If we study the Bible, witness to those who don’t know Christ, give tithes, pray, and help others, what makes something legalistic?
Motives for doing or not doing something is huge when it comes to doing all these things. Example: Two people are witnessing to others about Jesus Christ. The one does it because the Bibles says we are to be a witness. This person does this out of obligation and to please God. The other knows they are already accepted by God through Jesus Christ and want to tell others of God’s amazing grace, out of love. So we have two people doing the same outwardly activity. The first under law – obligation – to be right with God. The second person – under grace because they know they are already accepted and have a deep desire to see others have the same relationship with Christ.
One is out of the spirit because they truly want to see the other person’s life changed and the other out of the flesh, with no anointing of the spoken word because they feel they have to do it to please God. When our motives are from the spirit, we have no bragging rights. It’s all done for His glory.
Law is always self-effort. Example: Lets take two people again; the first is saying all the right Biblical churchy talk. They imitate what they have heard other church goers say, raise their hands in church, even quote scripture, but they will not teach others about grace because they don’t believe it themselves. They more or less feel it is their job to tell others all the things they should not be doing, while they themselves may still be doing them. They are afraid to let the Holy Spirit do His job in themselves and others.
Here is what the Bible says: According to Titus 2:11-13, (11) For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. (12) teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, (13) looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
So, grace and love of God are the true motivators for the Christian life, not my opinion, but according to the Bible.
I think one of the most frustrating emotions a Christian can have is to not know how to “walk by the spirit”, when we are trying to do everything right in order to be pleasing to others and to get God’s approval.
To understand “walking in the spirit,” we can’t forget the most import foundation; God’s love for man-kind, enough to send Christ, to take all our due punishment. Christ said on the cross, “It is finished.” His work is complete forgiveness, reconciliation, and total acceptance through His blood that was shed=love. Our motives for doing or not doing will be out of love, for others, because Christ first loved us. When we grasp a hold of that enormous love that Christ had, has, and forever will have for us, we begin to walk in our every day lives by His Spirit He has placed in every believer. A genuine concern for others will begin to transform on the inside and will spill out in our actions.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 describes what we, as Christians, will have on the inside, coming out towards others through Christ. (Verse 4) Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; (Verse 5) does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; (Verse 6) does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; (Verse 7) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (Verse 8) Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
This kind of love is not a feeling. It is shown by our actions.
So if ever in doubt as to whether or not you are walking by the spirit or doing things out of the flesh, check your motives. Is it out of love, or is it out of some fleshly gain, obligation, or rule someone has placed on you or to get credit? I think we all could use a daily reminder of what the scripture describes in 1 Corinthians, what love truly is, then we can get our motives right for why we do what we do. We love, because He first loved us!