Scripture: Read Colossians 2:20-23 and 3:1-11.
Paul begins two key sentences with a strategic “If.” Obviously he is not implying doubt here; quite the opposite: He wants you to say, Oh yeah, I did die with Christ. I’m dead to what I used to be and do. Now I’m on an entirely new page, free from the law of sin and death, free from trying to earn God’s love, free from human precepts and teachings. In other words, he wants you to live into the beauty of your new life in Christ.
No doubt Paul’s first warnings about regulations referenced the Jews who hounded and threatened him, but even the Jewish community was not free from placating other spirits just like their neighbors.
Paul tangled with a Jewish false prophet who was a magician in Acts 13. You, for instance, may have a friend who faithfully reads his/her astrology charts; this would definitely fall under the category of a “self-made” religion.
Jesus was clear, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (Jn. 14:15). So how do we understand biblical obedience versus what Paul warns against? Legalism is the obeying of commands in order to earn favor or approval with God. It is the same as performance-based living, and it is something with which we all wrestle at times. It’s a trap. Fortunately the Holy Spirit nudges us back to full faith in Christ for His sufficiency.
Biblical obedience is based on faith/dependence upon Christ Himself for the ability to obey, and yes, it is the result of experiencing Christ’s love. We love Him because He first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19).
1. How have you wrestled with performance-based living? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
2. What are the symptoms that indicate you are slipping back into performance-based living?________________________________________________________________________________
3. What helps you most to live by faith in Jesus’ sufficiency rather than depending upon yourself?_________________________________________________________________________________
4. With whom do you discuss this type of topic?_____________________________________________
• Spend some moments praising Jesus Christ for earning your acceptance.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with an awareness of Christ living in you.
• By faith receive Christ’s peace and joy this morning.
• Pray for those God has placed in your life that they will taste Christ’s love.