Can't believe the legalism and religious spirit that I find all over America, and amongst the youth of today. Man, young people today are buying into it. Legalism is when you strive in your flesh to "do the God thing" but you aren't really redeemed from sin on the inside. It is the "leaven of the Pharisees" that Jesus told us to beware of. Why did he call it that? Because, like leaven, a little gets in and then it rises and affects the whole being like the whole loaf.
Amazing how you can hear about young people blowing their brains out taking dangerous drugs and indulging in dangerous sexual activity on one hand, and on the other there are young Christians preaching legalism - abstaining from all sorts of things to try to please God - striving in the flesh, not pursuing the power of God to get free from sin! It makes me want to throw my hands up in the air! It is so discouraging. So, I crawl into the secret place with Jesus, and draw from Him - hope and courage.
Additional notes: Many young people today love a life of self-discipline. They love dietary laws. They like self improvement.
An example of the thing that happens to people who find Jesus, but don't really find Him, instead find religion. (Jesus never intended that belief in him should produce the same thing that he fought against when he came up against the pharisees.)
I have a cousin who was living in the Chicago area during my turbulent twenties. I was traveling to the East Coast from Minnesota to live there, and stopped to visit her and her family on the way. She was raising some small children, and was very sweet. At the time she said she wasn't sure what she believed. Her husband was a Christian but she wasn't sure what her stand was. In that state she was open to me and loving.
Switch to today: she has now resolved her conflicts and become a Christian. She now rejects all attempts that I make to get in touch with her. She has barred me from her life. Now that we are older, and are both Christians, we should have an even better relationship than we had. The only sense I can make of this is that the "leaven" has gotten in. She likes the taste of judgment. She is now judging me as someone so bad she doesn't want to have anything to do with me. Self righteousness has crept in and grown. That is what happens to so many who profess faith in Christ. They become superior and judgmental - so far from mercy and love. It's amazing.
This is a call to avoid doing the same - to know Christ's love and to emulate it.