Legalism

Check Your Christian Liberty

“Christian liberty.”

What does that bring to your mind? Perhaps you’re thinking of those Facebook debates over the Christian’s use of alcohol or arguments over personal standards. Perhaps it conjures bitter memories of judgmental Christians and legalistic churches.

What if, when we thought of Christian liberty, it brought to mind ideas such as “love,” “God’s glory,” and “service”?

Sadly, this isn’t typically how we frame the topic of Christian liberty—but it’s exactly how the Bible frames it. I fear that, in our discussion regarding Christian liberty, we jump straight to the application and ignore the overarching biblical principles that are designed to govern and regulate our exercise our Christian liberty.

First of all, what is Christian liberty? It is the reality that, because of Christ’s obedient life and sacrificial death, we are no longer bound by the Legal demands of the Mosaic law. Christ fulfilled the law and has brought us in union with Him. Now, we serve the law of Christ, the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25). Christian liberty is, without a doubt, a wonderful truth.

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True Confessions of a Recovering Legalist

Religious “Legalism” with a capital “L” is heresy. It’s the belief that one’s personal virtue and obedience to religious norms or standards merits God’s favor and/or salvation. This “do-it-yourself” religion is antithetical to the gospel of Christ and the Bible’s grace-based religion. “For by grace you have been saved through faith,” writes the apostle Paul. He goes on to remark, “This is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8). When asked what deeds God requires of men as a condition for eternal life, Jesus surprised his audience with the reply, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29; see also John 3:16, 36; Acts 4:12; 16:30-31; Rom 10:9-13).

Hardcore Legalism

I used to think that I could earn God’s favor and salvation on the basis of my inherent virtue and good works. Of course, I admitted I wasn’t perfect. But I foolishly presumed that my good deeds would somehow outweigh my bad deeds. In this respect, I thought and behaved much like the Pharisees, scribes, and Jewish people of Jesus’ day who trusted in their own inherent virtue and religious performance to merit their acceptance before God (Matt 5:20; Luke 16:14-15; 18:9-12, 14; Rom 10:1-3).

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"[B]e vigilant to avoid embracing legalism in a cloak of godliness ... and lawlessness in the cloak of grace"

"In all three pastoral letters, Paul impresses the need ministers have to pursue personal godliness and to call the people of God to pursue true, Gospel-motivated holiness and good works." —Legalism, Lawlessness and Pastoral Ministry

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Carmageddon, Eruvs, and Working for Salvation

First appeared at The Cripplegate in 2011.

Carmageddon came and went, with no serious delays or deaths attributed to the temporary pause on LA’s car-craved culture. But of special note, Carmageddon did not even disrupt LA’s elaborate eruv network.

There is perhaps no contemporary illustration of the folly of man-made religion as absurd as the eruv, and if you are unfamiliar with an eruv, you are missing out. Because God forbid the Israelites from working on the Sabbath, the Talmud—not content to simply leave the concept of work up to the conscience—created an elaborate system to protect people from accidentally working on the seventh day.

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How to Have Personal Standards Without Being a Legalist

Reposted from Pursuing the Pursuer, with permission.

“Your skirt length is a heart problem.”
“Music with a 2-4 beat is demonic.”
“Christians should never step foot in a movie theater.”

Maybe you remember hearing things like this in your church.

Some young Christians, when they look back on their upbringing, only remember a Christianity of “dos and donts.” They only remember their pastors preaching against rock music, clothing standards and movie theaters and the guilt they felt when they violated these commands. And the first chance they get, they flee.

Searching for an “authentic” Christianity outside of the realm in which they were raised, they find something else—something freeing. They find a message of hope that says, Stop focusing on the dos and don’ts. Focus on loving Jesus and loving others. Break free from the chains of legalism. Upon hearing this refreshing message, many young Christians proceed to appropriately toss out the legalistic bathwater…but tragically toss the baby right along with it:

“God isn’t concerned with what I watch or listen to.”
“God looks on the heart. He doesn’t care about outward appearance.”
“I’m accepted by him, I don’t have to worry about ever displeasing him.”

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The Grace of God

(About this series)

Chapter III — The Grace of God

BY REV. C. I. SCOFIELD, D. D., EDITOR “SCOFIELD REFERENCE BIBLE”

Grace is an English word used in the New Testament to translate the Greek word, Charis, which means “favor,” without recompense or equivalent. If there is any compensatory act or payment, however slight or inadequate, it is “no more grace”—Charis.

When used to denote a certain attitude or act of God toward man it is therefore of the very essence of the matter that human merit or deserving is utterly excluded. In grace God acts out from Himself, toward those who have deserved, not His favor, but His wrath. In the structure of the Epistle to the Romans grace does not enter, could not enter, till a whole race, without one single exception, stands guilty and speechless before God.

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