one, even slightly off-center step has the potential to start a never-ending downward spiral...
in either undesirable direction.

Both the right and the left precipice have a name.
The one on the right side is called fanaticism.
This one will lead you straight back to the pit from which you were just delivered.
It screams that you should be doing more, pushing harder, adhering to man-made codes and rulebooks,
and that there is something wrong with you....
otherwise you wouldn't be enjoying your salvation so much.
Now, you have already gone this route.
You've already lived enslaved within the dungeon that lies at the bottom of this deep ravine.
You know, from pain-filled experience that you never want to go back there....ever, ever, ever again.
Just the slightest memory or recollection of it sends you into a panic-stricken terror.

Herein lies this hidden, sneaky danger of which I warn you, my dear friend.
To keep yourself from ever, ever, ever falling back into that bottomless pit,
you will feel the overpowering, overwhelming urge to lean towards the opposite side of this spectrum.
You know...the precipice that lies dangerously near on the left side of your joy-filled path.
Its name is as ugly as its opposite.
Its name is compromise.

I warn you that it will woo you.
You...in this newly-emancipated state.
Oh, it thrives on people like you!
It sees you as a likely and willing recruit.
After all, you are bound and determined to never slide down the right side on fanaticism's slippery slope.
So, in order to avoid it, you have a tendency to lower each footstep as close as possible to compromise
just to ensure you never slip in fanaticism's direction.
And besides, compromise feels like such a welcome reprieve from 
the stringent, whip-lashed path from which you were just delivered.
Compromise feels good.
It is easy.
There is no effort involved...at all.
It is like floating...downstream...with the current...wherever it leads.
Why, it even seems easier than to stay on this bright, sunshiny path you now walk.
Because, after all, it takes quite the effort to stay balanced.
My, it is so narrow!
And it would be effortless to just kind of ease off the edge...there to the left...
and allow yourself to rest in its shade.
After all, everyone else seems to be doing it.
Why, you see people everywhere...as you peek over the edge to the left.
They are on varying levels of this slippery slope.
Some are still clinging...holding on for dear life to Balance's path...near the top.
Some have slid farther, but are still casting a wistful eye backwards towards the top.
All at once, you spot one of these souls, in particular.
Something about his face strikes you, and you find your eyes powerless to look away from him.
Isn't that regret you discern?
A longing to be back up here...where you are?
Like maybe he realizes from whence he has fallen, but the thought of climbing back seems too daunting...
so he is contemplating staying there...right where he is?
But, alas!
As you keep your gaze fixed on him, you find that a scream rises in your throat...
a warning that compels you to call to him.
For you realize that, unbeknownst to him, 
someone is falling at break-neck speed...spiraling right towards him,
and they will inevitably pull him downward, as they pass, if you don't warn him to move out of the way.
As your voice rises, you realize it is in vain, 
for impact has been made and the poor fellow's desperate attempt to hold on has been thwarted,
because the tide downward is just too strong.
The influence is just too powerful...
so he slides, helplessly several feet, landing on a rock much closer to the bottom...
out of your view, never to be seen by you again.
A tear comes to your eye, as you realize what just happened.
The image of his eyes...yearning to be back where you are....
remorseful that he ever left the path...
it haunts you, and it will not go away.

All of a sudden, it hits you...that to ease off the edge...there to the left...
and allow yourself to rest in its shade would be a risky proposition.
Because, no matter how lofty your intentions and determination to not drift too far off-course, 
the continual onslaught of traffic flowing and veering in that direction seems endless
and the danger of being knocked downward by one of them in their swift pursuit to reach the bottom
may just be too big of a gamble for you to take.

So, what to do?

My advice?
Stay where you are, my friend.
On solid ground...no matter how narrow.
Keep your feet on a steady path...straight as an arrow.
Don't take any chances.
After all, you hold in your hands, that part of you that will live forever.
What if you lose control and drop it...sliding down that slippery slope?
Believe me, this is what satan hopes for.
He is quick to take the control you lose.

Don't give in to compromise...not even one, little inch.
Don't be overcome by the temptation of its ease.
Don't lean into its shade...not even for an instant.
Do whatever you must to stay on the narrow path where the the sun shines.
I know it takes effort.
I realize how hard it can be to stay balanced....I'm right there with you.
But, we must.

Do you see the danger?
Of both precipices?

When you are newly-delivered from legalism,
the natural alternative satan is going to offer you is compromise.
He wants your soul.
It matters not to him how he lands you in Hell,
just so he gets you there.
Both slippery slopes...the right and the left....ultimately lead to the same, disastrous, hopeless end.

Coming out of legalism leaves you extremely and dangerously vulnerable.
Because of this natural tendency to RELAX.
To let down your guard.
To run as far from fanaticism and a legalistic mindset as you can and leave it all behind.

I get that.
I understand it....more than you know.
I grasp the concept that legalism is a place you never want to revisit.

But, be careful.
Because you do not want to veer too far in the opposite direction 
where anything and everything goes 
and where nothing is called sin.

True, Biblically-defined sin has nothing in the world to do with legalistic demands inflicted by men.

Biblically-defined sin is still and will always be....sin.
God's Word is the ultimate authority,
and it is what you and I will be judged by on that last, great day.

When coming out of legalism, there is this urge to throw away all rules,
not just the man-made ones, along with their humanly-contrived traditions,
but to even reject the Biblical doctrines put in place by God Himself.
To run free....and care-free.
To buy into the concept that because of grace, 
there are no boundaries.

This is SO detrimental and dangerous!
Because I have personally walked this path of deliverance, 
I know, firsthand, how serious this is and how real and strong the temptation is to head the opposite direction.
I am so aware of the jeopardy that is unique to coming out of legalism,
because the Holy Spirit has been very faithful to my soul and the Lord is continually opening my eyes to the traps and snares that are prevalent and frequent on this path.

God will keep us, if we truly want to be kept.

As vehement as satan's desire is to land us in Hell, 
God's desire to see us through to Heaven is far more powerful and intense.
He is not willing that any should perish, but that all of us should inherit an eternity with Him.
This is why He paid such a heavy price to redeem us and to offer us the free gift of grace.

G -  God's 
R -  Riches
A -         At
C - Christ's 
E - Expense

The Apostle Paul addressed this SO clearly in the 5th & 6th chapters of Romans.
This man had the concept of grace so down-pat.
I wish I could understand it like he did!
How blessed we are to have his writings to guide us and to open our eyes to the truth.

Read this....

"But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
That as sin hath reigned unto death, 
even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?"
Romans 5:20-21; 6:1-2
(Emphasis added)

Grace is not a free ticket to go hog-wild, throw all caution to the wind, and live anyway we want to live.
Grace is not there to excuse sin, 
but to empower & enable us to say no to it.
Grace was ushered in when Jesus came, not to destroy the law,
but to fulfill it.
When He made the sacrifice of Himself on the cross to purchase our redemption,
it was the ultimate atonement for all time.
When He said, it is finished, He meant that every part of salvation's plan was complete.
Everything had been done to satisfy God's requirement for the sacrifice for our sins
and to offer us the ultimate gift of forgiveness and the unmerited, unearned favor of God, called grace.
Praise God!

Applying that grace to our everyday lives gives us the victory over sin
and gives us the strength to refuse to live under its dominion.
Grace conditions us to stay balanced.

Grace does not hand us a license and permission to slide down the slipper slope of compromise,
but it infuses the strength within us to never set foot in its direction to begin with.

And if we do falter and slip and fall over the ledge landing us in a slippery place,
the arm of grace is far-reaching enough to pull us back to the balanced, narrow way.

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. 
And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
I John 2:1-2

Isn't this wonderful news?
Can you tell I am excited about grace?
After living for Jesus for 37 years,
going to church umpteen times a week for most of my growing up years and many of the years since then, 
I feel like I have only recently begun to even know what grace is...at all.
My view of God's grace has been horrifically distorted and twisted to the point of near hopelessness,
due largely to continual blows from the merciless, dogmatic, ruthless whip of legalism and its unattainable demands.


But, the light of God's grace has pierced through the blackness!

I am now beginning to see!
I have sung "Amazing Grace" for years, and I have cherished it dearly,
but only recently have I really grasped its depths.


"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!

That saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost, but now I'm found,
Was blind, but now I see!"


I can hardly sing this old, familiar, often-sung hymn now without the shedding of tears.

It is so real and precious to my soul.


So, I write this post with the heaviness of needing to warn about the lurking dangers

that surround the coming out of legalism and a fanatical mindset,
and I write this post with the joy of first-hand 2 Corinthians 12:9 realization
that God's grace is sufficient in all circumstances,
and that the weaker we are, the more His strength is perfected.


God can keep you on a balanced path. 
He can, and He will.
His grace will sufficiently enable you to keep from veering to the left's miry clay or to the right's bondage.

Stay close to Him.
Stay right in the middle of the narrow way...
not too close to the edge...on either side.



If video doesn't load, click here.

God will make your path clear.
His light will shine in front of you, and He will keep you from falling...if you want to be kept.

"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, 
and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 
To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."
Jude 1:24-25



(To read Post #1 in this series, entitled "The Binding Stronghold of Legalism", click here.)

26 comments:

  1. Hi Cheryl, I am glad you followed up with this post (from your last one on legalism). I have seen many recover from legalism only to let the pendulum swing in the opposite direction (which sadly abuses the grace spoken of in Titus 2). It is a very narrow path as you have said and we can fall away to either side. Thank you for sharing the other end (which you called compromise) since that is rarely spoken of these days. Very well balanced and biblical....

    "For the GRACE of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world..." Titus 2:11-12

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    1. Wow, JES! I LOVED your words and loved the Scripture your shared. How wonderfully appropriate to the burden that lies heavy upon my heart! It is so sweet to walk this Christian journey with you as a faithful supporter, encourager, and kindred spirit. God bless you, my dear friend, and may He help us to keep the faith that was once delivered to the saints.

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    2. Thanks for sharing this one! You know I appreciate the content here!

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    3. Thank you, JES! I so appreciate your support and encouragement and the weekly link-up! God bless you, my friend. :)

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  2. Powerful post, Cheryl. There's a really great sermon in here! Yes, the enemy of our souls would have us swing to either side of any spectrum in life. He knows the balance required to walk the narrow path, and he wants us to *cop out* to an easier way. I remember something C.S. Lewis said - something to the effect that the opposite of good isn't evil - it's twisted good. And this seems to me where the devil works his wiliest ways. Take something good that God gives - financial blessing, love, freedom, etc - and twist it *just a little bit* until we're off and slipping down that slope!!

    May God give us discernment and strength to walk in His ways!

    GOD BLESS!

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    1. Yes, dear Lord, help us, and give us Holy Spirit discernment! We need it so much, especially in these vulnerable places. I loved the quote of C.S. Lewis you spoke of...how very true. I so appreciate you stopping by and your edifying comments. I am always so blessed by your visits. Much love to you!

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  3. Grace is such a wonderful gift! It's so humbling to know that God has redeemed us and no laws/requirements/legalistic systems are needed. All that's needed is our trust in God!

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    1. You are so right, Susannah! How blessed that we now live under grace! It becomes more precious and amazing to me every, single day. I hope you are doing well. It was so good to see you here today! God bless you!

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  4. I just love reading your words Cheryl. It is like that my heart is being warmed my the Holy Spirit. Thanks for God's words through you. God's wisdom flows through you naturally and it leads me to the higher ground. God bless you more and keep on sharing.

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    1. Oh, Joy! Your words are so dear to my heart. You encourage and bless me every time you stop by. May the dear Lord bless you richly and keep you in His care. Lots of love to you, sweet friend. :)

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  5. Wow. That's passion! I too lived a good part of my life in legalism; the enemy's biggest tool. It is repulsive to think any of us are more than another because of that unmerited favor called grace that is provided by our Father. We tend to compromise when we begin to justify the desires of our heart, instead of searching for the will of our Father's. A good and needed reminder, Cheryl.

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    1. You are so right, Floyd. I am so sorry you dealt with this monster for so many years. I wonder just how many are now still entrapped within its clutches? God is so good to have set us free, and I know His desire is that no one walks around in this awful, miserable state. So thankful you stopped by today...God bless you and keep you in His care.

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  6. Beautiful post as always. Love ya sweet lady!
    Chris

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    1. Love you, too, sweet sister! :) God bless you for stopping by.

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  7. Beautiful Post! BTW LOVE all of the video's on your side panel! <3

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and for leaving sweet encouragement behind. So happy you enjoyed the songs! They bless me so much. :)

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  8. The key is balance. Then to study God's Word for yourself and not man made rules. I enjoyed both articles and you have given good information and great examples. Thank you for sharing your lovely post with us here at “Tell Me a Story.” At: http://letmetelluastory.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thank you, Hazel! So grateful for your visit. God bless you!

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving encouragement behind! So happy to meet you. :)

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  10. Cheryl, somehow I missed this when you first posted it. These are such wise words. Thanks for posting and for all your prayers!

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    1. Thanks so much, Lisa! So happy you stopped by. I am praying and hoping for GREAT results for you, dear friend. God bless you. :)

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  11. I am so thankful for my freedom in Christ and freedom from legalism. The temptation now is for me to be judgmental of those still trapped in legalism. :( It's a danger I have to guard against. Relying on God and his grace always!

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    1. Oh, my! This is an EXCELLENT point. God help us not to do this. YES, I can see exactly where you are coming from, and I need to guard against this, also. Thank you so much for stopping by and adding that edifying insight...so thankful for your visit. :)

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  12. Hi, it’s Tiffany, stopping by from My Salt, His Light (www.mysalthislight.wordpress.com). We are neighbors at this week’s 3-D Lessons For Life/Thought-Provoking Thursday. Stopping by to show some love, you have gained a new follower! Awesome, awesome post! What a great reminder on true grace, and a cautionary tale of the dangers of compromise. Well done Sister! :-)

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    1. Oh, Tiffany! Thank you so much for stopping by, for following, and for leaving such sweet, dear comments behind! I am so happy to meet you! I will come over to your place for a visit now. So thankful for God allowing our paths to cross. God bless you, dear sister! :)

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