Okay, I’ve got a confession to make: I’m a smuggler. There, I said it. I got it off my chest. No, I’m not a drug smuggler, I don’t smuggle illegal immigrants across the border, and I don’t smuggle candy into movie theaters (at least not anymore). I’m not like my Star Wars hero, Han Solo, smuggling illegal contraband through Imperial blockades. But I am a smuggler, and on a daily basis for that matter. I’m a works smuggler.
What exactly am I talking about? Listen to the words of Sinclair Ferguson and see if you can relate: “Our greatest temptation and mistake is to try to smuggle character into God’s work of grace.” This is a very accurate description of me. On a daily basis I’m tempted to “smuggle” my works into the justifying work of God. I’m tempted to try and add my works of righteousness to the finished, perfect work of Jesus Christ. I’m tempted to believe that I can make myself more righteous in God’s eyes by my spiritual performance. This, my friends, is a temptation that each of us faces on a daily basis, and we must fight against it if we are to please Christ.
How can you tell if you are a works smuggler? Take a moment and answer these questions:
- Do you feel that God accepts and delights in you more if you perform spiritual acts, such as reading your Bible, memorizing scripture, or praying?
- When you are convicted of sin, do you include works as part of your repentance? For example, after sinning, do you feel that you must pray for at least an hour to get back in God’s good graces? Or do you feel like you need to read your Bible to get “clean” again?
- Do you always feel like you’re disappointing God, and that you can never make Him happy?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re a works smuggler, or in scriptural terms, a legalist. You believe, in action if not in thought, that you can add to the finished work of Christ. Friends, legalism is a serious sin. It says in essence, that what Jesus did on the cross wasn’t enough, and that you need to add your works to the finished work of Christ. God hates legalism.
This week we are going to be taking time to meditate on the finished work of Christ for the purpose of defeating legalism. We are going to ponder all that Christ has done so that we might freshly experience the joy of our salvation. We are going to give up our career in works smuggling and fling ourselves wholly on the mercy of God.