BUFF SCOTT, JR.
To me, legalism is an attempt to merit our way to heaven.
I love this topic as it is especially close to my heart, and totally believe it should be explored given how much this word Legalism, found nowhere in the Bible, is used by this world's religions. I apologize for the length in advance, I tried to keep it short, but the Scriptures have a lot to say about this popular religious philosophy.
The premise of this doctrine you are promoting seems to be based on some notion that the Pharisees were trying to earn salvation
by obeying God. But according to Jesus, who certainly should be the authority in my view, the Pharisees were not obeying God. And that was the problem. They "omitted" important parts of God's instructions that Jesus said they should have done, and not leave the other undone. They taught for doctrines the commandments of men, not God. They didn't believe Moses, and neither did their fathers who received God's Law by the disposition of angels and didn't keep it.
Nevertheless, I have heard since my youth from the religions of this world I was born into, that the Pharisees were trying to "merit their way" into the Kingdom by following "God's Law". It seems to me the bible doesn't teach this, so as a brother, I feel it is edifying to express my understanding of Scriptures on this topic.
Now Zacharias was an obedient Faithful servant of God. It is written of him; Luke 1:5 "There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
And again, about Abraham;
Gen. 26:4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; 5 Because
that Abraham obeyed
my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
Wasn't God's relationship with Abraham and Zacharias based on how they humbled themselves in obedience to God?
Didn't Abraham, Zacharias and even Jesus obey God, because they wanted to please Him?
John 8:28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. 29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for (Because) I do always those things that please him
Gen. 18:19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD
may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
How are these men not obeying for the express purpose of securing Favor of God in order to receive the Promises? If my dad tells me to clean my room, and if I do, he will take me fishing. Am I wrong as a child for cleaning my room, so that
dad with fulfill his promise to me? And if I remain faithful, shall I not learn that cleaning my room is the right thing to do, and simply my duty. Therefore, as I grow in the knowledge of my dad, I will learn "why" he made me clean my room and will no longer expect a reward, but will become thankful that dad went out of his way to teach me a universal truth. Pick up after yourself.
Are we not told to come to Jesus as little children? Isn't that because kids can be taught?
I was brought up in that kind of religious culture and it continues to burden me even today with the thought, “To reach God’s gloryland, I must do this and not do that.”
I was also raised under the same religious influence. But like the Pharisees religion, many of the "do this or don't do that" was founded on ancient religious tradition, having nothing to do with the actual instructions of God. The Pharisees had created religious traditions centered around business and politics. They created large man made "shrines of Worship", they had their preachers who always sat in the chief seats of the house. They created their own images of God, and their own High Days, they engaged basically in the selling atonement. They created unholy alliances with the Godless Governments around them for the purpose of retaining their wealth and Stature.
It is the same today, in my view. Religions are mostly for profit businesses who come in Christ's name, centered around man made "shrines of worship", with self proclaimed ministers of righteousness, who gather the people together in one place to promote their specific list of "do's and don'ts". They have created their own god in the likeness of some very handsome long haired man. They have created their own high days in worship of this god. And they have created some of the wealthiest corporations this world has even seen.
Are all these "do's and don'ts" not their version of trying to "merit their way into heaven"?
Perhaps if the Pharisees had followed the examples of Abraham, and Zacharias, and Jesus, who all "Denied" themselves and did those things which were "Pleasing in God's eyes" and not the worlds, they wouldn't have transgressed God's Commandments by their own religious traditions. Maybe they should have place their Faith in the Christ of the Bible, and followed His instruction as to what "do's and don'ts" we should be concerned with.
Matt. 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life
, keep the commandments.
Luke 10:26 He said unto him, What is written in the law
? how readest thou? 27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right
: this do
, and thou shalt live.
And if I fail to reach a sort of self-perfection in my obedience, guilt is the end product.
noun; 1 the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law; 2 a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.
Isn't "Guilt" the single most important driver of true repentance?
2 Cor. 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of
: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
I'm not sorry I have Guilt, rather, I am Blessed for having Guilt. I helps me "Strive against sin", or as Jesus instructs, "Go and Sin no more". Yes, guilt is uncomfortable, it brings remorse and sorrow. But it also motivates a man to be better. A Contrite heart is what God wants.
Ps. 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
feeling or expressing remorse or penitence; affected by guilt:
"a broken and a contrite heart" synonyms: remorseful · repentant · penitent · regretful · full of regret · sorry · apologetic · self-reproachful · rueful · sheepish · hangdog · ashamed · chastened · shamefaced · conscience-stricken · guilt-ridden · in sackcloth and ashes · compunctious
Guilt, or as God Defines it, contrite heart, is one of God's Tools to refine me into a better man in His eyes, a better husband in HIS Eyes, a better father in His Eyes, a better Brother in His Eyes.
One reason why I stay away from the religions of this world, is their constant progression of removing Guilt in order to increase membership to their religious business. They do this, in my view, by eliminating or abolishing GOD's "do's and don'ts".
Promoting the negative connotation for the word "Legalism" itself, which seems to be defined as obeying God in order to secure favor With him, is one way this is accomplished, in my view.
I persisted in this most unpopular course a big part of my early Christian adolescence. The addiction has not been easy to overcome, and I often have to stop in my tracks and tell myself, “God knows your weaknesses and your limitations and your attempts to better serve Him, so calm down and allow His grace to fill in the gaps.”
I like the way Charles Swindoll explains legalism. “Legalism,” he says, “requires that we all be alike, unified in convictions and uniform in appearance, to which I say, ‘Let me out!’ Grace, on the other hand, finds pleasure in differences, encourages individuality, smiles on variety, and leaves plenty of room for disagreement.”—Grace Awakening, p. 156.
Yes, imagine a world in which "EVERYONE" followed God's do's and don'ts. No more people killing one another. No more people hating one another. No more religious fraudsters swindling widows out of their income to provide themselves a 5th home in Jamaica. Imagine the whole world honoring God's Sabbaths. The whole world "Striving against sin".
But then, what would happen to all the religious businesses, and the wealth and power they have created for themselves? What about all the billions of dollars this world spends and makes on all the man religious made high days? Therefore, until Jesus comes back, only a "FEW" will walk the path HE walked, at least according to the Scriptures.
God has pleaded with folks for a long time to listen and obey Him Buff.
Jer. 6:13 For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. 14 They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.
15 Were they ashamed (Guilty) when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.
16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way
, and walk therein,
and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said
, We will not walk therein.
Why do they refuse??? Swindoll's definition of Grace says it best, in my view. "Grace, on the other hand, finds pleasure in differences, encourages individuality, smiles on variety, and leaves plenty of room for disagreement".
Jer. 18:12 And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.
Ps. 81:11 But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. 12 So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels. 13 Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!
Eph. 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Our Lord said it best. “So also you, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants, we have only done what was our duty’ ” [Luke 17:10].
Yes, Jesus truly understood the whole duty of man, as the Scriptures teach.
Ecc. 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
Regardless of our efforts to serve and obey Him flawlessly, which is impossible, we are still fallen creatures—unworthy servants—and in desperate need of His grace. We are redeemed sinners! Therefore, we seek His compassion, His mercy, and His redemptive favor.
Listening and following the religious philosophies of this world, YES, obedience and honor to God is impossible, just as it was for Eve, when she gave place to the "other voice" in the garden, who also quoted some of God's Word. "Hath God not said"?. But if we follow the instructions of the Jesus of the bible, and "Do the work's of Abraham", and Love His Father with all our hearts and with all our minds, and "Go and sin no more", we become a "NEW MAN" which has "Put on Christ" and "Put on the Armor of God". As Paul says.
Phip. 3:11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend
that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind
, and reaching forth unto those things which are before
14 I press toward the mark for the prize
of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded
: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule
, let us mind the same thing.
2 Tim. 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures
, which are able to make thee wise
unto salvation through faith
which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All scripture
is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect
, throughly furnished unto all good works
. (Do's and don'ts)
For without being granted these divine virtues, the path to eternal life will be extremely difficult to negotiate.
I believe God's instructions are also divine virtues. Humility towards the God and Father of the Lord's Christ, is a divine virtue. God's definition of Holy, Clean and Righteousness, are all "Divine Virtues" Buff. All honored by Abel, Noah, Abraham, Caleb, Gideon, Zacharias, Simeon, Anna, and all the examples of Faithful men, written specifically for our admonition. And, all honored by Jesus Himself who instructed His people to "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect".
I would caution giving to much weight to this world's definition of Legalism.