I used to think that legalism was externally imposed. I had recently read Bridges’ Transforming Grace and had begun to see the grip that legalism had on my life. My security in God’s love was not based solely on Christ’s imputed righteousness, but in my ability to meet a certain standard of performance in a given day or week. If I was obeying God and faithful in the word, I felt secure. If I had sinned in some way or forgotten to do my Bible reading, I was totally destabilised. I became insecure and unable to minister confidently until I had gotten back on track and succeeded in doing right for a period of time.
Around that time, John Vaughn shared a quotation from C. S. Lewis with me. This quotation resonated with my soul because it reminded me of the depth of my depravity. That encouraged me because I had come to realise that if my security was based on my performance, I would never be secure. But that if my confidence before God was in the righteousness of Christ alone, I need never be insecure, even when I had failed God… again.
No sooner do we believe that God loves us than there is an impulse to believe that He does so, not because He is Love, but because we are intrinsically lovable. The Pagans obeyed this impulse unabashed; a good man was ‘dear to the gods’ because he was good. We, being better taught, resort to subterfuge. Far be it from us to think that we have virtues for which God could love us. But then, how magnificently we have repented!
As Bunyan says, describing his first and illusory conversion, ‘I thought there was no man in England that pleased God better than I.’ Beaten out of this, we next offer our own humility to God’s admiration. Surely He’ll like that? Or if not that, our clear-sighted and humble recognition that we still lack humility. Thus, depth beneath depth and subtlety within subtlety, there remains some lingering idea of our own, our very own, attractiveness. It is easy to acknowledge, but almost impossible to realise for long, that we are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us.
—C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves: Charity
Mere flashes of reflected glory!
Grace to you.