A low view of the law produces legalism, because the bar is so low that sinner’s feel justified in attempting to be made righteous by keeping it. A low view of the law also encourages sinners to substitute their own laws for the law of God, making self-righteous standards to live by, and judging others when they fail to live up to their own laws. Therefore, a low view of the law is the breeding ground for moralism where God is an utility to our self-righteous ends of moral justification (i.e., God helped me, not God rescued me).
Over the years, as I have heard different preachers and conference speakers, I have periodically heard a sentiment about expressing joy and worship. It was often expressed like this:
“When you’re watching a football game and your team scores, what do you do? You Cheer! You burst out of your seat and pump your fist and yell and clap and slap five with those around you!. So why aren’t you like that toward God? You should express that same kind of excitement and joy toward Him!”
Every time I heard it, it struck me as not quite right. I felt both a sort of squeamishness and a fair amount of guilt for not cheering for God (but not enough guilt to ever get me to actually do so.
Today, we are at war. Not with flesh and blood, but in soul. Our heart, soul, mind, and strength are in daily conflicts with the Cosmic Powers. How do you fight?
The Apostle Paul wants us to be catechized. We need a catechism—a gospel-driven catechism of victory.
Let us begin with a church history exam question. Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621) was a figure not to be taken lightly. He was Pope Clement VIII’s personal theologian and one of the most able figures in the Counter-Reformation movement within sixteenth-century Roman Catholicism. On one occasion, he wrote: “The greatest of all Protestant heresies is _______ .” Complete, explain, and discuss Bellarmine’s statement.