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December 2 Today’s Reading: 2 Corinthians 8-11
“I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
2 Corinthians 11:3
Satan is a crafty, subtle deceiver. He does not care what the issue is by which men and women are beguiled, so long as they are beguiled. He does not care what he gets you to embrace, so long as he gets you to turn away from Christ. When the fiend of hell turns anyone away from Christ, he has won the day. Here are four dangers to which we are all naturally susceptible, four snares of Satan by which multitudes have been deceived. Many who were once so promising, so encouraging, so impressive have been turned away from Christ by one of these four satanic snares. Mark them and be warned.
Worldliness is a very great danger. The care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, the love of the world (its riches, its power, its acceptance, its pleasures) have slain many. Usually, these weeds do their work slowly, but they do it effectively. Beware of worldliness (Matthew 13:22; 1 John 2:15-17).
Arminianism is a great danger, because we are all proud Arminians by nature. No matter how thoroughly convinced we are of free grace, our proud, sinful nature still cries up, “Freewill!” We all want to build the altar at which we worship by our own hands (Exodus 20:24-25). We all want to think that salvation, at least some part of salvation, at least in some measure, is of our own doing. Arminianism is a monster with many heads. Every time it raises one of its ugly heads, cut it off quickly. Do not endure for a moment any thought that promotes man’s dignity, or any thought that robs God of his glory (Romans 9:16).
Being proud, arrogant worms, we all have to face the danger of intellectualism, too. Satan knows how proud we all are of our puny brains. Because we are so very proud of our mental abilities, we vainly imagine that by much study and diligent research we can find out all things. We foolishly imagine that we can by searching find out God! So we give ourselves to answering one question, then another, and then another. Those who give in to this lust of the flesh soon make the gospel of Christ a sideline, because there is no end to foolish questions. And when the gospel of Christ becomes a sideline in any church or ministry, or any individual, Satan has won the day (1 Timothy1:4; 2 Timothy 2:23; Titus 3:9).
The spirit of bondage and legality is more frequently and more forcefully dealt with in the New Testament than any other error. To one degree or another, worldliness, Arminianism, and intellectualism all have their roots in the spirit of legality. Let me be crystal clear.
Legalism is any doctrine which teaches that man can be justified before God by something he does. Legalism is any doctrine which makes sanctification and holiness something a man does for himself. Legalism is any doctrine which teaches that man can put God under obligation to him, that man can, by something he does, merit God’s favor. Legalism is any attempt to bring the people of God back under the bondage of the law.
This demon of legality must be exposed and eradicated. The Holy Spirit says, “Cast out the bondwoman and her child.” Nothing is more harmful, or more deadly than this foolish attachment of sinful men to the law. It promotes pride and self-righteousness. It turns a man’s eyes away from Christ to himself. It causes strife and division among God’s people, causing sinful man to think he is something when he is nothing. It destroys every foundation of true peace and assurance before God. It is in direct opposition to the plainest statements of Holy Scripture.
Legalism, in any form, to any degree is totally contrary to the gospel of Christ. Law and grace simply will not mix. We who believe on Christ, being saved by the free grace of God in Christ, are not under the law in any sense, to any degree, for any reason. We will not, we must not allow anyone to bring us under the yoke of bondage to the law. (Romans 6:15; 7:4; 10:4; Galatians 3:1-3, 13, 24-25; 5:1-4; 6:12-13; Colossians 2:16-17; 1 Timothy 1:5-10).
I use great plainness of speech, because I want to be understood. Let men call me a foul, base antinomian and promoter of licentiousness as often and as loudly as they please. I will not be moved. There is no room for Hagar in Sarah’s house! You cannot rest on Zion’s hill of grace until you quit trying to climb Sinai’s dark, high mountain. Ishmael shall never be heir with Isaac.
We can have either grace or works, but not both. We can have either Moses or Christ, but not both. We can either work or rest, but we cannot do both! Any mixture of law with grace is a total denial of grace. If we cling to the one, we cannot hold the other (Romans 11:6).