Have you ever seen someone run from such a bad, or legalistic, church or family that they ran headlong into some other oppressive situation? Have you, by chance, been that person? Have you seen someone who now loves to hear Bible criticism, or bad news of Christian’s failing, or approval of things clearly defined as sin in the Bible? I wonder if it is now epidemic to see such things.
C. S. Lewis says for some “it can be liberating to lose a faith based upon guilt, not grace.” For some that is such the case they can actually be glad to hear information apparently discrediting of Christianity. This fact suggests three important things to us that affects differently across the spectrum:
1. It is truly liberating to leave a faith based on guilt.
Bondage forces us to crave freedom. It is quite perplexing when you are convinced that God demands the guilt as the way to Him. When you realize, however, that religious men have hoisted that system upon your back, you will likely run like a small child to a freshly-cleaned room to pull all the toys back out. It is liberating as grace delivers where nothing else will and it only dwells in the calming, safe region of the Lord.
If you have ever stumbled into the dark world of performance-based Christianity with its heavy, guilt-laden load, you will feel like you walked from the shivering cold into warm sunrays when you make your escape. It will be one of the greatest things that ever happened to you. The only danger is where you run to in your escape.
2. You don’t want to be a pastor, church, or Christian who puts people in this position.
Why be a recipient of grace and peddle bondage? Why pile burdens on people’s backs when you were called to proclaim a gospel of deliverance? It could be that we have drunk the Koolaid ourselves and are only passing it on because that is what the one who passed the Koolaid to us said to do.
We should want to see people run from the bondage of sin, but we should be horrified when their liberation came when they ran from us! This is simpler than we think. People will run to us if all we have is Jesus to give, but they will sprint away when we offer the cumbersome package of Jesus plus something else. We will hate to come to the end of the way thinking we propagated Christianity only to find we sold the cheap substitute of religion.
3. You don’t want to be the person who runs from legalism to some other bondage.
Some have their epiphany and run from a faith based on guilt, but they run the wrong way. It’s like they are attracted to grace but run right by it. In fleeing the grasp of legalism they fall in the clutches of licentiousness. We were not given grace that sin might abound. Some in casting off the legalistic rules men added to God’s Word throw out His actual commands too. Talk about throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water!
You see it so often. One throws out the man-made regulations on clothing, but throws out God’s command for modesty too. One leaves a pharisaical rule that you can’t go to a movie, but then goes and watches one that is truly vile. The list goes on and on and stretches the meaning of “grace” past recognizable forms.
Faith based on guilt should be replaced by one based on love of Christ. That is more than a hairsplitting, far more. To be compelled by love rather than guilt is a polar opposite. To believe that grace rendered God morally neutral is a mistake. Grace is the loving path God brought me around the mess of my sin, not the path that brought my Lord into the sin with me.
This error of thought can spiral to taking people away from the Lord. When we run by grace rather than into it, we will find our new Christianity as unfulfilling as our old one. Then in a second foray into warped Christianity we want little to do with Christianity altogether.
So praise the Lord if you escaped legalism! But don’t run into another oppression. If you do, you will only have a false liberation.
Find all articles in the series here.