Walking in the Light Vs. Legalism
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you hate hypocrisy? There is nothing that turns more people off church these days than hypocrites. The word hypocrisy comes from the Greek hypokrisis, which means: play, acting, to play a part. The difference between a hypocritical, legalistic person and a Christian who walks in the Light resides in their heart.
A legalistic person practices and follows God’s commandments, but their walk is not born out of a genuine heart change. The Bible is a book of dos and don’ts for them. Their motives are not right in front of God––they try to “earn” their salvation with good works, not realizing that unless God changes their hearts, they are just impersonating righteousness. The apostle Paul warns us regarding legalism and having confidence in the flesh and our own righteousness. After his encounter with Christ, he counted all his works as rubbish to gain Christ’s righteousness through faith in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:4–11).
Someone who walks in the Light has encountered God, and this encounter with the Light has shown this person how lost they are in their sin. God’s light has exposed their sin, and that conviction led them to receive Jesus’s work for them as the most beautiful undeserved gift. The gratitude that is born out of receiving God’s love, mercy, and grace changes our hearts and motives. The fellowship (closeness, intimacy, communion) we experience with God through Jesus’s sacrifice changes our hearts, and our actions become the result––the fruit––of our walk with God.
Walking in the Light creates an authentic, loving, Christ-centered community having nothing to do with hypocrisy. Once you experience the love of the Father, you will start forgiving those who have wronged you, you will remove gossip from your lips, and you will love as you have never loved before. Your good deeds will not come from legalism but from a loving relationship with God the Father.
Your life will shine like a lighthouse. It will become a beacon of hope for those who have been trying so hard to be accepted and loved. The love you receive through your relationship and fellowship with the Father will become so attractive that people will start wondering about your change. A church that exercises love proves, more than anything else, that we are disciples of Christ (John 13:35 ESV). May our walk in the Light shine amid darkness and lead people to Jesus!