Tag Archives: standards for living

Why legalists can’t hear God

Grace 101

Okay, I will quickly confess that the title above is provocative and not entirely true.  God can get His voice heard by anyone, even compromised prophets, witches, and legalists.

The simple truth is that most people who are under the law, stuck in performance spirituality, don’t hear God because they don’t expect to hear Him.  Think back to what you learned as a young believer.  Maybe you were in Sunday School.  Did anyone ever tell you to listen for the voice of God in your heart?  Probably not.  They said to read Scripture and do right.  If you had the Scripture, you had all of God that you needed and all you could expect to get.  (Of course, the local teacher’s word was almost Scripture so you were supposed to listen to him also.)

But that’s not all.  Legalism is a system with rules and standards and expectations.  Lists!  We loved lists!  We don’t need to hear a voice of love, just give us a list of things to do and things to avoid.  As long as we follow the list, we don’t really need anything else.  Who needs a relationship when you have a list?

I remember one marriage suggestion made by a popular teacher.  He said that the husband should sit down early each morning and make out a list of things he wanted his wife and children to do during the day.  By giving her a list of expectations, he was communicating his love for her, the teacher said.

Is that the way to communicate love?  I agree that expectations that are unspoken set a person up for failure and cause problems in relationships.  But what about talking through those expectations?  Maybe some of them are unnecessary or even foolish.  There is no real communication, no heart connection, in a list.

And the legalist system depends on the lists.  Ten Commandments, church rules, 49 commands, rules for holy living, whatever.

The comics these days joke about kids and their cell phones.  They no longer want to talk because they are too busy texting their friends.  So, the mom and dad, in order to be heard, are supposed to text their kids in order to communicate with them.  Actually, that’s not too funny.  It’s kind of sad.

Why should God speak to the legalist heart?  If our noses are stuck in the texts of our lists, would we listen to Him anyway?

Legalists don’t hear God because they are too busy trying to find Him in their lists to hear His voice in their hearts.  They can’t stop, even to hear Him tell them of His love.

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Filed under Grace 101, Legalism