The Harsh Rule of Legalism vs. The Grace of God

Ezekiel 34:2b, 4b
…Woe be to the shepherds…with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.

These are stout words of rebuke which our Lord had spoken against the shepherds of Israel in Ezekiel’s day. Though this is an historical event which happened a long time ago, I see a striking resemblance between our selected text, and what goes on in the religious world today, specifically in camps of legalism. I dare say that verses 1-4 are as clear a description of legalism as any text in scripture. Read verse 4 alone: “The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.”

I personally do not know of a more forceful and cruel religious philosophy than that of legalism. It is propagated in the spirit of the letter, which only brings death. I am sad to admit that many of God’s sheep are bleeding to death because they have been scorned when they should have been comforted, ex-communicated from the fellowship when they should have been restored, or condemned when they should have been forgiven.

My heart goes out to those who have fallen victim to this type of spiritual tyranny. Legalism goes against everything that the grace of God stands for. Legalism and Grace cannot co-exist. To truly understand Grace is to know that there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (see Romans 8:1). Grace obviously does not give you a license to sin, but it does loose you from sin’s grip and its condemnation.

For one to continue to live as if he has been sentenced to death even though he has been liberated and set free is to miss the whole point of Calvary. Romans 8:33 says, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.”

Friend, if you have been saved by God’s grace, do not allow yourself, the devil, the brethren, or anyone else place condemnation upon you anymore. You are FREE! Free to overcome, free to live, and free to serve God. You are accepted in the beloved because of Christ’s righteousness and His righteousness alone. It is not of works, lest any man should boast. We now serve God, not to gain approval, but simply to praise His name. Enjoy your freedom!

~ Pastor Gary Caudill
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