This verse came clear to me this weekend. A friend and I were talking about legalism last week and this verse was mentioned in a book I was referencing later on that subject.
Legalism is not a term I knew anything about until probably 10 years ago or so. Most of the readers of this blog perhaps know what legalism is but in case some do not; legalism is trying to win God’s approval by your own righteous acts rather than believing that Jesus has already done everything to make us righteous. All we have to do is believe this. When we believe, then everything we do for Jesus from that point on is accomplished from the reference point of thankfulness, not duty.
I just realized there are two ways of reading this verse in 1st Peter 1:15-16
One is looking at it as a command from God to us, “16 Be ye holy, because I am holy.” This is the way I interpreted that verse up until the other day. Reading it that way certainly described my life in the meeting system and for many other religious systems as well. Trying so hard to be perfect, to be holy, but always messing up because I kept on sinning over and over.
The other way to read this verse is from the viewpoint of God declaring the thought over our lives, “You, Darla, be holy. You can because I am holy.” And from that point on, that is how he looks at me.
Wow. Quite a difference in interpretation, eh? The difference determines whether we are in bondage or freedom; whether we are living under legalism or liberty.
I have started a new project for myself and am keeping a little notebook of any definitions or examples of legalism I read about; I will jot those thoughts down in my notebook. So, I am asking for your input, readers. If you have any bullet point definitions or examples of legalism, please send them to me. Thanks!