preacherman

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Legalism

What does it mean to be legalistic? Do you know any legalistic Christians? Why do so many Christians feel comfortable in following law or rules? Why do so many Christians have a problem with grace? What does legalism do for Christians or the church? Is it harmful? How? Why? Can Chrisitans and churches change from a legalistic mindset to a grace oriented mindset? How? Have you seen a change within any Christians or Churches who were once legalistic and are now grace oriented? What happens to faith or relationship with Jesus when people follow the law or a set of rule? Is it easy to confuse conservatism with legalism? Why? Is there a difference? If so, what?

What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

37 Comments:

Blogger Stephen Phillip Porter said...

By grace through faith, we are saved, not of ourselves but the gift of God, not as a result of good works so that no one can boast. But we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we may walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Most people leave off verse 10 when they quote these verses because Paul is saying we're not saved by works; we're saved for works, which means the grace of Christ enables us to do good works. Works of righteousness, not sin (aka the law).

Don't get caught up in the legalism of a grace-only doctrine that minimizes the importance of obedience. "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:26).

But more importantly, Jesus says, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." (John 14:15)

God Bless!

Manifest Blog

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Wade Tannehill said...

Legalism is "do-it-yourself religion." It is "do-it-yourself salavation" and "do-it-yourself sanctification."

It may give lip service to what Christ accomplished on the cross, but then the cross is misunderstood as nothing more than an opportunity to save ourselves because we can check off all the right steps. Legalists believe that we can be righteous by roling up our sleeves and bearing down on it. The cross and the work of the Holy Spirit are obscured by the "What must I do?" question which gets all the attention.

Legalists give themselves away by never being able to say "I am saved by grace" without following the statement with an "if" or a "but."

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Ellen said...

Many conservatives are legalists but I don't think being conservative means one is necessarily a legalist. I have some conservative views bit don't consider myself a legalist. I'm interested in hearing what others think because more and more I find myself confused by the terms conservative and liberal. I consider myself conservative in that I believe we are commanded to love God before everything else and that is a very self sacrificial kind of devotion. My view of liberals is that they can be very good at the second command but not particularly concerned with the first.
Legalism leads to pride and/or discouragement. One either lives with the delusion of being very righteous or realizes they are not and maybe just gives up because it's impossible to be good enough.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Wendy said...

My view is that when someone makes the rule or the ritual more important than the faith, then that is legalism. In my experience it has been baptism. Those who declare that God will not and has not saved those who have been baptised "differently" from their understanding of baptism are putting rules and rituals ahead of faith.

Laws and rules are "safe". (Jesus is not safe!) They also appeal to our sense of self importance and self righteousness as we can be proud when we obey a command more perfectly than someone else.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous jim miller said...

It is easier to understand rules than to understand grace. And rules are necessary. However, without God's infinite grace we are lost because we have not kept the rules.

8:44 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Stephen,
Thank for you thoughts. I appreciate it. So are you saying that grace and works work together. If you over stress one or the other its not good. Balance key?

7:03 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Wade,
I appreciate your thoughts on this subject. I love your definition of legalism. Well said.

7:05 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Ellen,
I agree that not all conservatives are legalist but there is a danger of becoming legalist when taking a conservative slant on the Bible, God and religion.

7:07 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Wendy,
I like that fact the you mention safety. I never gave that much thought but think you are hitting on something. I think people want to feel safe. Lists and rules and rituals do help that alot for some. Thanks again for sharing.

7:09 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Jim,
Well said.
Thanks bro.

7:10 AM  
Blogger J.S. Brooks said...

How do we avoid legalism? Read everything Jesus had to say against the Pharisees, those famous poster boys for strict adherence to the rules, and that those admonitions to heart. Live in the joy that grace is a free gift to you from a loving God. Share that joy with others. Stick to the two great commandments: love God and love others (the vertical and horizontal). Follow Jesus and react positively to the urging of God's Holy Spirit.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

I think that preaching and teaching about rules and principles is about control. It took a long time for me (a recovering control freak) for me to understand that I loved rules because they gave me a sense of control.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Stephen Phillip Porter said...

I wouldn't say grace and works should be in balance so much because grace leads to works, but works can never lead to grace.

Works coupled with the fruit of the Spirit are the evidence of grace in someone's life. If someone believes that they are saved by grace and have no works to back that up, they're deluding themselves, just as much as the person trying to work their way to heaven.

9:34 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Stephen so true. Works can never lead to grace. Thank you for the statement and reminder.

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Linda said...

I believe Jesus was a liberal. He came to set us free from the chains of sin by grace. He shook up the "religious" world of His time. They definitely did not think Him conservative. I believe if we truly follow His footsteps then we too will not be "conservative", but will be rattling some cages by our love for others and their souls.

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