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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : Are You Legalistic?

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Joined: 2008/10/30
Posts: 1977

 Re: How Long Will the War Against Legalism Last?

G. How Long Will the War Against Legalism Last?

It would be nice if all vestiges of self-righteousness were
eradicated from Christians the moment they were regenerated.

If believers entered the Christian life with a full and undistorted understanding of justification by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone, perhaps they would not struggle with legalism.

But that’s not what happens.

The believer’s sin penalty is paid and sin’s power is broken, but sin’s remnants remain to be battled.

Thankfully, saints do not battle alone. As the Holy Spirit renews their minds through the Word of God,they are enabled by His power to put to death the deeds of the
body and bear the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

One of these deeds of the body is self-righteousness, and the fruit of the Spirit includes humility.

For the entirety of his earthly sojourn, the believer will see lingering vestiges of self-righteousness in himself
and will be called to crucify them. More and more, the
growing Christian will learn to rest wholly in the imputed righteousness of the risen Christ.

Thus the fight against legalism is one in which every
Christian participates. The opening battle was won when the
Holy Spirit exposed the sinner’s failure to keep God’s laws,worked repentance in him, and enabled him to trust Christ for salvation.

That was the first time that the saint renounced his own righteousness as his legal basis for standing before God;
that was the first time that he instead threw himself upon the alien righteousness of Jesus Christ.

But the saint continually fights against legalistic thinking as he matures in Christ.

Sanctification means he appreciates more fully the comprehensive demands of God’s laws, the poverty of his own
righteousness, and the sufficiency of the Christ-supplied righteousness that he receives in justification.

Sanctification means he is weaned more and more from the vestiges of self-righteousness while relying more and more on the provision of Christ’s righteousness.

Oh, that we could repudiate legalism once and for all and
be rid of it forever!

But repudiating legalism is like repudiating
selfishness, impatience, idolatry, and unkindness.

Sanctification involves a lifetime of repudiating such things.

Continued and completed in the next post...

 2014/8/19 22:43Profile

Joined: 2008/10/30
Posts: 1977

 Re: The Remedy for Legalism

The Remedy for Legalism

The ultimate remedy for legalism is the same remedy for
many problems in the Christian life: appreciate more fully the Lord Jesus Christ and what He accomplished at Calvary.

I recall the day that a Jehovah’s Witness came to my home.
He presented a Watchtower monologue; I sat and listened.

When it was my turn to talk, I said,

“We disagree over what happened when Jesus Christ died on the cross.”

He seemed surprised by my words. I continued:

“There are only two possible ways of understanding what happened at Calvary.

I’ll set them before you, and you choose the one you think is true.”

He listened curiously so I continued.

“Do you believe this: that when Jesus died on the cross, He
made it possible for you to be approved by God, provided that you do your part?

Do you think that Jesus accomplished perhaps ninety-five percent of the task of making you righteous before God, but that now the ball is in your court? Do you think
that now you must do your part— now you need to add to what
Christ did so that God will accept you? Will your own good
works now make you righteous before God, and will your
refusal to do enough good works make you unacceptable before God? Is that what you think happened?

“Or do you think Jesus’ death on the cross secured and
guaranteed your approval before God? Do you think that the
Lord Jesus Christ fully accomplished all there is to accomplish regarding your acceptance by God? Do you think God’s Son did one hundred percent of the work in making you righteous before God? Do you think Jesus secured all the grace, love, and righteousness there is to secure, and now gives it all to you as a free gift?”

When I laid out these two options, the Jehovah’s Witness
didn’t hesitate for a moment. He said,

“I believe in the first scenario.Of course I have to do my part.”

Most Bible-believing Christians will see this man’s response for what it is: a bold affirmation of “works salvation” and a nullification of the gospel of grace.

This was high octane legalism,a legalism that intentionally brought good works into the matter
of justification.

But it’s not just Jehovah’s Witnesses that believe this.

I suspect that many in conservative salvation-by-grace-alone churches believe this as well— not as crassly or as openly as this Jehovah’s Witness, but they still believe it. They may not even fully realize that they believe it. They may affirm that they are saved by faith alone; in reality, they are relying partly upon their sanctification to make a contribution to their justification.

“We all automatically gravitate toward the assumption that
we are justified by our level of sanctification,” writes Richard Lovelace, “and when this posture is adopted it inevitably focuses our attention not on Christ but on the adequacy of our own obedience.We start each day with our personal security resting not on the accepting love of God and the sacrifice of Christ but on our present feelings or recent achievements in the Christian life.”

Then Lovelace adds this illuminating observation:

“Since these arguments will not quiet the human
conscience, we are inevitably moved either to discouragement and apathy or to a self-righteousness which falsifies the record to achieve a sense of peace.”

What is true for the Jehovah’s Witness is true for you: the
Lord Jesus Christ’s obedience is the sole basis for the sinner’sacceptance by God.

What could be more complete than the perfect
righteousness—earned painstakingly by the Son of God
over an entire human lifetime—that culminated in His death on the cross? Can you imagine how high Jesus’ “holiness score” was? It was off the chart; in fact, it was perfect.

So when God’s people stand before the Father, they have Jesus’ perfect righteousness as their own “holiness score.”

And now I’m going to do my part? I’m going to add to Jesus’
perfect righteousness? My quiet time will make me more
acceptable to God? My church attendance will earn me more
grace? Perish the arrogant thought that the feeble works of a sinful man can supplement what Christ did on the cross!

If I truly understand what Jesus did at Calvary, I’ll never try to add anything to what He accomplished.
If I truly understand what Jesus did at Calvary, I will come boldly to the throne of grace. I will approach the thrice holy God with full confidence that He accepts me— not because I had a good day but because I have a great Savior.

If I truly understand what Jesus did at Calvary, I will
understand that on my worst day, I’m still clothed in the righteousness of Christ and therefore am still accepted in the Beloved.

If I truly understand what Jesus did at Calvary, my joy will overflow— so much so that I will express it by obeying Christ.

Love for Christ and joyful gratitude will supply a far stronger motive for obedience than the desire to earn grace or somehow pay back God. I will present my body as a living sacrifice to God.

I’ll say with the old hymn writer Isaac Watts,

“Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”

The End.

 2014/8/19 22:55Profile

Joined: 2007/4/25
Posts: 1529
Scotland, UK


Quote: Do you want to be called great in the kingdom of heaven? Then know even the least of God’s commandments, obey them,and teach them to others.

Sniff, sniff - I smell legalism...

Quote: This is one of the ways that we are just like our great, great, great, great grandfather Adam. As long as the remnants of sin persist in us (which will be until the believer is glorified), we will be tempted to disobey God.

Wow - You can't make temptation a justification that we can't cant be set free from sin. Jesus was tempted in all points, was that because he had sin in him? Jesus walked this earth and was tempted in all points but sinned not...

He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked 1 John 2:6

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life Romans 6:22

What the quotes says is: You only be saved from sin when you die and are glorified...but scripture says, For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:22

Colin Murray

 2014/8/19 23:05Profile

Joined: 2010/7/9
Posts: 295
Canton, Michigan


Amazing! Thank you for sharing this!

David Fella

 2014/8/19 23:06Profile

Joined: 2008/10/30
Posts: 1977

 Re: So...Are You Legalistic?

Any others have a comment on this?

 2014/8/25 17:49Profile


It's not so much the rightness of my position that is all important, although I am a lover of the Truth and my very soul is cast upon it, yet the condition of my heart carries equal weight. What does it profit a man if he understands all the mysteries yet have not love in his heart?......bro Frank

 2014/8/25 23:24

Joined: 2008/10/30
Posts: 1977

 Re: sniff sniff

If you smell legalism in this article, you are the antinomian of whom the article speaks!

This article is well worth re-reading!

Let's stop dreaming, and keep watching and praying, as well as studying.

The church in america has an allergic reaction to the word obey.

A good book to read is "The New Tolerance" by Josh McDowell. Sin is openly tolerated, but His sent ones are not!

If you hate the garment stained by sin, and express such thoughts, you are labeled as judgmental and/or a legalist.

This article is very well balanced, and biblically correct.

 2016/11/11 8:48Profile

Joined: 2007/2/8
Posts: 1403


sorry wrong post

 2016/11/11 9:02Profile

Joined: 2016/6/4
Posts: 941
Johannesburg, South Africa


"Jesus’ perfect obedience to God’s commandments has ethical
implications for believers today. Christians are commanded
to live in the same manner that Jesus lived (1 John 2:5-6). We are to follow in Jesus’ steps, which means regarding Christ as our example (1 Peter 2:21). Christians are to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), who was the greatest law-keeper who ever lived on earth."

Not sure if the writer is encouraging believers to try and be law- keepers as well?
Jesus Christ IS the fulfillment of the law to us who believe.
The obedience we are called to is the obedience of faith.
A new commandment I give to you, said Jesus,that you love one another as I have loved you.
John said, this is the commandment, that you believe in the Name of the Son of God and that you love one another.
We don't obey The Law, we walk in the Spirit.
The demands of the law are met in Christ.
We have been given a new heart and a new spirit.
I am not anti the law but the law was anti me.
The rule that governs the Christian's life is the law of a New Creation.
"But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. As many as will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be on them, and on God`s Israel."


 2016/11/11 12:56Profile

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