Legalism and Life
For the past four articles I have written on the matter of legalism, and that will be so of this article as well. This will be the final one on this matter.
Just what is legalism. It is the adding of requirements to grace for the matter of salvation. Grace becomes no more grace (Romans 11:6). When someone tells you that the way of salvation is by grace, but then, you must be baptised, keep the law, do sacraments, abstain from alcohol, homosexuality, etc. to be saved; that is legalism. Now before some of my readers hearing this fly off the handle, let me say this. When you have been saved by the grace of God you will desire to be baptised, keep the law, partake of the Lord’s Supper, abstain from every appearance of evil, and turn from all sexual sin. It is not a requirement of salvation. It is expected that a steward be found faithful.
Those who say, “But we have liberty in Christ Jesus”; just let me say this: When you were in your sins, ie., lost, condemned, and dying; you were enslaved to sin. Sin was your master. You believed you were at liberty to live as you pleased then, but you were really under the control of evil. Now you want to say “I am free, I have liberty in Jesus Christ. I can live as I please”. When you have been set at liberty in Jesus Christ you are free from sin, but you are not free to sin. The freedom/liberty you have in Christ is the power to live a righteous life that glorifies our Lord and Savior. You do not desire to live in sin and rebellion against the Lord.
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” 2 Corinthians 3:17. Now, can someone tell me how the Spirit of God would lead anyone into sin? He will not. When we sin; He convicts us, and points us back to the forgiving, loving arms of our Lord and Savior.
Our Lord Jesus hates legalism. He despises it. He also hates sin, and does not want any of His disciples/followers bound up in it. Listen to the words He speaks to the scribes, and Pharisees. He first tells those who are following Him, “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say and do not.” Matthew 23:2-3 (KJV).
“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” Matthew 23:13.
Eight different times Jesus says, “Woe unto you”, and He is speaking of the same ones. These are supposedly the spiritual leaders of the Nation. Rather than shepherding they are condemning others and exalting themselves. Jesus’s words in this first woe is eyeopening itself. For these leaders Jesus says, “For you are not going in yourselves”, ie., the “kingdom of heaven”. OUCH!!! They are not going into the kingdom and they seem to want to keep their people from going in.
Each “Woe” which Jesus speaks in Matthew twenty three has to do with a different offense which these “Spiritual” leaders practiced. In the first one it seems the practice was one of condemnation. The second practice, is one of robbing widows, and pretending to be holy while they do it. The third is one of getting others to believe as they believe, and binding them in their condemning lies. Fourth, making loopholes around their “Oaths”. Fifthly, boasting of their tithing, but not practicing the other -”What does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8. Sixth, presuming a holiness they did not have; being clean on the outside, yet full of filth inside. Seventh, further clarification of the sixth – being full of “dead men’s bones; their lives and ministries are a stench in the nostrils of the Lord; and they certainly offer no hope or promise of the King of kings. The eighth, they make open portrayal of being in favor of the prophets of old, yet their hearts are more in line with their fathers, than with God or the prophets.
If they would have believed the prophets, they would have seen their King as He was teaching them. That is one of the saddest things about “Legalism”, and that is, that it blinds the eyes. The self-righteous are very legalistic, and are condemning of others whom they see in sin, and usually do not see their own. The legalist is dependent upon their own righteous conduct, and not the cross of Jesus. In Christ Jesus there is life. In legalism there is only death, tombs full of bones, and displeasure before our Heavenly Father. The only way of pleasure for the Father is through our faith in Jesus. Life in Jesus is a holy life.
-by Tim A. Blankenship