Legalism That Steals Your Joy

So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.  — John 5:10-13

This moment precisely illustrates the joy and freedom of righteousness in contrast with the burden of religious legalism. Jesus has just performed an incredible miracle. He healed a man who had been lame for about four decades. As far we know, this man has never walked a day in his life. But in conjunction with the healing, Jesus told the man to "take up his bed and walk." Now, this part of the Savior's instructions to the lame violated one of the 39 prohibitions of work on the Sabbath day as written by religious authorities. It was not an act of disobedience but a violation of their additional religious rules.

So in the interaction with the lame man, these religious legalists want to get to the bottom of this. They see right past the joy of the miracle and the fact there is a lame man standing in front of them who has never walked before. All they care about is the mat rolled up under his arm. Why? Because it's too heavy to carry around on a Sabbath day.

Don't you hate it when people do stuff like this? You hit a home run, and then your dad points out all the little things you could have done better. You crush the sales quota for the month, and your boss focuses on a tiny issue with a client that went wrong. You spend a fortune for a family vacation, and everyone complains about a minor travel issue. You work your butt off for a test, but you miss the grade you want by a fraction of a point. We have all experienced these things. And sometimes, when these events happen, we get drawn into legalism. Like this lame man, we set aside the wonder of the miracle and begin to question ourselves. Then we duck, deflect, blame, and explain, assuming we have done something wrong and the joy and freedom are stolen. And even worse, as a victim of religious legalism, we learn and do the same to others.

Today celebrate something God has done for you. Be joyous. Experience freedom. Focus less on your minor imperfections and those things that still need to change. God will address them all in time. For now, refuse to practice the legalism that was modeled to you and stop passing this on to others.

ASK THIS: What has God done in you that you need to celebrate?

DO THIS: Celebrate it. Reject legalism.

PRAY THIS: Jesus, thank you for this wonderful thing you have done in my life.

PLAY THIS: Eye of the Storm.

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Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.

14 thoughts on “Legalism That Steals Your Joy

  1. William Steffen says:

    So sorry to hear you were at Soiouthwind Young Life. We volunteer there and did not realize that was where the retreat would be held. I hear there will be a repeat next year. I will be sure not to miss it then.

  2. David Josker says:

    Jesus, thank you for all the wonderful things and there are many that you have done in my life.

  3. Paul L says:

    God has delivered me from almost a life’s worth of sin, shame and separation. I keep celebrating [though I sometimes stumble] my new life and rebirth in Christ and oh the beauty he has laid before me and I try to faithfully serve Him where he leads me. I am so grateful also that I got to experience the revival at Asbury University as it was taking off. If I only had one engine fired, both are at full blast now!!

    • Vince Miller says:

      Spot on, Sheldon.
      I am about ready to bring a small group of men to your area for a trip.
      We should talk about the possibility in the coming 12 months.

    • Paul L says:

      Hey Brother Sheldon,
      It has been a minute since Cross Lake, but I smile every time I see one of your posts here. Be well and God bless! >

  4. Dan says:

    Vince! Dan from Albuquerque. Our men’s group, 20 strong, listens and shares your devotional. It fits the bill for our busy lives and allows us time in His word through you to slow down and be still. Thanks brother. God Bless!

  5. Eddie Ackerman says:

    When I made the decision to rededicate my life to Jesus, I was still struggling with my repetitive sin and addiction to pornography. After a few months of positive spiritual progress and the grip of this repetitive sin had lost its foothold on my life, I found myself in a precarious situation. When I decided that my wife was going to be my ONLY sexual outlet, as it SHOULD have been up to that point our entire marriage, but sadly was not, I removed all magazines and movies from the house and had my wife be the only person with the password to the antivirus software so that I COULD NOT even TRY to visit the sites I had grown accustomed to visiting on a regular basis. Maybe a month after this, I was going through the bookshelf and found a DVD I had missed. Without hesitation, I broke this DVD in half and threw it in the trash, knowing that just a few months ago, I would have watched it one last time before doing so, but rejoiced in the maturity that God had instilled in me to not give into the temptation, but rather to run from sexual immorality. Thank you God for this healing and growth in my life and in my marriage that I needed.

    • Mark says:

      Eddie, what a great testimony you’re able to share! God also delivered me from an addiction to pornography and sexual immorality, by his grace and mercy we are healed and it is an incredible blessing! I believe that the testimony we share is an ongoing opportunity for other men to see God’s hand at work when we submit ourselves to Him, repent and seek forgiveness. It also has been an opportunity to have an accountability partner, a brother in the Lord, to share in the journey and hold each other accountable and focused on God and his unending mercy.

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