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cjk
Member



Joined: 2005/6/14
Posts: 4


 Legalism

I have been listening to a couple of well known preachers for a while now and have a lot of respect for both men. They were both pastors of their own church and I have no doubt that both are very Godly men. I have listened to coutless sermons given by both preachers, and although the content is very different, I have had no problem with either one to date. Both pointed me only to Christ! I also recognise that the Spirit had probably given them very personal convictions on the topics they were to teach about, remembering that their wisdom is surely a gift to be shared amongst the body of believers in that area.

However, today, whilst listening to some teaching, one of the preachers said he would rather be Legalistic than Worldly. I think he meant it in the context of knowing and living under grace, yet emphasising the need not to be part of this world, quoting from Jesus' Prayer for the disciples in John 17. Here Jesus likens them to himself as not conforming and living for this world.

"14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world."


The other demands that Legalism in the church is Satanic, it is a form of Witchcraft, and it is the church's biggest threat. He argues that legalistic followers are like those in the church of Galatia who have been 'bewitched'.

I'm struggling with this a bit; I recognise I am justified by faith, so are my efforts to remain obediant Legalistic? Temptation is inevitable, so
I ask
Are we holding hands with Satan when we are being Legalistic?, or are we just walking with extra caution?

Jesus also says to the disciples
"By standing firm you will win your souls."

Thanks
Christopher Joel

 2005/8/17 10:10Profile









 Re: Legalism

Legalism is NOT holding to a high standard of holiness. Legalism is saying "you must do this or you are not saved". Too many people think that if someone preaches against TV, or styles of dress (immodest) then they are being legalistic. That is NOT what legalism is. I think the guy you're referring to did not mean legalism in it's truest definition.

Krispy

 2005/8/17 12:00
KingJimmy
Member



Joined: 2003/5/8
Posts: 4419
Charlotte, NC

 Re: Legalism

I think the preacher you were listening to is a bit off in what he says. What many don't realize, is that [u]legalism [b]IS[/b] wordliness[/u]. It often creates pride, unmercifulness, coldness and the like. Such was the problems with the Pharisees. They thought the biggest matters of the law were things regarding cleanness and uncleanness, but Jesus told them that the most important matters were regarding justice, mercy, and faithfulness. They had setup so many additional laws to "protect" one from accidentally being unclean, that a racism towards the Gentiles was formed.

There is nothing wrong with having personal convictions on matters where the Scriptures are not specific, but when we start preaching things that are merely our personal convictions, and then teaching them to others, we run the risk of making our traditions of men the commandments of God... which can often be in great conflict with God's law.

Col 2:20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 [u]"Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!"[/u] 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)--in accordance with [u]the commandments and teachings of men?[/u] 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, [u]the [b]appearance[/b] of wisdom in self-made religion[/u] and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but [u]are of [b]no value[/b] against fleshly indulgence.[/u]

Paul says these man-made rules have the appearance of wisdom, but legalistic rules of "touch not, taste not, handle not" have no actual value against fleshly indulgence. These rules can only deal with outward things, and seldom get to the heart of the matter. They will never create a pure heart, or wash away one sin. All they do at best is whitewash tombs full of dead men's bones.


_________________
Jimmy H

 2005/8/17 12:26Profile









 Re:

Quote:
There is nothing wrong with having personal convictions on matters where the Scriptures are not specific, but when we start preaching things that are merely our personal convictions, and then teaching them to others, we run the risk of making our traditions of men the commandments of God... which can often be in great conflict with God's law.



Yep... I agree...

Quote:
Paul says these man-made rules have the appearance of wisdom, but legalistic rules of "touch not, taste not, handle not" have no actual value against fleshly indulgence. These rules can only deal with outward things, and seldom get to the heart of the matter. They will never create a pure heart, or wash away one sin. All they do at best is whitewash tombs full of dead men's bones.



Yep... I agree w/this too!

Krispy

 2005/8/17 13:04
saved_matt
Member



Joined: 2005/7/3
Posts: 233
Lancashire, England

 Re: Legalism

I agree with what has been written here so far, i'd just like to add some more scriptures from Romans 14

Rom 14:2-4 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

Paul here says that if some one decides to eat one way and has a brother who eats differently, neither has the right to impose his view on the other.

Romans 14:10-14 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for [b]we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.[/b] For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then [b]every one of us shall give account of himself to God.[/b] Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but [b]to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.[/b]

at the end Paul basically says it is a matter of personal preference, today this can be musical taste, TV or not to TV, personal dress etc... the crux of the whole discourse in this chapter though is in verse 8

For whether we live, [b]we live unto the Lord;[/b] and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

AMEN to that one!! [b]WE LIVE UNTO THE LORD[/b] thats why we should do as the Bereans did:

'they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.' Acts 17:11b

remember to pray for guidance in all situations and you will avoid the pitfall of legalism something I'm very aware of myself having fallen into it almost imediately after conversion but praise God He has opened my eyes and now i KNOW to ONLY Follow Him, Glory to Jesus for He set this captive free!! Hallelujah!!! ooo tell ye i love Him could go on like this all night :-D :-D:-D

matt


_________________
matt

 2005/8/17 14:48Profile
Christisking
Member



Joined: 2005/7/20
Posts: 671
Los Angeles, California

 Re:

Here my take on Legalism vs. Obedience - my understanding is that it has to deal with motive. If anyone think I am way off base - please let me know. This is the way I have understood it to this point, but am open to what others have to say.

When modern western Christians are told that they must obey the commands and teachings of Jesus and His Father, the word legalism pops into their minds. I think for a lot of people the meaning of Legalism is either not fully known, or perhaps misunderstood. I was tricked by a false teacher for years myself, and was guilty of confusing legalism with obedience. I think there is a common misunderstanding, but it is very important as Christians that we know what the difference between legalism and obedience, for two very important reasons. First, some of Jesus harshest words, were against Legalism. Jesus hated Legalism. The outspoken, bold rebukes that Jesus was so well know for and ended up getting him killed in a plot by the Legalist of His day, were revsereved for the legalists. Secondly Jesus put such high importance on obedience that the grace, mercy, and the salvation of your very soul depends on it. Obedience was so important to Jesus, and so fundamental to the Christian way of thinking and life of separation, that Paul, Peter, James, John, all are very clear on the point that obedience out of unimaginable Love for Jesus and His Father are required to continue to recieve grace, mercy, and salvation and finish the race recieving the prize in the end.

I am not saying that you are obedient so that you can receive grace, mercy, and salvation. You will never be able to do it. It will never happen no matter how hard you try if this your motive. This is in fact what Legalism is.

But that your obedience is proof of your total and all consuming Love for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Or to put it another way, no one with this total and all consuming Love for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, would ever be disobedient to Him or His Father. This is Obedience.

“If you love me, obey my commandments.” Jesus - John 14:15

It is very important that you very clearly and distinctly understand the meaning of and differences between these two words. Again Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John all agree that the very salvation of our souls depends on us knowing the difference. Knowing what Jesus had to say about legalism and disobedience, how many Legalist or disobedient people who call Him “Lord, Lord, Lord” or “claim belief” or “claim Christianity” do you think will be spending eternity in the presence of Holy and Righteous God?

“Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as `Lord,' but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. ” Matt 7:21

Knowing what Jesus taught and the example He gave for us to mold our lives after, how many holy, separated, cross-bearing, pure, self-denying, humble, righteous, meek, slaves and servants of the Master Jesus Christ do you think will be spending eternity with Him?

I can’t even begin stress how direly important it is to very clearly and distinctly understand the meaning of and differences between legalism and obedience. Don’t forget that Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John all agree that the very salvation of our souls depends on us knowing the difference.

Legalism is anything a person does in order to get to heaven or receive salvation, or as if under Law. This can be anything from

Doing 20 Hail Mary's,
Saying the exact same prayer over and over day after day night after night,
Animal sacrifice,
Praying or reading the bible a half hour everyday,
Tithing,
Caring for your personal temple,
Going to church every Sunday religiously,
Gnat straining,
Selling your house, cars, all your possessions and giving all the money too the poor, or even,
Trying to obey every law and command of Jesus,

Legalism is anything a person does in order to get to heaven or receive salvation, or as if under Law. Motive - That is the difference - Motive! Take for instance “Praying or reading the bible a half hour everyday” If you do this as a task, or as a chore you must do to be a good Christian and thus receive salvation, than even prayer and reading the Bible can be legalistic in motive and intention. On the other hand, if you pray without ceasing and thirst and hunger for the Word of God like the air you breath and the food you eat, than you are an faithful and obedient servant who has given out of love, all of your heart, and all of your mind and all of your desires to the will of Jesus and His Father in Heaven. When you put your Faith in Him you surrender your life to the will of your Master. This is true Faith. This is Faith that saves.

If Jesus is the all consuming love and desire of your Heart, than you prefer to live every second of your life as a slave and servant according to the desire of your Master Jesus Christ. People who have this all consuming love are meticulously obedient to their Master and lover of their soul Jesus Christ. True Christians are obedient out of their Faith, true love and desire to please Jesus even at their own personal expense or personal suffering, (Obedience) not out of their will to get into heaven alone, or in order to receive salvation or as a task one must do, or as a chore, or as if under Law.(Legalism)

You are not forced to have this type of Faith and love for Jesus, but the Bible tells us, if we don’t have this type of love for Jesus, than we are not worthy of Him and will not enter the Kingdom of God. It is like the guy I worked with about 10 years ago back in Ann Arbor. Although this guy would frequently get drunk and beat his wife, he claimed he really loved her. We all know that what his man called love is not real love. This man had a very warped definition of love and even though he really believed in his heart that he loved his wife, the fact still remains, that if he really loved his wife he would not continue to beat her. For this man to claim he loved his wife while his continual actions screamed otherwise, is proof he drowning in the water of his own dilutions.

The Apostle Paul Put it like this. Here are four Scriptures written by Paul.

“I am not one of those who treats the grace of God as meaningless. For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.” Galatians 2:21

"But no, you won't listen. So you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself because of your stubbornness in refusing to turn from your sin. For there is going to come a day of judgment when God, the just judge of all the world, will judge all people according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who persist in doing what is good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and practice evil deeds. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on sinning” Apostle Paul - Rom 2:5-9

“For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God's grace.” Apostle Paul - Galatians 5:4

“So since God's grace has set us free from the law, does this mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don't you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you have obeyed with all your heart the new teaching God has given you. Now you are free from sin, your old master, and you have become slaves to your new master, righteousness.” Apostle Paul - Rom 6:15-18

Is Paul contradicting himself in these Scriptures? Are the Romans Scriptures right or are the Galatians Scriptures right? If you believe that all Scripture is the inspired word of God your answer must be that both Scriptures are correct. In Galatians Paul is talking about Legalism. In Romans Paul is talking about Obedience. Paul is telling us that the difference between Legalism and Obedience is revealed by the motive or condition of our hearts - “trying to make yourselves right” (Legalism) “saved by keeping the law” .(Legalism) “choose to obey...your master” (Obedience) “obeyed with all your heart” (Obedience) “slaves to your new master, righteousness” (Obedience) The words of Jesus also back up what Paul is telling us “If you love me, you will obey what I command” Jesus also tells us that the motive or condition of the heart is love for Him. Now since all the Scriptures are true, and we have we words of Jesus which back up our assumptions, we can speak firm and bold as Truth and not opinion. We can soundly state that true Christians are obedient out of their true Faith, true love and heart felt desire to please Jesus even at their own personal expense or personal suffering, (Obedience) not out of their will to get into heaven alone, or in order to receive grace and salvation or as a task one must do, or as a chore, or as if under Law.(Legalism)

The choice is yours to make.

You can choose to drown in the water of your own dilutions

or

You can choose to live in Truth, love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your strength, all your soul ,and live in Faith and obedience to your Lord, Master, and Savior Jesus Christ.


“Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as `Lord,' but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. ” Matt 7:21

“If you love me, obey my commandments.” John 14:15

"So why do you call me `Lord,' when you won't obey me?” Luke 6:46

“He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke11:28

“He will give eternal life to those who persist in doing what is good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and practice evil deeds.” Romans 2:7-8


_________________
Patrick Ersig

 2005/8/17 15:06Profile
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

The classic centre for this discussion is Paul's letter to the churches of Galatia. The letter is a snap-shot of a process that the early church struggled with for some years. At the point of Paul writing Galatians the sides were still sorting out their positions but later on it became crystal clear that one group had made up its mind; “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1, KJVS) In our evangelical use of the phrase 'being saved' we may have obscured part of the issue here.

Krispy defines legalism as "Legalism is saying "you must do this or you are not saved". This is a start but I think we need to clarify it a little. Is Krispy saying 'you must do this or you are not save' or 'you must to this or you cannot be saved'. In other words is he saying 'if you are saved you will do this, and if you are not doing this you are not saved'? OR is he saying 'if you do not do this you will not become saved'? I'm sure you will tell us!;-)

However the Acts 15:1 could also be read in different ways. Is it saying 'if you have not been circumcised you can't possibly be saved' or is it saying 'unless you become circumcised you cannot become saved'? Hope you can see the difference. With the Acts 15:1 I can try to give a definite answer based on the forms of the verbs which are used. (now I know some will go to sleep at this point, but for the others...) I will try to keep it simple... the 'you cannot' is a present tense and signified 'it is not possible' but 'to be saved' is a Aorist Passive Infinity (thought it was, you cry) Well the significance is that this means something like 'it is not possible for you to [u]become[/u] saved. So we know where we are. At this point some had begun to teach that circumcision was a necessary prerequisite to salvation. This is legalism in it developed form, and we all say 'No' to this form of legalism.

However, earlier in Galatians, I am not sure that it had quite reached this stage of things. It seems from what Paul says that some were believing that although the starting of 'salvation' was 'by faith' progress in that salvation could only come about if you then began to keep the law. You might paraphrase this idea as 'justification by faith' but 'sanctification by works'. What does Paul have to say about this?“This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:2-3, NKJV) The churches of Galatia had begun to believe in 'justification by faith' but 'sanctification by works'; legalism.

The issue focussed on 'circumcision' but the underlying issue is wider than that. As soon as you say 'I must add 'x' to faith in order to please God' you into legalism. Here is an equation I have shared before
faith + 'x' = legalism
It does not matter how 'good' the 'x' is, if you add it to faith in order to please God you have stepped into legalism. When Paul wrote to the Romans he said “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace;...” (Rom. 4:16b, KJVS) This is a sentence worth remembering. God is determined to save us 'by grace' that is by His own free gift. This is why He has ordained that salvation is 'by grace' but 'through faith'. If it was anything else we would be able to say 'I contributed/earned that' but such a claim will never be heard. God has ordained that finding favour with Him will always be 'of faith' so that it can be 'be grace'.

It is the order of things which matters. 'by grace through faith brings salvation' and such faith is 'alone' but can never remain 'alone'. Genuine salvation will always express itself in obedience to God, but 'obedience to God' will never earn salvation. Not in its beginnings at conversion and not later in the walk. “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,” (Col. 2:6, NKJV) The way you begin is the way you progress. We have a saying over here; don't change horses mid-stream.

The tragedy of the Jewish people is expressed by Paul in Romans“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” (Rom. 10:1-3, NKJV) This is 'do-it-yourself salvation' and the 'seeking to establish' our own righteousness can never find favour with God.

However, on occasion, Paul had freedom of conscience to do some strange things. “So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow.” (Acts 18:18, NKJV)

“Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”
Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.” (Acts 21:23-26, NKJV)Was this 'legalism'? No, because Paul was not earning favour with God by these things; he simply chose to do them. “and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;” (1Cor. 9:20-22, NKJV) Not, we should notice, to win favour with God, but to win men for God.


_________________
Ron Bailey

 2005/8/17 16:20Profile
Valadar
Member



Joined: 2004/8/25
Posts: 17
South Africa

 Re:

I agree with you fully brother, ultimately when it comes to obedience it must come from the heart, and I truly praise the Lord for the encouragement recieved thru you. It is all about the heart, all our good deeds, all of everything we try to do is void, unless its in love.

As the Word says(1 Corinthians 13) "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge;and though I have all faith, so that I can move mountains and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."

As you said philologos with out the heart in obedience, no matter how good the deed it is in vain.

So let us take this truth and run with it living in it everyday always in the Lord.

I must say I an a newbie to the forums but I really praise the Lord that I can participate with you guys

Blessings in Christ our Lord always
Craig
:-) :-) :-D


_________________
Craig

 2005/8/19 4:45Profile
letsgetbusy
Member



Joined: 2004/9/28
Posts: 957
Cleveland, Georgia

 Re: Legalism

Legalism is the upholding of a non-Biblical tradition. Notice the only ones that Jesus really blasted in the Scriptures were the legalizers. If He handled them that way, isn't it obvious how we should handle the concept of legalism?


_________________
Hal Bachman

 2005/8/19 5:22Profile









 Re:

Perfect point letsgetbusy.

Jesus only did "blast" the "Self-Righteous".

But the hardest teachings to do or have understood is - "Walk in the Spirit" and that "Love is the fulfilling of the Law".

I did a thread on the Necessity of Love for salvation, and it sunk to page 2 with no replies, even though I posed the Title as a "question" ... "Is God's Love, active in us, necessary for Salvation ?"

It is, as I said, also equally difficult to teach and learn to "Walk in the Spirit".

That Truth is gone, somewhere's (?)

If we "walk in the Spirit", we are doing all that the Lord would do. It won't be "us" doing it ... so HE gets all the Glory ....

but we plod along, acting and moving from our own self-life, and it's says 'those' acts, are fire wood to God, because they are 'our' works.

The "self-righteous are any who walk after their own inclinations (flesh).

When "flesh" is mentioned so many times in the N.T., it is not always talking only about blatant 'sin', but 'any' deed that did not originate from the Holy Spirit and carried out IN Him. Flesh is just "us".

To walk in the Spirit, is "None of us and all of Him".
It's HIM, living His life (and desires) THROUGH us.

When it's "no longer "I" that lives, but HIM ..."

When we're continually waiting upon Him and totally dependent on 'HIM', for every next move or action or word and even our thoughts.

All of HIM and NONE of us. When "we" are crucified with/for Christ.

We can be as He was, in this world, and not by "self-effort", but because we've died to self and have allowed Him to lead and guide continuously... And perform the (His) action 'through' us.

The self-righteous "ACT" (as in action), but the 'action' did not originate, nor was it generated by His Spirit working in union with ours and our mind and body complying to that control we 'can' give HIM.

We are born "self" active ... and it is difficult for us to 'let go' of what comes 'naturally' and to die to that and let Him [u]totally[/u] control and allow Him to live His Life through us. For that means death to 'self-will'.
What "we" Want to do !

It's not a question of Legalism or no legalism ... but whether any of us are "Walking in the SPIRIT" or walking in the (natural man) flesh.

The problem is "we" think and then "we" act.
What's that ?

And whatsoever is born of flesh, is not of God...
even if it's good words or deeds.

We can only pray for understanding, that #1 We see that the 1st Commandment IS necessary for Salvation and to ask our God to help to show us what "walking in the Spirit" is, and be willing to die to ourselves, so that HE can Live through us.


Be Blessed in the workings of 'Jesus' only.

Annie

 2005/8/19 6:56





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