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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Legalism

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Joined: 2009/3/17
Posts: 308
Central Alberta, Canada


I do not know if I have posted this here in its entirety; I have searched and have not found it.
If by chance that I have posted it here in its entirety, then please forgive my indulgence.


Let me start this by quoting another:

[i]"Legalism is like a disease. It is both highly contagious and deadly. It can go undetected and show no fatal symptoms for a long period of time. In the end, however, it always pays its toll. I’ve never heard anyone stand up and boldly proclaim, "I'm a legalist!" If someone realized they were bound by legalism they would surely put an end to it. Unfortunately legalism is very blinding. It's easier for a sinner to realize he is a sinner than for a legalist to realize he is a legalist. As long as we can’t identify what legalism is, it can keep us in its bondage.

Legalism is oftentimes very hard to recognize and can be hard to distinguish from true holiness. This is because the actions of the legalist, and the actions of someone who possesses true holiness are generally the same. The difference is the motive of the heart. One’s motivation is to save themselves, or keep themselves saved, while the other’s motivation is to please the One who died for them..." (Jason Dulle)[/i]


...One does work out of compulsion in bondage (no joy - not born again), and the other out love that the Holy Spirit brings in our hearts (much joy and full of glory...a well of living water springing up into everlasting life.) [b]We are the recipients of mercy and grace, not of wages.[/b] The difference is being Born-Again and Phariseeism, which is the behavior of a sanctimonious and a self-righteous person.
...or Relationship vs. Religious Compulsion.

Righteousness before God has already been purchased for us. Righteous living is something that we do because we are born of the Holy Spirit, and we submit ourselves in obedience to the Holy Spirit, who by the Grace of our Father in heaven, leads us into holy living, a work not of compulsion or of ourselves, but of love that is born of God, which is in our hearts.

Paul said in Philippians 3:6-8 “concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ”

The law of God requires works of righteousness, so why would Paul discard his righteousness in the law...(works in the Law) if he were so perfect in it?

Romans 3:21-22 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.

How is the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus work to bring righteousness anyway?

The answer is very simple actually, well not to everyone, just those to whom the Father will show this to. It is because Jesus took away ALL my sins forever, and in the absence of sin the Law is fulfilled.

So, Here is a question:

If a person were completely sin free in their life (because Jesus washed away the sins), would the righteousness or holiness that the Law of God requires be fulfilled?

The answer is yes, because in the absence of sin the law is fulfilled!

So...if Jesus took away all of my sins after repentance and giving my life to Him, and I am blameless before God and sin free, do I fulfill the righteousness or holiness that the law of God requires?

The answer is yes; I fulfill the righteousness that the law of God requires because I have no sin in Jesus...because Jesus took and washed away my sins and nailed them to the cross! ...I am therefore sin free before God and fulfill the righteousness that the law God requires. This is what is meant by the righteousness by faith and NOT by works!!!

So then the righteousness that the Law of God requires, is fulfilled in every single person who comes to Christ Jesus. This is what it means that Christ is the end of the law and that He fulfilled the law. This is the righteousness which is by faith, and not by the works of the Law of God.

Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.

31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

How is the Law established?

The Law is established because there is no more sin to deal with, because Jesus took the sin away, and in the absence of sin the Law is Fulfilled, …yes it is established! This is the righteousness that is by faith, and not by the works of the Law.

Romans 5: 1-2 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

The very reason that Christ came into the world was so that He could free us from sin and the consequences of sin, and more then that, so that we could become a new creation in Christ Jesus. And in the absence of sin, which is through the cross of Christ, the Law is fulfilled.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (King James Version)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

[b]What about Holiness and Holy Living....hasn't the Lord said you must be Holy for I am Holy?[/b]

[b]Holiness becomes you...[/b]

God truly wants the repentance of man, for man to make a volitional choice for openly repent before Him and to follow Him, to Call upon Him...

He wants good works towards Him based on a loving personal relationship from the heart, and not on good works based on a reliance of oneself… or in ones' ability to live holy by following a given set of rules – and yes there is a difference.

Yes, there are moral rules and guidelines to follow and understand, but they are only to instruct me in the ways of righteousness and holiness as I seek Him inwardly, and personally and they teach me of the nature of Jesus.

The scriptures give me an understanding of the nature of Him who has called me out of this world to be His son, to a new life in Him which is hidden in Christ Jesus - the Holy Spirit bears witness to this truth.

His good works in me (holiness) comes, not based on my own understanding of what true holiness is, but rather based on the inner workings of the Holy Spirit in my life since I accepted Him, and it is in my yielding to Him in all things in obedience, and not on my adherence to or on reliance of myself to seek His favour by doing good works (what I perceive as holiness). It's not what I can do, it's what He does and can do through me.

Because I love Him in the very pit of my soul, and am truly born of Him, I will seek out those things that always please Him, I will hate the things that He hates, and I will love the things that He loves...if only that I may have just one moment, just one moment in time that I may truly glorify Him in this earthly body…and this I will do as His Holy Spirit who is within me permits, and teaches me all things.

Does this mean that I will never make a mistake and never sin again? it does not. I hope that I never sin again, but if I do, I know I have an advocate with the Father who is Jesus Christ the righteous. I know that if I acknowledge my sins before God, that He is faithful and just to forgive me and to cleanse me from ALL unrighteousness. And I dare say to anyone that I need to have works in order to be forgiven, nothing but the precious blood of the Lamb can erase sins.

The bible teaches me that: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. Galatians 6:15

Hence and therefore my salvation is not based upon me believing that my good works toward Him (personal holiness) will save me (or even merit me any favor at all), but rather on a TOTAL surrender of my life to Him, and upon a reliance on Him for my holiness and righteousness, that He who has begun a good work in me will complete it until the very day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

I just need only to yield to Him, I just need only to yield to Him and say yes Lord Jesus, yes Lord...have your way in me and be glorified in me, let me be obedient to you through your Holy Spirit.

And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. Romans 6:13

Those who are truly born of the Spirit of God and are led by Him will indeed mortify sin in their earthly lives, whose hearts are right with God.

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Romans 8:12-17


 2009/12/23 3:01Profile

Joined: 2008/4/12
Posts: 1306
Hampshire, UK

 Re: Legalism

This is a good presentation of righteousness by faith and living out this righteousness by the Spirit. Thank you.

His good works in me (holiness) comes, not based on my own understanding of what true holiness is, but rather based on the inner workings of the Holy Spirit in my life since I accepted Him, and it is in my yielding to Him in all things in obedience, and not on my adherence to or on reliance of myself to seek His favour by doing good works (what I perceive as holiness). It's not what I can do, it's what He does and can do through me.

I like this!:-)

A very good message by Zac Poonen about the danger of legalism and worldliness is 'Three marks of the New Covenant Life'. He shows that they both use the law in the flesh rather than the Spirit. See link below.


 2009/12/23 5:54Profile

 Re: Legalism

One’s motivation is to save themselves, or keep themselves saved, while the other’s motivation is to please the One who died for them..." (Jason Dulle)

Oh man that was nice to read. Thank you for sharing that.

 2009/12/23 8:38

Joined: 2009/6/14
Posts: 703

 Re: Legalism

Wonderful post, Earendel! It covers all the essentials of true rebirth and navigates beautifully through the difficult concepts of salvation by grace. Everyone should read this. Thank you.

 2009/12/23 10:51Profile

Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 2012
Joplin, Missouri

 Re: Legalism

Earendel: What an awesome post. I was blessed as I read it.

Php 3:9-10
(9) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
(10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

Praise God that my righteousness is through faith in Christ.



 2009/12/24 8:58Profile

Joined: 2009/3/17
Posts: 308
Central Alberta, Canada

 Re: The New Covenant

Now, concerning the law or the old covenant.

Please read:


The new covenant, not written on tablets of stone, but as the Lord has said: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts.

The old covenant was done away with, that He says - He has made the first covenant obsolete, in that it was weak through the flesh, and replaced with the enabling power of the Holy Ghost for Godly living.

Please read in conjunction with what I wrote about in the opening post.

I made the following response in another thread, but I do not know how to make a link a link to it.

Please forgive the length of the following post, I know how hard it is to keep track of these sometimes.

It is of the utmost importance that we keep our hearts right before God, but how do we do that? (just decide in your heart that you will just love Him no matter what) Is it in what we say, or what we do, or both? A heart that is right before God submits to obedience, which is the essence of a pure heart.

I believe The Apostle Paul teaches us that God can and will give us all joy and fulfillment in our souls that we need, especially in the time to come. Be filled the Holy Spirit who completes us, and no longer indulge the senses of the flesh to excess.

Ephesians 5:18 (New King James Version)

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

I believe what the Apostle is saying is:

Instead of getting drunk with wine and indulging the senses, rather to be filled with the Holy Spirit who completes us. The Apostle Paul was not likening the infilling of the Holy Ghost with drunkenness or being drunk, but rather a turning away from the works of darkness and to be filled with the Holy Ghost who completes us, and fills that void in our souls. Has not the Lord Jesus said: "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14

In the beginning I believe Adam walked with God, where his body was filled with God's Holy Spirit - there was a communion there. God's Holy Spirit filled a part of Adam that completed him (Shekinah) and made him unique in creation, which made him the living temple of God.

Adam lost this when he, through transgression, fell. The Shekinah Glory of God lifted from Adam, the same way that the Shekinah Glory of God lifted from the Jewish Temple (the physical one before it was destroyed in 70 AD).

Since the fall of Adam, our race has sought to fill “that missing part” that incompleteness in us, by indulging in the senses of the flesh. And without the Light of God (the Holy Spirit, who was, and now is the majestic presence or manifestation of God in man) man would grow exceeding dark and sinful (which is what happened), for without light, there can only be darkness…and if the light of your eye is darkness, then how great the darkness.

...but we are no longer in darkness (that is to say without the Holy Ghost and the grace of God)

Ephesians 5:8 " For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light"

This indwelling Shekinah presence of God in His temple is something that was always meant for man, we were created for this purpose - we are (that is our bodies) "living temples" of the Holy Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 10
1 For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
2 and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3 and did all eat the same spiritual food;
4 and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ.
5 Howbeit with most of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
9 Neither let us make trial of the Lord, as some of them made trial, and perished by the serpents.
10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured, and perished by the destroyer.
11 Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come.
12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

Now consider that they did not have the Holy Spirit who gives power for Godly living.

John 7:39
39 But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified.

And what judgment do you suppose will be to us to whom the Holy Spirit has been given? This is not to say that we will not fail/fall from time to is God's grace that saved us, AND IT WILL BE GOD'S GRACE THAT KEEPS US.

The Church received power for Godly living and testimony on Pentecost - and it is through the righteousness and grace of God that the free gift of the Holy Spirit is given, even to us, who through obedience to the faith in Christ Jesus are made righteous by His shed that He took away our sins, and in the absence of sin, the righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled; therefore, the Holy Spirit could come. It was not until Jesus Christ had ascended to the Father, after His resurrection, that the Holy Ghost could be given - which is the promise of the free gift.

An understanding given by the Lord Jesus Christ to me:

The power of sin is in the Law (as delivered to Moses), and the wages of sin is death...for through the Law, I have knowledge of sin and sinned revived and I died. (This is the Law of sin and death)

But the law has no power over me anymore...and why does it have no power over me?

... it is because I have no sin...and because I have no sin, I am not under the law.

If I had sin, the law would have power over me, and I would be under the law, but now I have no sin and am therefore not under the law.

Is this a heresy? No it is not, let me explain.

I have no sins because of the Blood of the Lamb ...that Jesus took my sins away and nailed them to the cross (I am crucified with Christ). When God looks at me, He sees only the blood of the Lamb applied to the door posts, not my sins. (This is the sinless perfection I am referring to) God sees no sins through the blood of the Lamb! Now, is the blood applied to the doorposts? ...this is what should be asked about.

I am not saying that I have obtained sinless perfection in the flesh, or cannot be tempted to sin, nor that I am sin free and without fault in my life, I have many faults...I am saying that only through the cross of Christ I have no sin, because Jesus took them away with His death on the cross.

Whether you accept this or not, this is sinless perfection! ...yet not by works of the flesh, but only through faith in Jesus Christ. (righteousness by faith) This is not so hard to understand. So I then, fulfill the law of God by being sinless, just as He commands, yet not by works, but by faith in the cross of Jesus Christ to forever remove my sins – righteousness by faith and not by works.

But righteousness by faith came for a purpose...even a new creation, which God has through the Holy Ghost birthed in me. Just as it is written: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

And this is why the Holy Ghost could be given freely to us:

"Where there is no sin, the Law of God cannot condemn, but is fulfilled."

Jesus Christ, with His own blood entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption for us. It was not until sin was removed (through the cross of Christ), and the righteous requirements of the law were fulfilled (absence of sin), that the Holy Spirit could come, who wrote the laws of God on our hearts rather than on tablets of stone...even as it is written "I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds."

But I cannot refer to the judgment of God without referring to His great and tender mercies for humanity (of whom I am the largest recipient of His grace)...because as it is written God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

And I am not talking about sinless perfection (in this life) here (we still have to deal with Eph 6:12 on a daily basis which is NOT the sinful nature), but they will be taken out of the way soon enough as per: Revelation 12:7-10

... but I am referring to the way into the Holiest of All, the very presence of God (the Holy Ghost in us) - the Divine life (nature), which God in his mercy has freely given to us (the embryo or seed of God in us) the God life, the new creation, the new birth, the new man.

1 Corinthians 15:47-49 (New King James Version)
47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. (and the heavenly man was NOT sinful)

Romans 8:9 (New King James Version)
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

We really need a true revival of the Holy Ghost...and we need a functioning body (Ephesians 4:11-13)

And a revival does come and soon now...and what do you suppose is going to be the end result?

it comes...during the Great Tribulation

Much glory awaits us...

Romans 8:18
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

....but then comes true revival on a global scale when that Grand Old Mansion, that glorious House/Temple of God (who we are), is rebuilt, so the the glory of the latter end of the house will be greater than the former.

Because there is no accuser standing before God accusing us, Ephesians 6:12 will end for us, and so will all the works of the devil as pointed out above. But persecution at the hands of those who take the mark of the beast will occur.

Even as Christians, He has not rewarded us according to our works.

God has not rewarded us according to our ways, nor has He recompensed us for our backsliding, and I am witness to this because I fell short of His Spirit's work and was a prodigal son. But He called me while I was in bondage to sin, and broke the curse. He broke the shackles that held me in bondage to sin and disobedience and shattered the teeth of the devourer for my sake. He gave me repentance to eternal life which caused me to be broken, humble and contrite before Him, (truly, Godly sorrow swallowed me up) - God is my witness.

In the midst of my brokenness and repentance before Him He came to me, and forgave me. His Spirit overshadowed me and He renewed a right spirit within me. The scales of sin fell from my eyes, and I began to see with perfect light. He has called us to Himself because He is very merciful and forgiving.

edited for content.


 2011/2/2 2:27Profile

Joined: 2009/1/18
Posts: 13

 Re: Legalism

I dont remember who it was that i heard say:

We sometimes mistake legalism for obediance.

What a provoking thought that was to me.


 2011/2/2 17:54Profile

Joined: 2011/1/30
Posts: 17


Milt Green said, "Obedience is not Legalism".

 2011/2/2 18:24Profile

Joined: 2010/4/19
Posts: 447


What legalism is:

Anything that is done or not done out of fear of judgement.

That's my personal definition anyways :-)

In Christ,
Earl J

 2011/2/2 20:53Profile

Joined: 2006/9/13
Posts: 3172


Legalism is infringing what God has shown you upon others.

 2011/2/2 20:57Profile

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