Legalism and lawlessness two opposing yet equally great evils
May God save us from both of these.
Legalism is where one lives by laws (often man made and often tedious) which one forces on oneself and others. A typical example of legalists were the Pharisees in the Lord Jesus’ time. Their laws even condemned the Lord Jesus for healing someone on the Sabbath. Such laws bring death and not life.
Matthew 23:23-24 NIV
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”
Legalism can also be when we try to be saved by our own efforts. A works based religion.
Lawlessness on the other hand is just doing what one wants. One is lead by ones feelings and lusts. One does everything that the people of the world do.
Titus 2:11-12 NIV
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…”
Legalism and lawlessness are like falling off either to the left or the right of the narrow road.
How should we then live? We should be lead by the spirit of God.
Romans 8:14 NIV
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”
The spirit of God will lead us into love, mercy, purity, modesty, self control etc. It will make us to be like the Lord Jesus. The beauty of Jesus will be seen in us.
Both legalism and lawlessness break the heart of God.