Sensuality and Legalism

When living the Christian life we are faced with a narrow road and two ditches, sensuality and legalism. Sensuality is characterized by doing whatever we want to do. It is living for whatever makes us happy in the here and now. There is no forethought to what the long-term implications are, but only rationalization of our actions for maximizing pleasure immediately. Legalism puts rules and personal righteousness above concern for others. It promotes uncompromising confidence in ones own views and leaves no room for the possibility of being wrong.

The fate of those who crash their lives into these ditches are the same. The sensuous, "everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (Eph. 5:5)." Likewise, the legalistic, "you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in (Matt 23:13)." Being a Christian is more than a title, it is being a follower of Jesus Christ. It means that we live with the same holiness and grace that He did,  not on our own strength, but with the Help that He gives us. Condemnation comes to those who live contrary to the life of Jesus Christ, even though they claim otherwise.

It seems that very few people analyze their own lives to see were they stand. Paul says to us "examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? - unless indeed you fail to meet the test (2 Corinthians 13:5)!" We need to be vigilant that we are driving down the road and not careening into ditches. Sensuality can be avoided by keeping a good conscience, since our conscience bears witness (Rom. 2:15). Legalism can be avoided by not neglecting "the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. (Matt. 23:23)" Unfortunately in both of these situations pride is the sun in your eyes that blinds you to your own actions.

Judging is not a popular subject but it is an integral part to Christianity. Not not only should we judge ourselves, as we just saw, but we should also judge others. Judging is different then condemnation. Nobody knows the heart of someone else and so we are not called to make judgments on it, however, we are always told to judge someone by their fruit. "You will recognize them by their fruits (Matt 7:20)" If someone is living a life contrary to scripture we should tell them for their own sake, but we need to be careful that we are doing it out of right motives. Telling someone they are wrong is not very helpful unless your desire is to see them change for their own good.

Although the legalistic cannot admit they are wrong, the sensuous cannot admit anybody is right.The cry often rings out, "don't judge me, your are not perfect either!" Paul in his writing rebuked both types of behavior (1 Cor 5, Gal 2:11), even the Apostle Peter, and so should we. 

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