Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Legalism

“Legalism” is one of those emotionally-charged words that is often hurled at our church and other Bible churches and institutions  by Christians who should know better.

 

If you have read very much of this web site, you already know that we preach salvation through faith in God’s gracious gift of His Son on Calvary‘s cross. We do not believe nor preach that anything we do as Christians adds to our salvation or makes us worthy of God’s grace.

 

Grace is foundational to our salvation.

 

Ephesians 2:8-9 states “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” God demands His perfection if we would enter Heaven. Jesus  summarized and concluded His Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7 with this command. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.” Matthew 7:48  The only perfection we have is God’s righteousness which is imputed to us (put to our account) when we trust Christ for salvation.  That righteousness is given to us through God’s act of justification. The truth of justification is taught in Romans 3-5. 

 

In II Corinthians 5:21 the doctrine of justification is clearly summarized.  Follow along in your Bible as I paraphrase and amplify it.  ” For God the Father gave His perfect sinless Son, Jesus,  to shed His blood and die on the cross to bear all of our sins, paying the full penalty for them. He rose  again the third day so that through faith in Him we could be declared and made perfectly righteous, even as righteous as God Himself, and thus fit to live with Him in Heaven forever.”

 

Paul was a legalist until He met Christ on the Road to Damascus and was radically changed.  Read Paul’s testimony of his legalism in Philippians 3:4-6    Then read of the change that Jesus made in his life in the following verses 7-15.  As a Christian, he poured contempt on all his past efforts to attain righteousness and described it all as manure. When Paul received Christ, he ceased being a legalist.  So should every Christian.

 

 

Grace teaches us how to live the Christian life.

 

When we receive Christ as Saviour,  that is only the beginning of our Christian life. From that point on the grace of God takes on a new role.  It teaches us how to live a godly, holy life. Follow along in your Bible as we read Titus 2:11-15  “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldy lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto Himself a peculiar people (a people for His own possession) , zealous of good works. These things speak and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” 

 

From those verses we learn that a preacher’s work is not only to preach the Gospel of the grace of God,  but also teach Christian how to live according to the Bible, which is God’s Word.   II Timothy 3:16-17 shows us that all Scripture (from Genesis through The Revelation)  is given by inspiration of God and all of it is profitable to teach doctrine, to expose our sins,  to correct us and instruct is in living  the Christian  life.

 

So when we expose sin and teach Christians how to live victoriously and how to be faithful  servants of God,  we are not teaching legalism. Those who would charge us with legalism actually want freedom to live their own lives as they see fit.  They do not want any preacher confronting them with their sins. They think that God’s grace gives them freedom to live as they choose and reject the Lordship of Christ.  So they seek a church where the pastor will “tickle their ears”, that is, give them what they want to hear.

II Timothy 4:1-4

 

 

A Christian is legalistic if he requires man-made rules to be a good Christian.

 

Although we do not preach or practice legalism in our church,  there is a place for legalism in our lives.  As American citizens, though free, we are bound by the laws of our land.  We must drive no faster than the legal speed limit or we rightfully risk getting fined.  We must pay our taxes or risk going to jail.  As citizens we are surrounded by laws to protect us and  make life more pleasant for us as those laws restrict evil doers from taking advantage of us.

 

As loving parents we surround our children with rules about what they can do. Little ones are told what to do and what not to do and they are punished when they disobey.  At the same time we Christian parents should be leading our children to Christ and to the freedom that comes by living under the control of the Holy Spirit.  By the time our children have reached their teens, they should be so strong in the faith that their lives are directed more by God’s Word and by the convicting and leading of  the Holy Spirit, than by parental rules.

 

In our Christian school our students are surrounded by rules and regulations to enable them to be free to learn.  It is our desire that by the time our students have reached high school,  their lives  should be ruled by God’s Word and by the leading of the Holy Spirit to where they should not have to check the student hand book to see if what they are doing is right or wrong.

 

A pastor is legalistic if he preaches  man-made rules as the way to become a Christian or as the way to  live the Christian life.  It’s a preacher’s business to avoid legalism and  to declare what the Bible says about sin,  to show God’s way of victory over sin,  to teach  Biblical principles for living the Christian life and to warn of Satan and his strategies for defeating us.  If you want some Biblical information concerning the responsibility of a preacher, I encourage you to read  I and II Thessalonians,  I and II Timothy and  Titus.  These epistles as well as all of Paul’s epistles will help you understand the role and the message of a Biblical pastor. 

 

If your life thus far has been a struggle of trying to please God through your works, I urge you to turn from your self-righteousness and  turn to Christ who alone can make you fit for Heaven.  He alone can change your life and enable you to gain victory over sin.

 

May God bless you as you seek to live your life under the principles and standards of God’s Word.  May you allow the Holy Spirit to convict you of sin  and enable you to make the necessary changes in your life  so that you can live for Christ and serve Him, bringing glory to Him.  May His Word teach you how to walk in freedom and may He protect you from being burdened down with legalism.

 

June 8, 2007 Posted by | Legalism | Comments Off on Legalism