It is an encouraging time for Christians. God is raising up more and more younger Christians that are seeking the Bible alone for their answers. More are zealous in promoting the fact that we contribute nothing to salvation, but that faith is a gift of God, not a result of works, and the perfect sacrifice has been made once for all in the obedience of the Son. Unfortunately, at the same time, these zealous Christians find themselves at a dead end. They roam about between salvation and this dead end and call this containment their “freedom in Christ.” This “freedom” they define as all they are now free to do, because Christ has done all that they couldn’t. Any rule or instruction that they may be commanded to follow, they vehemently reject in the name of legalism or “works.” As to how they should now live, they are to just love God and love their neighbor. Jesus kept it easy for them. He didn’t want them to specifically “do anything.”
Yet imagine at this dead end there is a path leading over it with instructions as to how to navigate. The instructions give them words on how to love their neighbor and how to love God. It also gives them one day to rest out of seven on their journey ahead. It tells each to give a percentage of their increase to fund the journey. It tells them of the curses of straying from the path and the blessings of keeping the “rules.” However, this group grumbles at these instructions. Why are they being told to do something again? Has not Christ done it all? How dare there be instructions! Better yet, how dare they be commanded to do anything but love? So they take the path, not with the instructions, but with zeal and their “freedom” to guide them.
Why is it that many modern Christians enthusiastically reject the idea of being commanded to do something. It raises a flag of caution. They want to assure that they do not add anything to the work Christ has done (a good caution to have).
If one then comes along and mentions that they honor the Lord’s Day by resting and refraining from their own pleasures (Isa. 58:13) it is deemed legalism! If one mentions that the tithe is still commanded of Christians, it is legalism! If one mentions that he refrains from watching the Game of Thrones because of God’s call to holiness, it is legalism! Why? Because it is assumed one is trying to gain something or impose something and it imposes on one’s “freedom in Christ.”
But it is not legalism. Because something is commanded it does not mean that a burden is paced. That is a faulty and unbiblical view. This side of Christ, commands are not burdens but delights. If we are still commanded to tithe, why do we immediately think that something is being imposed on us? If I say, regarding 50 Shades of Grey, ‘As for me and my household we will serve the Lord’ by not having anything to do it, someone immediately thinks I am imposing a burden on them. I am not. God has called us to holiness (1 Thes. 4), and has asked us to delight in that.
His commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). When God asks something of us, we do not have the “freedom in Christ” to ignore it or make it a suggestion and we should not make this freedom an excuse for disobedience.
“The Gospel does not abrogate God’s law, but it makes men love it with all of their hearts” ( J. Gresham Machen)