I think legalism is my least favorite word that there is. The reason is that I hear so many people use it as an excuse for lukewarmness and apathy in living the Christian life. Legalism means trying to earn your salvation by good works, we can’t earn our salvation we receive it as a gift by faith. Now, that I am presently saved by faith, a child of God, and one who has their name written in the Lamb’s book of life, legalism is no longer a word that applies to me. Now the issue is my growth to become like Christ in character, and that takes diligence, self-control, discipline, faithfulness, sacrifice, commitment, and obedience. But whenever I talk about diligence, and self-control someone will inevitably wave the legalism flag. Every time it happens I think to myself, “no wonder there are so few champions for Christ!”
2 Peter 1:4-11 that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, . . .Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. . . . Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
Notice the use of the word diligence, twice in these verses. Also notice the progression of building character into your life by diligence. At the end of this passage is the very interesting phrase, “for in this way the entrance into His eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” What does that mean? “Abundantly supplied to you”. For sure it would mean that those who are less than diligent in pursuing character will not have their entrance into the kingdom abundantly supplied to them.
I spend a significant amount of time sitting and thinking about what that means, mulling over in my mind the difference there will be in eternity between being a person whose “entrance into the kingdom is abundantly supplied to them” as apposed to a person whose entrance into the kingdom is not abundantly supplied because of laziness, apathy, and lukewarmness.