I’ve been following Tullian Tchividjian’s passionate advocacy of the sufficiency of the gospel and the discussions he’s had with others who want to drive people to law for sanctification. Two people at our church have brought up Tchividjian’s latest book,Jesus + Nothing = Everything, so I thought it was about time I read it. This snippet is from a section of the book subtitled, “The Greatest Threat”:
The Bible makes it clear that the gospel’s premier enemy is one we often call “legalism.” I like to call it performancism. Still another way of viewing it, especially in its most common manifestation in Christians, is moralism. Strictly speaking, those three terms — legalism, performancism, and moralism — aren’t precisely identical in what they refer to. But there’s so much overlap and interconnection between them that we’ll basically look at them here as one thing.
And what really is that one thing?
Well, it shows up when we fail to believe the gospel. It shows up when behavioral obligations are divorced from gospel declarations, when imperatives are disconnected from gospel indicatives. Legalism happens when what we need to do, not what Jesus has already done, becomes the end game.
Our performancism leads to pride when we succeed and to despair when we fail. But ultimately it leads to slavery either way, because it becomes all about us and what we must do to establish our own identity instead of resting in Jesus and what he accomplished to establish it for us. In all its forms, this wrong focus is anti-gospel and therefore enslaving.
Tchividjian, Tullian.Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. Print. (p. 45–46)
I haven’t completed the book yet, but I’d recommend it on having read the first third of it alone.