The Way In and the Way Out
Updated: Feb 8, 2019
Religious OCD & Scrupulosity Caused and Empowered By Legalism:
Romans Chapters Seven & Eight―The Way In and the Way Out
Please allow me to start this blog by saying that what is written below, I have had to partake of it myself first. This blog is in no wise meant unto condemnation, but it is meant for truth unto salvation. After all, I too, once, was entrenched in legalism and below describes exactly where I once was. If you find some choice of words to be strong, please understand that these are the very adjectives and adverbs the Lord used to describe me first, that is, to describe the way I was. This blog also shows the way out. Please read it with an open heart. The truths contained in this blog have the power to set you free either immediately or ultimately, for the Bible says and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free (see John 8:31-32).
THE WAY IN
Romans 7:14-23 NKJV
“14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”
So the devil whispers a thought into the carnal believer’s mind, that is, the believer who relies on his own power and self-effort to live free from sin. The legalistic believer, whose very salvation rests on his own ability to live godly, starts to panic and attempts to cast out the thought knowing that the content of the thought is against the law of God. But now that the thought has been thought, the new covenant believer living under the old covenant law fears that he has disobeyed the law and such fear and condemnation cause the unwanted thought to become an endless recurring thought, not being governed by grace, for ever bouncing from one side of the believer’s mind to the other side of the mind. So the unbelieving believer (the Bible states in Galatians 3:10-14 that the law doesn’t rest on faith) tries to stop the thought in his own power because he must―because the law’s requirement is to be holy, but the more he tries, the more the thought persists. The law, ever watching in disapproval, causes the enslaved believer to try all the more, but due to the law of sin that dwells in every human’s members, the fight becomes an endless vicious cycle. The thought that the fearful believer doesn’t want to think he ends up thinking, and the thought that the fearful believer wants to think, he ends up not thinking. The panic-stricken law-bound Christian tries yet harder and harder, with seemingly no way of escape, and with fear mercilessly increasing and compounding the struggle, as the law continuously stares with disapproval and condemnation at the desperate victim-offender―strengthening the sin (see 1 Corinthians 15:56) and pronouncing the dreaded death sentence (see 2 Corinthians 3:7-9) upon the helpless scrupulous believer, that is, upon the believer who rebelliously no longer rests in faith in the finished work of the cross.
THE WAY OUT
Romans 7:24-25, Romans 8:1-5 NKJV
“24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
Free from Indwelling Sin
8 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”
Many of us will agree that the solution to indwelling sin isn’t to continue in sin because “we can’t” stop or because we believe that grace covers it. The solution remains Christ in me the hope of glory (see Colossians 1:27). The solution is recorded in Romans 8:1,4―to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh (also see Galatians 5:16). It is to walk in the Spirit so that we can be free from the law (see Galatians 5:18) and from the dominion of sin (see Galatians 5:16 and Romans 6:14). To walk in the Spirit means to live in dependence on the Spirit. And to walk in the flesh means to live in dependence on the flesh. O what a revelation! This means that we are free to depend on Him to perfect us, to make us what we ought to be, to make us right―without us having to feel condemned if we have not arrived yet―for our heart is repentant and our trust is in Him. It means that we can now depend on Him to mold us and to shape us into Christ’s image. It means that we can depend on Him to do the work in us that only He can do. It means that we can depend on Him to complete that which He started in us (see Philippians 1:6). Condemnation pronounces us guilty and brings a wedge between us and God. However, Christ is the bridge to cross over to God. Accordingly, the Bible says that we are to walk by faith and not by sight (see 2 Corinthians 5:7). Therefore, receiving the free gift of righteousness is walking in the Spirit. Trusting Him to make us what we ought to be is walking in the Spirit. Running to Christ for forgiveness when we sin is walking in the Spirit. Trusting that we are saved by His grace alone through faith and not relying on our human effort and ability to make ourselves acceptable to Him is walking in the Spirit. To live by faith as per Romans 1:17. To mind the things which are above (see Romans 8:5 and Colossians 3:2). To work out (not for) our salvation with fear and trembling, not in our own strength, for it is God who works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure (see Philippians 2:12-13). He works in first, then we work out. But we can’t work out unless He first worked in.
2 Peter 1:4 NKJV says, “by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” We appropriate the promises of God through faith; by believing with our heart. We believe that we have been made a new creation in Christ Jesus; that the old is gone and the new has come (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). We believe that we were set free from sin (see Matthew 1:21). We consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God (see Romans 6:11). We believe that He has given us everything we need for life and godliness (see 2 Peter 1:3). We believe that we are the righteousness of God in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). We believe that we have been crucified with Christ and that it is no longer we that live, but Christ that lives in us (see Galatians 2:20a). We believe that the life that we now live, we live by faith in and of the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us (see Galatians 2:20b). We believe that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (see Philippians 4:13). As we appropriate the promises, we begin to, with ease, being under grace and not under law, partake of the divine nature and we are thus freed from the thought and from its guilt. But we need to be freed from the guilt and strength of the thought first, if we ever want to be freed from the thought itself.
“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”―Romans 6:14 NKJV
And we say grace, grace and more grace!