From Legalism to Gratitude 1 John 4:19

11 Feb

tumblr_lsjbn5dB9p1qbatwqo1_1280(1 John 4:19)  We love because he first loved us.

This is one of the most important messages I could ever present! It gets to the very heart and soul of who we are as Christians! Please listen closely with your heart and mind. We’re about to go to a most important place.

 We begin with the tale of two fathers: the first on a little league baseball field. It’s a hot day and very dusty…a lot of sons around us with great emotions. (describe scene where one son –the best player on the team — strikes out at the key point of the game…his dad is leaning on the fence behind the back stop: response of his father: you’re pathetic!)

 How could anyone treat their son like that? Can you imagine what it would be like living in that house?

 The 2nd father? His son made a series of bad decisions and ended up in the worst possible place morally a son could end up. He came to the realization that he wasn’t even worthy of being the son of this father.

 His father’s response? Luke 15:20: “So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. {21} “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ {22} “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. {23} Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. {24} For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” {32} “But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”

 Two fathers. Two very different responses! Two different kind of relationships! Both fathers may have had broken hearts, but they handled it differently!

 Which one best describes the relationship you have with your heavenly Father! We know one is made up…the 2nd father is the inspired description of our God!

 This is a lesson entitles “From Legalism to Gratitude.” Father #1 is the Christian legalist, while Father #2 is Christian gratitude.

Legalism is not about keeping rules; we all have truths, standards, teachings that put before us right and wrong.

 Legalism IS about our motivation for keeping those rules! It’s a twisted system that implies that it is difficult to gain God’s love. That we are always in a position of needing to earn the love of God.

 It’s a response to love withheld. It ends best with what I do, my power, my achievements.

 And it produces fear! Inside it causes us to be “scared to death” because we never know how we stand with God.

 It ultimately crushes the spirit. Our religious beliefs aren’t a blessing. Eventually we begin to realize that we’re trying to earn the love of a Father who cannot/will not be pleased!

 This legalistic attitude is 180 degrees opposite to the development of faith and maturity in the Bible. It’s completely against the teachings of both Paul and John: 

 (Rom 8:1 NIV)  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,”

 (1 John 5:13 NIV)  “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

 When God gave the 10 commandments to the children of Israel, before He began, He makes clear that He wants their response to be based on a relationship with Him:

(Exodus 20:1-3 NIV)  And God spoke all these words: {2} “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. {3} “You shall have no other gods before me.

 Listen to the words given to Israel as they are about the possess the promised land:

(Joshua 24:1-3 NIV)  Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God. {2} Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abracham and Nahor, lived beyond the River and worshiped other gods. {3} But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the River and led him throughout Canaan and gave him  wemany descendants. I gave him Isaac,

  (Joshua 24:13-15 NIV)  So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’ {14} “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. {15} But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, th Graen choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

 (Gal 2:15-16 NIV)  “”We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ {16} know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”

 (Gal 2:21 NIV)  “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!””

 (Rom 8:15-17 NIV)  “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” {16} The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. {17} Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

 Our life as Christians is NOT about earning love from a God who won’t give it!! No Way! The greatest expression of God’s love is in the death of His Son. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8, nasb).

 The sending of Christ into the world, and His death on the cross, were not prompted by man’s love for God. They were prompted by His love for man. The world’s attitude toward God is anything but love!

 It is important that Christians progress in their understanding of love. To love one another simply out of a sense of duty is good, but to love out of appreciation (rather than obligation) is even better.


Love lavished; we are “sons” “daughters” Love withheld
What God has done What I do
Confidence (certain of eternity) Fear (judgment)
Security Insecurity
Fill our spirit Crushes our spirit
Bless our lives Curse our life

 After Peter’s denials

(Luke 22:61 NIV)  “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.””

 Story of two husbands and the list. One never said “thank you” or “I love you.” Always had a list of things he expected her to do each day.  He died…she married someone who said/showed deep love. Found “the list” many years later and broke down in tears…realized she was doing everything on “the list” for the second husband in the midst of a very different atmosphere!

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Posted by on February 11, 2016 in Sermon


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