C.S. Lewis once wrote, “You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”
take a second to let that sink in
we are Souls cloaked in skin & bone, flesh and blood.
not sure about you but this isn’t how i live & think. much more prone to pay mind to the external, not excluding the sun kissed spots & fine lines mapping their course to middle aged life.
i have been challenged by what it means to keep careful watch over my own heart & soul. the Psalmist repeatedly spoke of his soul being pursued by enemies, downcast and then restored. trusting Him as the Keeper of my soul, i still have responsibility in it’s condition.
i can either nurture or ruin, protect or assault.
many things wage war against my soul: comparison, perfectionism, jealousy, self-promotion, approval addiction, toxic relationships …all having the potential to deeply affect my fundamental identity.
one of the greatest of these is a a dirty little word.
embraced by men but rejected by Christ
i see so much of myself in matthew 23
Woe to me
They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger… they do all their deeds to be noticed by men…They love the place of honor…But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in….You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering?..Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of self-indulgence….You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
like i said, Woe to me
Woe to us
legalism concerns itself with the external versus the internal, ruining the soul.
as tim kimmell, author of this race-to-the-store-&-buy-one-today book, Grace Based Parenting, writes
legalistic patterns emphasize the SYMBOLS of christian behavior over the SUBSTANCE of christian living. it grants more power & influence to the external forces of the world system than it does to the internal power & presence of God.
white washed tombs …full of dead bones
legalism crawls onto our pews & into our hearts. it seduces us to hide our frailties from one another, to refrain from vulnerability because we all know that “good christians” have it all together.
good christians have perfect marriages & well behaved children. good christians read their bibles everyday. good christians follow the standards of righteousness.
woe to us who shut off the kingdom of God from people with our good christian antics.
if only the world knew there was no such thing
legalism perverts the gospel. it says His work is unfinished. that i must earn His love & acceptance by being more, doing more, giving more, attending more, sacrificing more. it believes the lie that His grace is not sufficient. not for me & certainly not for others.
Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ's death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? galatians 3:1-3
even for us who believe, who claim salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone …how quickly we gravitate toward being perfected by “good” works, crippled by that very first lie… we must be unloved by God.
the true gospel is this…
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
i am not, could not, will not ever be good enough. i will never reach the end of my growing list of arbitrary standards.
only the finished work of the cross declares me righteous, fully accepted, purchased by His blood, forgiven of all sin… according to the riches of His grace, that He has freely lavished on me.
any other belief, no matter how well disguised results in fear, failure, pride, judgment, estrangement, spiritual death.
legalism ruins the soul.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
may our hope be built on nothing less.