Putting Off Legalism (and Apathy)

justiceIf shame had a face
I think it would kind of look like mine
If it had a home would it be my eyes?

Sometimes the culture war is merely a distraction away from greater spiritual warfares.

The enemy takes on many forms. There are even those times when our greatest foe is the person staring back at us. Ultimately our mirrors betray us.

I tried to climb your steps
I tried to chase you down
I tried to see how low I could get down to the ground

If we are not careful our desire for righteousness can lead to self reliance. Many are prone to embracing their cross and tackling the mountain on their own. This a recipe for failure. One which will most assuredly lead us into the mire.

I tried to earn my way
I tried to tame this mind
You better believe that I tried to beat this *

Woodrow Wilcox


How many have tried and ultimately taken a detour unto the road to apathy? A baseless, scriptureless antinomianism is the dangerous counter course that may result if we fail to get back on the true path of grace.

Thomas Boston’s criticism of Bunyan’s seemingly infallible allegory Pilgrim’s Progress..’put the putting off of the burden too far off from the commencing of the pilgrimage. If he meant to describe what usually happens, he is right. But if he meant to show what ought to have happened, he was wrong. The cross should be right in front of the wicket gate.’”



We are not saved by upholding the moral law but it is obviously still binding nonetheless. We are under no moral constraints but freely choose to refrain from sin and scandal.

What Christian is not mindful to refrain from lying, stealing and coveting?

Of course we are imperfect, but we will remain repentant and forgiven. The burden of sin is no longer ours to carry.

“The antinomian is by nature a person with a legalistic heart. He or she becomes an antinomian in reaction. But this implies only a different view of law, not a more biblical one.” – Sinclair Ferguson

Jesus is willing and able to carry all past, present and future burdens. Incessant prayer and a charitable spirit will sustain us through all the highs and lows of life in a fallen world upon which God’s light still shines.

“He does not love us if we love Him. He loves us with an unconditional love; therefore, we should love Him. The message of the covenant is one of God’s totally free grace to His people. Of course, it calls for a response of total commitment. But notice the order: God’s covenant love is not the result of our commitment; it is the cause of it. The pattern is, “I will, therefore you should;” not “I will, but only if you will first.” – Sinclair Ferguson

Discouragement can never reign supreme and in the day of judgement a legalist cannot stand. Whether we fight against grace or obedience we ultimately wrestle against God. It’s a battle we can’t win….

Maybe it’s time to simply give in.

* Lyrics by Lifehouse’s Jason Wade

See James 2 for further study, reflection, and consideration.

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A.J. Castellitto is a freelance writer who resides in NJ with his wife and five children. He holds a B.S. in Counseling and Human Services from the University of Scranton and his writings have been published at The Center for Western Journalism, The Christian Post, Intellectual Conservative and Reformed Perspective Magazine.
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  • CoyoteJohnKerr

    A.J., you hit the nail on the head! Another insightful and biblically accurate article. “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives that freedom…” James 5: 12.