Two Perspectives: Under Law vs. Under Grace

Author
Dennis McCallum

Legalism leads to deadly pathology in our walk with God. The following chart discusses some of these problems. See Walking in Victory, Chapter 7 for the commentary that goes along with each section.

Area Under Law Under Grace

View of the law

  • A set of detailed obligations that I must keep
  • Rigid application of case law
  • The underlying principles of the law describe the ultimate goal toward which God is moving me: a loving life-style

View of self

  • I am regenerate, and therefore I am able to keep the law.
  • The law helps me live for God.
  • I am regenerate, but I still can't keep the law, because of my "outer man."
  • By relying on the Spirit, not the letter, I can gradually change.

View of the Holy Spirit

  • Little practical understanding of the Spirit's ministries
  • Depends on the Holy Spirit for all power, Motivation, and direction

The "Key" to spiritual growth

  • Self discipline
    or
  • Special experiences
  • Knows self-effort is futile Romans 7:18
  • Looks to a process, not to quick-fix experiences

Approach to Scripture

  • Relies on an inconsistent hermeneutic
  • Unable to harmonize Jesus and the epistles
  • Is consistent, and is able to harmonize the gospels and epistles

Mental focus

  • My duty: to do what the rules require
  • Identification with Christ
  • Personal relationship with God
  • Loving others as a means of growth

Reaction to failure

  • Surprised and distressed
  • Rationalizations, minimization, blame-shifting and self-recrimmination
  • Vows to do better
  • Not surprised
  • Confident of God's acceptance
  • Return to active dependence

Reaction to success

  • Proud and intolerant of others
  • Humbly grateful
  • Still able to empathize with those who fail
  • Sees continued need for growth

Eventual result

  • External conformity, but increasing internal defeat and hypocrisy
  • Growing cynicism and despair OR:
    Self-righteous externalistic comparisons--self deception
  • Gradual transformation into a person with a measure of victory over sin and a spiritual mind-set
  • A more loving person