© Rosemary Bardsley 2016


[Alternative: Where has all the joy gone? Answer #2: Short-circuited by the clouds of criticism; lost in the labyrinth of legalism]

[Notes on Legalism:

[1] Legalism: is when we believe that we are acceptable to God because of our conformity to the Law.

[2] How does Legalism express itself?

(1) We demand of ourselves a certain standard of piety or performance.

(2) We demand of others a certain standard of piety or performance.

(3) When we or others do not confrom to that standard we hold them our ourselves accountable.

(4) We become more demandingn and critical than God himself and may even end up critizing God.

[3] Legalism can be very blatant or very subtle.]


We will be looking at Luke 15:11-32 and Matthew 18:21-35

Luke 15:11-32

A. The father's joy

B. The younger brother's joy

C. The older brother's problem

A. The Father's Joy


B. The younger brother's joy


C. The older brother's problem





Did he feel that he merited his father's love by always doing right? by his hard work?


Let us each ask ourselves: to what extent am I this elder brother?


Matthew 18:21-35

We have here a terrible warning.

We read here of an incredible failure, an incredible attitude.

A. The servant's destitution

He has an incredible debt.

He has nothing with which to pay.

He faces a terrible penalty.

So he asked for time to make good the debt.


B. The King's Compassion

The King understood both the size of the debt and the servant's destitution, he knew the servant could never pay.

The King did not grant the servant's request for time; rather, moved with deep compassion, he completely cancelled the debt, and revoked the penalty.

C. The servant's failure

He hasn't understood that the debt is actually cancelled. He still acts as one who needs money to pay the debt.

He has no joy.

He is still working with a tit-for-tat mentality.

He has not actually received the forgiveness that was provided.

He does not see himself as forgiven, and he therefore cannot forgive.


Let us again ask ourselves:

How much am I this joyless, unforgiving, legalistic servant, who demands of my fellow servants more than my King demands of me? and who refuses to treat them with the same compassion with which my King has treated me?


We all stand accused by the elder brother.

We all stand accused by this joyless servant.

Let us each one repent of this legalism which robs us of joy, and ask the Father to deliver us from it.