Legalism

"[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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Legalism & Galatians Part 3: Adoption

Portions of the epistle to the Galatians have been used in a manner that breeds confusion and misunderstanding regarding legalism, grace, sanctification, and Christian living. It’s a pity, because the epistle speaks powerfully and clearly on all of these topics. The book’s teaching on adoption is an especially potent message for our times, carving a clear, joyful—yet responsible—path between the opposite errors of justification by works (legalism) and sanctification without works (antinomianism).

But that’s not all. The reality of believers’ adoption as God’s children not only answers the extremes of legalism and antinomianism, but also counters other common errors. Here, we’ll consider two additional errors as well as the two opposite extremes.

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Legalism & Galatians Part 2: Law, Liberty & The Flesh

In a previous post, I asserted that popular confusion about law, grace, and the Christian life is often partly due to misunderstanding what was happening in the Galatian churches and what Paul taught to correct it. I argued that the Galatian trouble centered on their understanding of justification and its relationship to Mosaic Law, and that they were led astray by unbelievers who, in reality, cared as little for the Law of Moses as they did for the gospel.

Seen in this light, the epistle does not encourage sweeping rejections of effort and struggle in the Christian life, nor does it provide a basis for excluding firm boundaries against sin (often termed “man-made rules”) in Christian living.

But loose ends remain. Further study of the letter not only resolves the remaining issues but also clarifies common points of confusion such as the distinction between conscious self-discipline vs. “the flesh” (or the non-biblical term, “self-effort”) and the difference between slavery to the Law vs. obedience to Christ.

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