Home > Crossway Blog > Repenting of Righteousness

Repenting of Righteousness

When we’re overwhelmed by habitual and recurring sin, it’s tempting to create a strict set of rules to keep us in line. We write a signed and dated vow or we establish schedules to squeeze out room for sin. But legalism always seems to fail us. Soon we fall right back into old patterns. Colossians 2:20-23 says:

“If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations…these have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”

Only God can bring true and lasting change, because only God can change the our hearts. Jesus does what legalism can never do: he gives us a new heart and a new spirit.

From You Can Change by Tim Chester

December 28, 2010 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Crossway Staff @ 1:40 pm | (2) Comments »


  1. Not sure Im trackin with ya on this one….

    Yes, rules can be based in a heart of legalism – but not always.

    Call them what you want – perimeters, guidelines, walls – whatever.

    Dependence on the Lord for victory over besetting sins is the key.

    However, while depending on God, I am called to set a guard at the gate.

    Pray…and set a guard, as scripture instructs.

    A little more clarification may be necessary here, unless your intent is obscurity in the hope of clarity thru comments :)

    I encourage the reading of my friend’s book, Respectable Sins (by Jerry Bridges).

    As one Navigators leader in Africa once said, “the highest honor of a Christian is to repent of sin”.

    Comment by Chris — December 28, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

  2. Thanks for your comment and that’s another great recommended read. We definitely don’t want to discourage repenting of sin and seeking to kill sin (see “Overcoming Sin and Temptation”). This post is an encouragement to those of us legalists out there who may be tempted to overcome sin by our own methods and attempts at righteousness, which may lead to temporary pride when we think we’re successful and to despair when we fail. In both cases we need to be looking to Jesus. Bridges also has a helpful book out there (“The Bookends of the Christian Life”) that addresses this tension of law and grace, pride and despair, legalism and abuse of grace. Hope that’s helpful.

    Comment by Angie Cheatham — December 28, 2010 @ 5:06 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Comment