Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Freedom From Legalism

My own journey from legalism to a life of grace 
has been a long and arduous one.
  Naturally a controlling, critical type of woman,
I easily found my comfort in a legalistic lifestyle, 
working out my own righteousness in extra-biblical rules
(enslavements)
that allowed me to think too highly of myself
and look down my nose at those poor souls who were not willing
to live a more holy life, as I saw it. 
What this looked like was taking biblical principles 
and adding to them until I had a hard and fast rule to live by,
such as “dresses only.” 
The Bible clearly teaches that women should look like women and not men,
be feminine, and have a wholesome appearance,
being appropriately dressed. 
I noticed, when I was in an apple tree pruning,
that my denim jumper was not all that appropriate. 
This was also true tossing hay bales, riding the 4 wheeler or my horse,
or climbing bleachers in a gymnasium.
In Fact, in these cases, wearing a dress
made me more immodest than wearing pants. 
This presented me with quite a problem in my keeping
the “rules of righteousness” as I saw them.  
Then, I visited a friend from college whom I had not seen in 15 years. 
Imagine my shock when I discovered her children
to be the most respectful, obedient, kind children I had ever been around,
and it completely upset my legalistic world to find that
they were public schooled!!! 
The Lord used this experience much like  a 2x4 on the side of my head.  Something was wrong with my system of holiness. 
I was convicted about my sinful pride in assuming 
that I could follow a list of do’s and don’ts
and it would make me more Christ-like.  
This was all dashed to ruins as I considered my dear, sweet friend from college, a beautiful feminine woman, with a true gentle and quiet spirit who also wore….PANTS! 

Truly, the man looks at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Sam 16:7)

The truth of the matter is, God loves us so much that
WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS
Christ died for us. 
He couldn’t possibly love us more than he does at the cross,
and it doesn’t matter what we do, he will never love us more.  
The Bible tells us that God hates pride,
yet nowhere does it say that he hates women who wear pants. 

Jesus lived with grace to those he ministered to,
and he despised the Pharisees with their extra Biblical rules of holiness,
calling them white washed sepulchers. 
How I ever managed to overlook the mote in my eye,
I don’t know, but I am so grateful for that 2x4, 
for God’s cleansing power to forgive the pride in my life,
and for ridding me yet more and more each year of my critical spirit. 

It is humbling to realize that we are all a mess, 
with nothing of value to offer a holy God. 
It is pointless to try to dress up our pride with a pretty bow 
and offer it to God as a gift.  That is how I see living in legalism.

Now, we teach our daughters to be modest,
self controlled and wholesome in their appearance,
but more importantly,
that what God really values in a woman is the content of her heart;
kindness, meekness, gentleness and trust in Him.
  Now, to be sure, homeschooling is not, in and of itself, 
the path to godly children. 
Instead, living humble and teachable before your children, 
letting God be your Savior instead of a myriad of idols,
(such as self significance or family reputation),
gives far more promise for the next generation
than a list of do‘s and don‘ts. 
You can do that whether you homeschool, private school, or public school.
My husband adds:
” The advantage to homeschooling is your children
can see you LIVE with God all the time. 
That can be really good or really BAD… 
depending on your insistence on self-righteous law keeping
or living life in the presence of God and your children watching you
love Him and being loved in return… without all the list keeping.”

 Having said that, I mostly wear dresses and we homeschool.
 We do try to shelter our children until they reach a higher maturity level,
so they can stand in godly convictions in the world.
 We do endeavor to follow Phil 4 as a guideline
for everything that comes in our home.

However, we are free from having to follow a list of rules
to be pleasing to the Lord,
and are lavished by his grace as we seek to love Him
and live a cross centered, repentance oriented life.
  The bad attitudes of criticism and superiority fade in the distance
as we dropped the cloak of legalism
in exchange for the freedom  to be loved by God no matter what.

10 comments:

Valerie said...

Julianne...such a beautiful post. Thank you!

Michelle said...

This REALLY REALLY touched me today. Thank you so much!!

Theresa said...

Thanks for sharing that, Julianne. It is beautiful!

Faithful Mama said...

Hey girl! I'm no longer on facebook, but am still here in blogger world so..hello! :D
This is a great post! I think that I am figuring this out for myself SOMEWHAT. Slow and steady wins the race right?? lol I still find myself leaning to this legalistic attitude so many times, and it is SO hard to overcom when you have made it such a habit and such a part of life. I'm in prayer about this, and I know God will help me work it out. Thank you for the post as it is very encouraging, and I can use all the encouragement I can get! :) Blessings to your sweet family--Sara

Blessed at Home said...

I highly recommend an article here

http://homesteadlivinwithchrist.blogspot.com/2010/03/legalism-you-legalist.html

Mrs A said...

this is a powerful post! Thank you for sharing! Definately spoke to my heart!

Sons of Obedience said...

I'm not sure what you mean by legalism. If you refer to The Messiah's words to the Prushim, He referred to "their" Torah Matt 15 :8-9, the one they created. Nowhere did The Messiah put down the Torah He gave to Moses, as He said in Matt 5:18 Truly I say to you until heaven and earth pass away not one Yud or Hook will pass away till all is fulfilled in the Torah and the Prophets. Legalism is a word given by men to allow them to do the things they want to do(such as the prushim), But to be circumcised of the heart in obedience to the commandments of YHWH is proof that we love Him, as The Messiah said Jn 14:15 If you love me keep my commandments.
The path is The Torah, the destination is The Messiah who will give us to The Father. Shalom

Kelly said...

Thank you for sharing this. I have struggled with this issue lately as well. I believe the Lord lead me to your post today! Would you mind if I put a link on my Blog to your post?

Laura said...

Hello!
I just stopped over to visit from Plain Pam's blog...and I started reading some of your more recent posts...they are wonderful! This one especially touched me...it is a very thin line that we must walk carefully...on one side we are being obedient...on the other, we are being legalistic. Our prayer should always be "obedience." I've learned that when I keep my focus on the Lord...then I do what I do out of obedience. It is only when I take my focus off of Him, and place it on myself or what others think of me...that I fall into the "legalism" trap. Thank you for sharing what is on your heart...I will be back to visit again!

Have a blessed week,
Laura

Julie said...

I just came across your blog, and have very much enjoyed it. I was raised in a legalistic home and church environment. While I can easily detect legalism in others, I often overlook it in my own heart. Your blog reminded me of my own pride, self-righteousness and critical spirit. "It is pointless to try to dress up our pride with a pretty bow and offer it to God as a gift." I loved your word picture! Thank you.