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We Do NOT Balance Licence and Legalism

Here's the poem I wrote last week performed:

Let me explain some of my thinking...

In the first kingdom everything is framed in transactional terms. There is a reward for the girl and, naturally, people want to talk about the terms and conditions. So there is a battle between legalism and licence: give the girl too much and she'll spend it on prodigal living. Impose too many terms and she's little more than a slave.

And so a debate ensues. One side may want the goodies given freely, no strings attached. The other side wants the girl to prove how serious she is about royal living.

These debates can get tiresome. But the worst development of all is the person who stands up claiming to have discovered the optimal payment structure - not too strict, not too liberal. These sanctification Goldilockses are just right - balancing license and legalism with their perfectly measured pastoral pronouncements.

But the answer is NOT to balance licence and legalism. The solution to this problem does not lie in between these errors. We need to come out of this transactional kingdom and enter the realm of gracious union. If we miss union with Christ, we miss everything, and we will be doomed to ping-pong back and forth between "grace" and "holiness" - as though those things were extremes to be avoided!

In Christ's kingdom, He marries His wicked bride - freely giving her His righteousness, graciously taking on Himself her sins. She offers Him nothing. He gives her everything.

And in that utterly gracious union, she finds herself both captive and crowned. She has a new Lord forevermore. And she has new freedoms she could never have imagined. Both. At the same time.

The bride now has everything - but not apart from her Lord. In her Lord she is free and she's possessed. In her Lord she is freely forgiven and given a new life. In her Lord, she is loved in spite of all sin and she's claimed for royal living.

If you take your eyes off your gracious Lord, you might celebrate the security of your wedding ring - surrounding you no matter what your behaviour. On the other hand, you might emphasize the seriousness of your wedding vows - binding upon you at all times. But neither focus is the Scriptural one. Look at Jesus - freely given to you in all your sin, fully possessing you for all your life.

Don't balance licence and legalism. They're both errors and the answer is not in between. In Christ we are both captive and crowned.

11 thoughts on “We Do NOT Balance Licence and Legalism

  1. Howard Nowlan

    The marvel of grace is, that purely because of the love He sets upon us, we will be, one day, a bride, adorned for her husband, so He should indeed by the 'altogether lovely' one to our bodies and souls, so that we are drawn entirely by the richness, the allure of such astonishing love. Thanks, Glen.

  2. Dick Koelling

    Another great and inspiring message Glen. As usual, put together so well.
    We'll surely never tire of being reminded of the enormity of what he does for us and it's very useful to step out of the errors of trying to 'balance' these mistakes.
    Thanks brother.

  3. Howard Nowlan

    The marvel of grace is, that purely because of the love He sets upon us, we will be, one day, a bride, adorned for her husband, so He should indeed be the ‘altogether lovely’ one to our bodies and souls, so that we are drawn entirely by the richness, the allure of such astonishing love. Thanks, Glen.

    (Corrected).

  4. Pingback: We Should NOT Balance License and Legalism | Do You Really Believe?

  5. Glen

    Thanks for comments all.

    Hi Judd,

    I'm always nervous about depersonalizing "grace". Perhaps we could say "Grace is Jesus given for you. Holiness is Christ lived in you"?

  6. Wayne McDaniel

    Glenn, Thank you for this poem of truth.
    I need this reminder. Many around the world long to see the beauty of Jesus in our faces, but our words blur His beauty and we obscure Him. May the Spirit cause us to see Jesus again, and prompt us to speak quickly, before hesitation and calculation blurs him again. Psalm 65:4 Isaiah 57:15

  7. Glen

    :) I know the feeling. Blogging's changed though - no-one seems to use RSS feeds anymore so you wait without readers for a while, then all of a sudden social media throws people your way. I live in hope anyway...

  8. Pingback: Orthopraxy | Legalism or License? The Answer is not in Between

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