The Way of “Legalism” or The Way of “License”

Arthur Licursi

Part 9 of 14 –

On one hand we have the religious legalism of trying to keep the works of the Law, and on the other hand we have the mistaken “license to go on sinning.” Neither one is an appropriate response to the Sin problem.

So what is the answer?

John, as an Apostle to “the circumcision,” writes to Israel to addresses this issue. “My little children, I write you these things so that you may not violate God’s law and sin…” (1John 2:1a (AMP). If we are honest we might reply as follows. “Wait a minute! Me, “not Sin”? That’s impossible. I could never attain that standard!”

That’s right. Trying to attain that standard only makes us realize our utter hopelessness and inability to reach perfection. “We” are never and will never be good enough in and of ourselves. Those who attempt this approach will only find themselves mired in a miserable existence of Sin-consciousness ,with the guilt, shame, and the insecurity that it brings. For these heart-aching, guilt-ridden, shame-covered prodigal children of God, the elderly Apostle John continues by lighting a candle of hope: But if anyone should sin, we have an Advocate (One Who will intercede for us) with the Father—[it is] Jesus Christ [the all] righteous [upright, just, Who conforms to the Father’s will in every purpose, thought, and action]. 1 John 2:1 (AMP)

Picture this - the courtroom is packed for your trial. The prosecutor has a water-tight case against you. Not only does he have witnesses who saw you in the act, but he has your own confession of guilt. There is no way on earth the Judge could justly hand down any other verdict but “Guilty as charged.” But this court is not on earth; it is in heaven.

Enter the Defense for you. He has no volumes of evidence to present on your behalf. He has no witnesses to affirm your innocence. All He has is scars—in His hands and in his feet—scars from a Roman cross where he took the blame for your Sin, and paid your penalty in full. This is all the evidence he needs to present to the Judge.

Because of Christ’s substitutionary death for us, we are pardoned. It is not because we are something or were something, but that our God was gracious in sending His Son to die for us. It is not because we were lovely, but that our God loved us and bestowed his grace upon us in the per son of His Son. Grace does not boast in me and say, “What a good person I am.” Rather, it glories in Christ, and declares, “What a great God I have!”

Realizing all that He has done for us, then how can we possibly then take a license to sin; the cross stands between the believer and his sinning. It is our co-death “in Christ” that has freed us from Sin’s former power and dominion over us.

"What shall we say, then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? ... Our old man [nature] has been crucified with Him... that henceforth we should not serve sin... For he that is dead is freed from sin (Sin’s dominion)…let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof; neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves to God, as those who are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (Rom. 6:1, 2, 6-7, 12, 13).