I read a blog recently in which the author shared her love for the King James Version of the Bible and the old Baptist hymns. I read a post on a discussion group in which someone asked a question and the answer was to direct the seeker to the old Puritan writings. After all, what is old is good, right? Not necessarily.
Although I tend to be a traditionalist myself and I have great respect for those who struggled for answers in the past, I have come to understand that the old ways are not best just because they are old. In fact, some of the old ideas are just plain wrong.
One of the primary struggles of the grace-filled life is the pull to the past, the old ways of thinking. In fact, much of the fear that creeps into the hearts of those who have come under grace is from the idea that the old way couldn’t have been so wrong. All the time, I hear questions like, “But what about the sins we continue to do?” Or, “But aren’t we commanded to go out and do good works?” It takes time and reinforcement to believe that Jesus is enough. It also takes a willingness to think a new way.
Only the most aberrant grace teachers say that we should just go out and sin without concern. Only the foolish would suggest that doing good works is not an important part of the Christian life. Yet, no matter how much we explain and support from Scripture, many people continue to struggle with thinking these things are necessary for “real” salvation. They continue in their bondage to the performance standards they learned in the old way.
What if the old way was wrong? What if you really can’t earn your way into Heaven or keep yourself on the road to Heaven by the good works you do? What if your sins today really are already washed away by the blood of Jesus? If these things are right, why would you want to go back to the old way?
For many people, even those who have discovered grace, the old way we are supposed to reject is the way of sin and death. But the old religion of works and performance is part of the way of sin and death. The law cannot give life. It only reveals death. Life is in Jesus. When we understand that everything is about Jesus, that He has done it all, that He is sufficient for what we need—then we will feel free.
For the record, I love the old hymns and I have great respect for the KJV. But I am no longer interested in the religion of those churches or preachers who say these represent the only right way. That way wasn’t ever right.
So, don’t give me that old time religion!