2001-03-09 - Rigorism
Isaish 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Are you a rigorist? I hope not. But I think that many rigorists, themselves, would say they aren't and that so and so is. Many who practice rigorism are blind to the fact that they have fallen into it. Rigorism is a term that is mainly out of use today, but its practice may have never been more common. Rigorism is the Pharisaical practice of self-righteousness.
Even the best that we can do in this life is incapable of pleasing God. If you don't believe this, you are a rigorist. This is because our status before God depends upon the work of Christ and not upon our own achievements. Our own achievements, outside of Christ, are as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) In Christ, we are capable of pleasing God, but it is only because of the work of Christ that this is possible.
It is the Holy Spirit that enables us to do the will of God. John 16:13 tells us, "But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come." As we depend more and more upon the Spirit to lead us in all truth we can begin to see the Bible not as a book of law and legalism, as a rigorist would, but as guide upon which we can base right actions.
It is easy to slip into rigorism or a pharisaical mindset. It is easy to look around us and say, "Thank you Lord that I am not like other people. I don't swindle others. I treat people justly. I don't cheat on my spouse. I am generally a good person." But, when we do this we have fallen into rigorism. The emphasis becomes upon our righteousness and not on the righteousness that we have in Christ. If you think I am being too tough, I will end with a passage from Luke 18:10-14...
"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer. The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, 'God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted."
Soli Deo Gloria,