I am reading Adam and his Kin for my history blog, and the reading I did last night had such spiritual ramifications that I wanted to discuss it over here just a bit. It also ties into what Pastor preached last Sunday, and you can pull those notes up here. When the serpent appeared to Eve in the Garden, he asked about the fruit. He was trying to tempt her, of course, and it worked.

Here are the instructions God gave in Genesis 2:16

Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

But notice what Eve says in Genesis 3:2

We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die’

See, Eve added to the requirements God had set. Her addition made a reasonable restriction seem unbearably heinous. That’s legalism. It makes God look harsh and cruel.

Notice the other change: you shall surely die became lest you die. She took away from the punishment God had set. That’s greasy grace. It makes God seem capricious and unjust.

Neither of these views of God is true, but both ideas sprang from that first moment of temptation in the Garden. When we try to put our human interpretations on God’s Word, when we try to qualify it with our own “ifs, ands and buts”, when we twist it the least little bit, we begin a ride down a slope that can only lead to destruction. We set ourselves up to fail at a list of “requirements” that are impossible to fulfill and that God never made; or we set ourselves up for sure and certain consequences by denying the seriousness of his commands. Both stem from a refusal to take God at His Word.

Carnival of the Redeemed 3/13

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2 thoughts on “Legalism

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