The concern for most Christians isn’t “How far from sin can I get?” but rather, “How close is okay?” Anyone who is thoughtful about obedience and wants to distance himself from temptation and sinful behavior is sure to incite the charge of being “a misguided legalist” – as if the accuser knows what biblical legalism is. He usually doesn’t. But it sounds like a good “put-you-in-your-place” Christian comeback.
And often it works. The one pursuing holiness is embarrassed, while the libertines feel empowered to continue to banner their form of “grace” as an excuse for their compromise and their love of the world and the things of the world. Compare the familiar license of “do what you want, cause you’re forgiven” with this charge of one New Testament Christian to another: “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus… to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ… who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1Tim.6:13-15).
Unlike today’s attempts at “counsel”, this kind of “charge” doesn’t result in a casual and careless approach to sanctification. The goal is clearly not “as much fun as possible” but instead, “Let us reverentially pursue as much holiness as possible!”