One of the biggest enemies of Christian discipleship and evangelism is a false perception of Christianity. A non-believer’s own personal views of the Christian faith can play into this perception. The way Christians portray their faith can also play into this perception. Whatever is used to feed this enemy, the sad reality is that a lot of people are turned off to Christianity because of a faulty idea about the faith. Too often when a person hears Christianity, they immediately think of legalism. We must destroy this false view of our faith.
Legalism is simply another word for moralism. This is trying to be as “good” as possible. Rules dominate a person with this mentality. Condemnation sets in when a moralistic person ends up making a mistake. Why, if a non-believer thinks that he or she is currently “free,” would they want to surrender their life to a list of rules and an attempt to earn favor with God? They wouldn’t, which is exactly why some people never surrender to Jesus. The actual Biblical truth, however, is that a person is never truly free until they place their faith in Jesus.
When a heart is surrendered to Jesus, it is immediately freed from the bondage of rules. It is never again judged by its own performance, which is amazing news since the Bible tells us that the human heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). Thank the Lord that we do not have to rely on something that is desperately sick for our salvation. We rely solely on the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross. There is nothing to earn. Legalism dies at the foot of the cross. This must be our message!
The sad reality is that when a non-believer looks on to a believer, they too often see a joyless, legalistic person trying to earn something that is impossible to earn. We are armed with a life-changing message of free grace, and yet we show a message of bondage. The result is an unattractive faith that keeps non-believers at a distance. Christ did not die to bring an unattractive message. He died to bring a life-changing message of new freedom.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
For what did Christ set us free? For freedom. As we evangelize and make disciples, we should be sharing freedom. Christianity should have a reputation of life-changing freedom instead of a yoke of slavery. No longer should Christianity equate to legalistic moralism in the mind of the world. False religions that place burdens on people’s backs can carry on that reputation. We have Good News to bring. We must tear down the faulty views of this Good News.
Let’s dive into the mind of a non-believer who has the wrong view of Christianity. While in college, I felt God drawing me to Himself. I knew what was happening but here was my reservation: “I feel like I know what is right, but if I dive into Christianity then I will be missing out. I will have to give up so much of what I am currently doing. I don’t know if I am ready for that. Is twenty years long enough for me to live without Christian bondage? Or should I wait longer and live a little more beforehand?” In a nutshell, I thought I was going to be stuck in boring bondage once I committed to Christ. It is obviously clear now that my first twenty years were the years of shackles and chains.
If my view of Christianity would have been a view of freedom, knowing what I know now, I would have surrendered to Christ much earlier. However, I had the same view that a lot of people have today. I thought the “fun” would be over once I surrendered. This is a lie straight from hell and we need to put it to death. We need to show and tell the world the Gospel in the proper light. College students with empty souls should be jumping at the chance to surrender to Christ. That is how good our Gospel is!
Despite what the world thinks or says about Christianity, or even what some Christians portray as Christianity, the Gospel is a desirable message that we are armed with. Christ died to bring us freedom. Romans 5:1 tells us that our faith in Him gives us peace with God. Our scorecard is settled. Instead of moralism and attempting to earn favor with God, we are simply given complete peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ. That is it. Nothing we do or have done can help God love us more. Nothing we do or have done can make God love us less. We are simply freed up to live for Christ and give Him our all. The results are life-changing.
Once I gave Christ my life, the fears I had were crushed. The false perception I had of what my Christian life would look like crumbled. I thought the fun would end and I would have to make myself act and become “better.” The reality was that my desires changed. I was not missing out on anything. Instead, I found everything! This is Christianity. Rules are no more. We have freedom in Christ. We are free from trying to earn anything because we have been given everything. There is no condemnation for us in Christ, even when we still mess up (Romans 8:1). Christ has covered all sin. This brings us a joy and a freedom. News this good changes everything.
In closing, I would just like to plead with you to destroy the false view of Christianity that you may have in your own head. If you already have peace and freedom in Christ, then I would plead with you to help destroy the false view of Christianity that is pushing so many people away. We have free grace being lavished on us every single day. Of course, we must take this grace seriously because it was costly enough for the Son of God to die for it. However, we cannot earn an ounce of it. We simply receive it. As we do, we receive freedom. This freedom creates Christ-honoring behavior in us, rather than our behavior somehow bringing us grace and freedom. There is no better news on the planet!
Legalism is not Christianity. Legalism is the enemy of Christianity. It kills our evangelism and discipleship efforts. The truth is that anything outside of Christianity is what will place a heavy load on our shoulders. Outside of Christ, we have everything to earn. With Christ, we have nothing to earn. I know which option sounds best to me. Destroy the false view of our faith and spread the Biblical, life-changing truth of our faith. People will come to know this truth, and “the truth will set them free” (John 8:32). Amen.