In your opinion, what is the commonest hindrance to being led by the Holy Spirit? It is legalism, religious legalism.
Legalism is seeking to achieve righteousness with God by keeping a set of rules. But, Christianity is not a set of rules. Christianity is primarily a relationship with a person. That person is Jesus and the relationship is with another person, the Holy Spirit.
A second possible definition of legalism would be this: imposing requirements for righteousness which God Himself has not imposed. God has laid down in the Bible what He requires to achieve righteousness with him and nobody, no church, no group, no one has any authority to add one requirement to God’s requirements. And to add even one requirement is to trespass in the area of legalism. The Holy Spirit is Lord and He will not share His Lordship with a set of rules!
Lots of Christian churches today say we are not under the Law of Moses but they’ve made their own set of rules. In fact, almost every denomination has its own little law. I want to tell you, if the Law of Moses couldn’t do it, which was given by God, no religious denominational law can do it either. You see, the essence of the fall and the essence of sin is not primarily the desire to do evil, it’s the desire to be independent from God.
The New Testament continually warns us against seeking to achieve righteousness by keeping law. Romans 3:20:
. . . because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in [God’s] sight: for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
God says emphatically, no human being will ever achieve righteousness in My sight by struggling to keep the Law. You say, “Why was the Law given?” Well, one main reason was the Law was given not to make us righteous but to show us that we are sinners and we need God’s grace and the help of the Holy Spirit.
I want to tell you, frankly, that I think that’s the commonest single problem in the church. People begin by the Spirit, but they are not willing to continue relying on the Holy Spirit. Paul points out that going back to the Law brings a curse (Galatians 3:10). In Jeremiah 17:5 we hear the words of the Lord through Jeremiah.
Thus says the LORD, Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD. (NAS)
You see, there are only two alternatives but they are mutually exclusive. If you want to be led by the Holy Spirit, you are not under a system of law. You do not achieve it by keeping any set of rules.
The essence of sin is not primarily the desire to do evil, it’s the desire to be independent from God.
Dear Lord, I want to be close to you and to walk with you, but I also see the hidden tendency in my heart to live independently from You and to earn a certain level of self-righteousness. Thank you for forgiving me and for being patience with me. Your grace in Jesus Christ is enough to make me holy and righteous.
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