Monday, February 22, 2010

Legalism Exposed

  • Being under law invariably leads to becoming judges with evil thoughts rather than ministers of reconciliation through grace and truth (Prov. 3:3-4; John 1:17; 2 Cor. 5:21).
  • Being under law leads to a weak conscience for whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23). This does not disavow what Scripture decrees to be sin. But it does not endorse those enslaving beliefs and commandments of men who turn from the truth (Gal. 1:6-9; Col. 2:20-22) who make being right before God into what they themselves decree it to be (Rom. 10:3-4).
  • Being under law leads to self-righteousness (Rom. 2-3). The Apostle Paul though a blameless Pharisee was smitten with that sin until his own encounter with Jesus Christ on the Damascus road. Afterwards though he never again claimed his own righteousness, having seen his own sinfulness, he received the grace of God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Consider Phil. 3:3-11; 1 Tim. 1:13-17).
  • Being under law leads to wrath. Both God’s and mans (Rom. 4:14-15). God’s because He cannot justify us by our own obedience to it, mans because we can in no way be justified by it (i.e. we cannot obey the law to earn eternal life through it, Gal. 2:16, 19-21; 3:21-25; 4:21-31; 5:1, 4-5 etc.).
  • Being under law invariably leads to arrogance and self-deception because trusting ones own righteousness will lead to despising sinners, and is as Jesus warned unjustifiable (Luke 18:9-14).
  • Being under law leads to condemning others. Invariably we see others through the eyes of judgment and failure and not grace and truth (Matt. 9:9-13; John 1:17; 8:1-12; James 2:13). It is unlikely then we will love them as ourselves, or do to them as we would have done to us, as Jesus commanded (Matt. 7:12). But rather in our misguided zeal we will forget our own sinfulness, that Christ’s Kingdom’s priority is mercy not judgment (Matt. 5:7; John 3:16-17; James 2:13). That God's love and grace was given to us while we were still dead in our own trespasses and sins (Rom. 5:8), through Christ's crucifixion death, which saved us and led us into a new life of faith, hope and love (Rom. 6:13-14; 5:8; Eph. 2:1-10).
  • Being under law leads to despising others (or even oneself if you've been brought up in an environment where shame is used to punish failure). Which often keeps us from sympathizing with people in their own weaknesses and shortfalls (Rom. 3:23). Calling them to repentance from their sins through the grace of God given to us all by faith in Jesus Christ which alone makes us righteous in the sight of God. Rather then just calling them sinners (Rom. 3:19-28; 4:4-5; 5:1; James 4:4-10).
  •  Being under law does not embrace the restoration of fallen sinners; who turn from their sins and turn or seek to return to God (including those who sin against us) which is contrary to both Jesus Christ’s commandments and God the Father’s will (Luke 15:11-32; 17:3-4; Gal. 6:1-2).
  • Being under law leads to isolation. The Pharisees were separatists, though leaders of the Israelite old covenant community. They isolated themselves from healthy contact within the greater community in their attempts to be "pure". In contrast the Lord Jesus though moved freely in the community and engaged all people without restrictions (Luke 7:36-50).
  • Being under law hinders humanity from experiencing genuine love from God and with each other, which makes repentance and relationship with God something to embrace rather then shun or fear.
  • Being under law in the New Covenant can lead to emotional problems and spiritual disorders (2 Cor. 11:3-4 NKJ; Gal. 1:6-9; Col. 2:8-10; 20-22).
  • Being under law does not liberate sinners from sin but rather through the fleshes weaknesses arouses it (Rom. 7:5, 8; 1 Cor. 15:58). Only regeneration; that is being born-again by faith in Jesus Christ through the grace of God liberates us from sin (2 Cor. 5:17, 21; Titus 3:4-7).
  • Being under law in the New Covenant leads to fear of judgment. Not grace based courage to face our sins and problems and overcome them (1 John 4:18-19; Rev. 3:19-21).
  • Being under law often leads to justifying horrible atrocities. No greater example of this is the attitude of the Scribes and Pharisees dedication to the law which ultimately made them hostile towards the Lord Jesus Christ as they became more and more ardent in their evil minded zeal to betray Jesus when He would not be silenced by them, even to the point of Christ's death on a cross.  
  • Being under law means working to find Gods approval through it, which can never be attained by sinful humanity. For the law does not require a certain amount of obedience to it to be approved before God by it; but total obedience to it (Lev. 18:5). "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." James 2:10   Therefore trying to be justified by the law or mans own legalistic regimes in the New Covenant leads to anger at God and others, rather then love towards Him who is Love (1 John 4:15-21). For God cannot accept a person based on their own merits, since the law confines us all under sin (Rom. 3:19-28). Therefore working for salvation means one only acquires debt, not grace in their attempts to become approved before God.  For it is by faith in Jesus Christ alone, crucified and risen from the dead that we are justified in the sight of Almighty God. "Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness" Rom. 4:4-5 Therefore living obediently to the Lord Jesus Christ by keeping His commandments is a by product of receiving God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not as a means to it.
  • Being under law destroys creativity and individuality. Yet in the N.T. neither individuality or creativity is forsaken in the pursuit of holiness, righteousness, peace and unity (1 Cor. 12:4-6; 27).
  • Being under law suppresses healthy laughter and carefreeness. Nonetheless all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are accepted in the Beloved, (Eph. 1:6) and are sealed for the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30). Therefore being under law brings fear of rejection which does not allow individual personalities to express themselves in their own uniqueness in accord with the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
  • Being under law hinders genuine heartfelt worship of God. Instead of liberating people's hearts to praise God according to the fruits of the Holy Spirit it often confines worship of God to following the worship traditions of men (John 1:17; 4:24).
  • Being under the law is the antithesis of being free in Jesus Christ and living out the glorious liberty of the children of God (2 Cor. 3:5-6; 3:17).
  • Being under Law invariably leads to injustice and hypocrisy. Concealing one’s own sins to maintain the false front before others, even if it means destroying ones neighbor to do so (Matt. 7:1-4).
  • Being under law very likely means you will become a Pharisee towards the very people you yourself used to be. Nobody who remains dedicated to law will find their heart yearning for the return of repentant sinners to God. But those who live by the grace of God will always hold out hope for their return.
  • Being under Law often leads to being excessively dogmatic, Job's three friends are a Biblical example of that error.
  • Being under Law means you only accept those who have lived good, clean lives in the church as being acceptable to God and thus qualified for His service. Which flies in the face of God's election of individuals by His grace to both salvation and His service as in the case of the Apostle Paul.

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