25 March 2008

What is a "legalist"?

by Dan Phillips

Were I forced to pick the most overused and undefined word inEvanjellibeanism today, and I might pick legalist. I think most Evanjellybeans think of legalism as Associate Justice Potter Stewart (January 23, 1915 - December 7) thought of hard-core pornography: he wasn't sure he could define it, but said "I know it when I see it."

We all know legalism when we see it — or so we think. But do we? Here are some definitions that I have culled from common use, by means of hearing, reading, observation and/or analysis. There will be some overlap and repetition.

Got all that?

Here we go, then:

A legalist is...
  1. Anyone who thinks Christians are under the Ten Commandments
  2. Anyone who thinks Christians are under the Law of Moses (more broadly)
  3. Anyone who thinks that we must obey law (— any law, whether of Moses or of Christ) to merit salvation
  4. Anyone who thinks a Christian should obey the commands of Christ and the apostles
  5. Anyone whose example makes me feel bad about my life
  6. Anyone who imposes man-made rules on other Christians' consciences
  7. Anyone who lives by standards that I don't share
  8. Anyone who tells me that I should not do something I want to do, or do something I don't want to do
  9. Anyone who tells me that a sin I sinned was sin, that I must repent before God and man, and that I must make it right with those I've wronged
  10. Anyone who seriously thinks that what the Bible says is more important than what I strongly feel
  11. Anyone who seriously thinks that the Bible should be our only rule of faith and practice, and that it is wholly sufficient to that end
  12. Anyone who quotes a Bible verse I don't want to hear
  13. Anyone who affirms a Biblical truth I don't want to think about
  14. Anyone who thinks that, just because I say I believe in Jesus, I should take seriously anything that Jesus or His apostles or prophets say, even if I don't want to
  15. Anyone who evaluates my outpouring of emotions and reactions in a Biblical manner, however humanly and compassionately
  16. Anyone who holds to a lot of rules
  17. Anyone who applies the Bible accurately, but without so much as a breath of grace, patience, compassion or humility
  18. Anyone who thinks we should ever say "No" to anything we really deeply feel in our hearts
  19. Anyone who goes to church when he doesn't feel like it
  20. Anyone who takes literally parts of the Bible that I don't take literally
  21. Anyone who thinks I should go to church when I don't feel like it, just because I say I believe in Jesus
  22. Anyone who thinks I should respect an authority I don't agree with
  23. Anyone who thinks that, just because I call Jesus "Lord, Lord," I should actually do what He says
  24. Update: Anyone who tries to hold another to a biblical standard [credit: Carrie]
  25. Update: Anyone who thinks that there is no problem that cannot be solved by more and better rules
In the meta, tell us:
  • Which of these have you heard most frequently?
  • Which do you think is (or are) accurate and legitimate uses — and on what basis?
  • Which do you think are inaccurate and illegitimate — and on what basis?
My chum: it is unlikely that anyone will be able to make a case that legalist is never used in any of the senses given above. I observe that this plethora of competing usages creates two very serious problems:

First, Christian A preaches or writes or otherwise rails fiercely against "legalism" in, say, senses 3, 6 and/or 17, but is heard by Christian B as denouncing legalism in, say, senses 9, 10 and/or 23. (Or vice-versa!)

Second, Christian A bitterly denounces Christian B as embodying senses 3, 6 and/or 17, when Christian B was in reality motivated along the lines of senses 4, 10, 11, 15, and/or 23 — because this pious dodge sounds and looks so much better than simply admitting the truth of the matter.

Have at it.

Dan Phillips's signature

188 comments:

Rick Frueh said...

A legalist in the strictist sense is someone who adds any kind of works to salvation.

After salvation it becomes a matter of Biblical interpretation and spiritual maturity. However in an accepted and colloquial sens the word legalist has come to mean someone who places laws and regulations upon believers that are either man made or taken from the Old Testament law, including the Ten Commandments.

Christ is the end of the law to everyone who believes. We as believers do not steal not because of words on tablets of stone but because of the Holy Spirit within us and the teachings of the New Testament. Anyone who commands another believer to follow part of the law must follow all of it.

The moral and ceremonial aspects of the law are man made differences that God never separated. If we disobey our Father today, we are chastened in love not stoned according to the law. This type of law adherance is also called being a "legalsit" today. Sabbath teachers, food restrictions, day observers, and many other Old Testament regulations have been unbiblically brought into the New Testament which was built on a better covenant with better promises. Do not return to the beggarly elements.

Johnny Dialectic said...

I believe I hear it most in the #8 sense. IOW, whenever Christianity is actually APPLIED to LIFE, chafing occurs. And it's so easy to leave the church that chafes (how's that for a sign?) and go down the street to the church that refuses to challenge or correct. And then say, "My old church is so legalistic."

BTW, the "church lady" is a perfect accompanying picture, Dan. One gets the feeling that many EC leaders think one iota of church discipline will instantly make them look like that.

DJP said...

...it's so easy to leave the church that chafes (how's that for a sign?)

"Sign" in the sense of "sign of the times"? Or in the sense of a church sign, as in "First Baptist: The Church that Chafes"?

Frank Turk said...

Wha -- waitaminit. WAITAMINIT!

I should respect an authority I disagree with?!

Dude, that's insane. Next thing you know you'll be saying you should stay in your church even though the pastor is an arminian or the music leader sings songs not in exclusive psalmody.

You're crazy, Dan. That's why I like you: completely crazy.
_____

And while we respect Rick's certainty about whether we should call him "Henry" or "Rick", there is a difference between the problem that no one was ever saved by the Law and the problem that man still has an obligation before God to obey His moral precepts.

Let me say this plainly: just because we are no longer bound to stone the son who thumbs his nose at his parents and disobeys his father -- that is, just because we do not live under the government of Mosaic Israel -- doesn't mean that the disobedient son doesn't deserve to be stoned. We simply have more to go on today than they did in the time of the Judges or of Saul and David -- and in that, we call him to repent rather than be merely beaten to death for his sin, based on the bloody price Christ paid for, among other things, breakers of the 5th commandment.

Christ paid a price for sin: He didn't abolish sin. If we lose sight of that, we're going someplace which, frankly, has a wide gate and an easy path but leads to destruction.

Daryl said...

That's quite a list...

I'd say that #3 and probably #6 are legitimate uses of the word. The reason I say #6 is that quite often people who add to the law, do so with the intent of making obedience to that law all about salvation. (If I had a nickel for everytime I've heard "They SAY their a Christian, but they drink...)

One the other side, I'd say I've heard #10 the most, simply because people today (OK, all of us, through-out history...)really think that "if you just follow your heart..." is a reliable way to make decisions.

We don't want to be dictated to and the Bible, well, the Bible really does dictate.

Honourable mention goes to #17 because labelling someone as a legalist seems to provide more permission to ignore them than just calling them a jerk.

Daryl said...

"Christ paid a price for sin: He didn't abolish sin."

Oh come on Frank, you're just sying that because you're not living in the victory. Just let go and let God, man...

Carrie said...

Great post.

Usually when I hear this word used the definition appears to be "anyone who tries to hold another to a biblical standard". The idea is that we shouldn't tell other people how to "work out their faith". Quite convenient.

I would say the proper use of the term would be someone who subscribes to living by the law for salvation (#3) although I sometimes think of it in terms of people who outline rules that aren't so clear in scripture - like drinking for the Christian. But now that I think about it, I'm not sure the latter definition is proper.

Nik Papageorgiou said...

I've heard #10 and #15 more frequently, especially in this "follow your heart" era.

However, I think that #3 is the most accurate description of a legalist, especially since such a soteriology will define a person's behaviour and approach to life in general. An example would be Arminianism, which often generates fellowships with rule after rule after rule, based on the fear of losing one's salvation.

All the others (apart from #3) have to do with today's watered-down, user-friendly, man-centred, it's-all-about-you Gospel, which re-defines the normal sanctification and self-discipline (εγκράτεια) of a genuine Christian as "being untrue to oneself".

JackW said...

You forgot the sense where someone makes a list and then expects you to remember what's on that list by it's numeric position! ;-)

Rick Frueh said...

Paul makes it clear, you cannot obey the law piecemeal. If you go back under the law, Christ has profiteth you nothing. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death.

The law kills, the spirit gives life. The strength of the law was sin and inherrant in that law was a date certain of its own death. In essence, its weakness was its glory.

The law may be used sometimes to convince the unregenerate of their sin, but it is dead now to the believer in Christ. It continues to be true that no one can completly obey the law for even one hour (maybe much shorter).

John say that "If we are walking in the light as He is in the light we are having fellowship one with another AND the blood of Jesus CHrist his Son IS CLEANSING us from ALL sin."

Even when we walk in the light we sin, but we are being cleansed because the punishment that the law DEMANDS does not apply because there is no law for the child of God. We obey because the love of Christ constrains us notbecause we are obeying Moses. That is a subtle form of mixing Jesus with Moses which of course Hebrews spells out clearly the difference.

The law is part of God's dealing with Israel but it had a central purpose to bring us to Christ. God does not desire us to pack it up and bring it with us, it is now dead to us. The believer in Christ feels good because he hasn't broken the adultery commandment, but Jesus smashed those tablets of stone and exposed us all for the sinners we are.

The law of Moses has served its purpose and is now dead, however if that finite covenant, etched in stone, was glorious, of how much greater glory is that which dwells in our hearts and shines in the face of God's own Son!! Do not bring the son of the bondwoman to dwell with the son of the free, Ishmael shall have NO PART in Isaac.

And Frank, I did take notice of your Arminian remark but by God's grace I view it as a personal growing process. One day most of the Calvinists will experience a "corrective epiphany" that will bring them back into God's free will fold.

:)

JackW said...

Legalism: That which occurs while in the Slough of Despond and instead of that nice fellow Help, Mr. Worldly Wiseman comes along and adds a few items to your backpack.

Daryl said...

Rick, you said:

"If you go back under the law, Christ has profiteth you nothing."

I think Paul was pretty clear that he was talking about the law as it relates to salvation, not as it relates to sanctification.

Paul constantly calls us to put aside the lusts of the flesh and to press on. That doesn't make him a legalist, it makes him someone who understands what the law is for. It is for living, not for salvation.

DJP said...

Carrieanyone who tries to hold another to a biblical standard

Very well-put. I'm adding it.

JackW — LOL

Rick Frueh said...

daryl - yes, he was basically speaking of salvation but it carried with it a far more pervasive spiritual horizon. He berates believers for "being made perfect" by the law and when they observe days and months and anything that refers back to the "beggarly elements".

In Paul's teachings, the gospel is not of the law and nowhere does he advocate dropping it to get saved and then picking it up again after salvation. There were Judaizers who attempted to place the law of Moses upon believers which Peter objected to (because of Paul) in Jerusalem.

If one believes a believer must observe the law he must teach all of it because God presents it as a whole not a smorgashboard to choose what you like and reject the rest.

Daryl said...

Rick,

The trouble with that is, where is the line. You believe you don't murder or lie. If not because of the law, then why?

Remember, Love the Lord Your God and your neighbour as yourself is the law too, so that can't be your reason to behave yourself.
If all our "good behaviour" is purely driven by the internal working of God, why admonish Christians to live better? Would we not be further ahead to just pray that God would make them behave and say nothing? Yet Paul says a lot.

Also, what to do with "If you love me you will keep my commandments". What are the commandments but the law?

That's why I wouldn't call insisting the believers obey the moral law, legalism.

You also said "If one believes a believer must observe the law he must teach all of it because God presents it as a whole not a smorgashboard to choose what you like and reject the rest."

But why was he after the "keep the whole law" thing. It was because salvation according to the law demands absolute perfection. That's why he said you have to keep all of it. The Judaizers weren't saying "Now that you're a Christian you need to be circumcised" they were saying "If you really want to be a Christian you must be circumcised".

Dave Marriott said...

Daryl,

I want to make sure I understand you correctly. The law can't save but it can sanctify?

DJP said...

Random thoughts:

I can never predict meta's.

I'm fine with how this one's going, but it almost sounds like it could turn into a meta on what an "antinomian" is, which is another good topic.

Let's do not completely forget the actual topic. I do think Christian conversation would go further if there could be an accepted definition of "legalist/legalism."

Not that we'll achieve that here!

Writing and Living said...

I can't say it any better than Nik:

However, I think that #3 is the most accurate description of a legalist, especially since such a soteriology will define a person's behaviour and approach to life in general. An example would be Arminianism, which often generates fellowships with rule after rule after rule, based on the fear of losing one's salvation.

If one thinks he can do something to earn salvation, it's only logical that he can muck it up and lose his salvation.

My husband has gotten to the point that when anyone throws out a word like "legalism" he immediately responds with, "Please define what you mean by that." Because, as you well know, when we use the same words but have different definitions, we're really not communicating at all.

Dave Marriott said...

Alright Dan,

I will try to get it back on track. I think to protect the word, we should only opt for definitions 1,2,3, and 6. 1,2,and 3 being the Judaizers sense of the word and 6 being a contemporary application?

Although 17 is tempting, they aren't legalists, just jerks (thanks to Daryl on that one).

Daryl said...

Dave Marriot,

No, I'm not saying that. Christ saves and sanctifies. I'm just saying that when Jesus said that not one jot or tittle shall pass away, he meant it.
He fulfilled that ceremonial law which pointed to him, so it's complete and no longer necessary. But he didn't fulfill the moral law in the same way.

Nowhere are we told that the moral law no longer applies. It applies to everyone. But it can't bring salvation (that we all agree on). That doesn't mean it's now worthless.

I love my kids. If someone wants to become one of my kids, they can't get into the family by obeying the house rules. But they still have to obey the house rules either way. Why? Because they are the rules, whether you're in the family or not in the family.

So....to bring this back...that's why I'd define a legalist as someone who makes any law-keeping a condition of salvation. Anyone who makes (moral) law keeping something a believer must do is not a legalist, they're just being biblical.

I suppose the question is "Why not tell lies?"
If the answer is "Because if you do, you'll go to hell" you're a legalist.
If the answer is "Because the Bible says not to" you're not. You're just being biblical.

Frank Turk said...

Rick (henry):

I think you're missing my point.

My point is -not- that we must obey the Law to be saved. That view of things is an oxymoron -- because {a} the Law doesn't save anyone (it only, ultimately, condemns us; it demonstrates why we need saving) and {b} the Law also doesn't make us better people.

But here's the thing: if {a} is true, and the Law demonstrates our condemnation, then our broad problem still exists and we have some relationship to the Law which, frankly, tells us about us plainly and purposefully. That's Romans 7 -- the Law shows me what's wrong with me, and while it is right for me to seek to obey it, and it is right for me to see it as holy and just and truly delight in God's commands, it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

Which is why we then say, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death."

The "no condemnation" is the response to what Paul underscores as the case that we deserve condemantion, but we get Christ's work instead.

That's not an abolition of the Law: it makes God just (because he has made punishment against sin wholly in CHrist) and the justifier (because Christ has born the wrath, and now can offer a just forgiveness rather than a justice-affronting forgiveness which is soft on sin).

The Law still makes demands on men: those demands cannot save anybody, but only bring condemnation. Our obedience to that Law demonstrates only our need for Christ, but that Law still requires of us obedience because it is God's Law.

And let's be clear about something: it is not just the Father who demands this of us. It is Christ who demands this of us. Christ did not die that we could live as libertines: Christ died because we are already libterines and need a way to overcome that in order to eb sons and not enemies to the Father.

thebluefish said...

Not to take it a bit off subject, but where's the divide between moral and ceremonial law? Some of the legalism question does rather rest on what of the multiple-choice of views on the law we take. Maybe someone could write Five Views on Legalism to accompany Five Views on the Law...

I guess I see plenty of people reacting to having their lives challenged and calling that legalism, which seems illegitimate. If it was then Paul would be the prime legalism writer for challenging Galatia etc. Him and Jesus too!

Whatever place the law has there has to be room for challenge and actually practically being ruled by Jesus. Yet, a rules-based approach to combatting the ongoing presence of sin sounds to me like legalism. I guess I've often used it in that way. #25 should be rightly labelled legalism, for reasons of what Jesus says in Mark 7, for example.

Rick Frueh said...

"The Judaizers weren't saying "Now that you're a Christian you need to be circumcised" they were saying "If you really want to be a Christian you must be circumcised"."

That is only half true. There were many Jews who became believers in Christ wh demanded law obedience. Hebrews deals with this as well as Galatians. The two cannot be mixed, the law has now established Christ and it is no longer in effect for the Christian.

The New Testament gives many "commandments" and Jesus Himself "broke" some of Moses's laws in order to illuminate the coming New Covenant. You must follow ALL of it if you follow any of it. Even sinners who don't follow any law are a "la unto themselves" because the law of God is written in their hearts, so even they don't murder because they know it is wrong.

Spirit indwelt believers are held to a much higher standard than the law of Moses. Just because we don't commit adultery with our neighbor physically doesn't mean we don't commit adultery in God's eyes. We get this idea that if we don't observe Moses's law it is anarchy. Just the opposite, it is a much greater calling of discipleship.

The Spirit is greater than stone.

Dave Marriott said...

Daryl,

I think I agree with bluefish here. If you really want to divide the law in moral and ceremonial (which the Scriptures DO NOT DO), then you are left as the sole arbitrator as to what is moral law and what is not. This is groundwork for legalism...

The DJP-style-Dispensationalism doesn't have this problem when dealing with the law...

Daryl said...

Rick

"The Spirit is greater than stone."

True, but it is certainly not less than Scripture either.

Dave Marriot,

Why do you not lie? If it weren't in the Bible, you would have to tell the truth, so it's not "the Spirit within you" it's Scripture.

As far as ceremonial law, clearly clean/unclean and the sacrificial system we pointing to Christ in a way that "Thou shall not commit murder" does not.
In that way, Scripture does differentiate. The ceremonial law relates to how Israel conducted worship. Otherwise you are left with believing that touching your wife during her monthly period is sin, even now.

So expecting believers to obey the moral law can't be legalism.

DJP said...

DJP-style-Dispensationalism

That tickles me to the point that I don't have a sufficiently witty response.

ezekiel said...

Can I work my way into heaven by loving my neighbor as myself? No. But if I He abides in me and I abide in Him, will I love my neighbor as myself? I think so...

Can I outrage the spirit of Grace by continuing to rebel and live a life inconsistent with His teachings?

Lev 19: 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Matt 22:35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? 37 And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

Romans13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Galatains 5:14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Galatains 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Hebrews 10:16
This is the covenant that I will make with them

after those days, declares the Lord:

I will put my laws on their hearts,

and write them on their minds,

17 then he adds,
I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?

Just because we are justified by faith and faith alone doesn’t mean that we overthrow the law.

Romans 2:13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

Romans 3:31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

greglong said...

I think there are two aspects to legalism.

1) "Legalism is seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and justfitication before God through obedience to God" (C. J. Mahaney, The Cross-Centered Life, p. 112). I suppose this would fit under your #3.

2) Legalism is also "teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Jesus, Matthew 15:9 & Mark 7:7. See Mt. 15:1-20 and Mk. 7:1-23.) I suppose this would fit under your #6.

The Doulos said...

DJP: Let's do not completely forget the actual topic. I do think Christian conversation would go further if there could be an accepted definition of "legalist/legalism."

Wow. Dan. Dude. How legalistic of you. Trying to impose your will and authority on us here in the meta.

For a clear and I think Biblical definition, I have to agree with rick f's first comment:
A legalist in the strictist sense is someone who adds any kind of works to salvation...the word legalist has come to mean someone who places laws and regulations upon believers that are either man made or taken from the Old Testament law, including the Ten Commandments.

Any uses of the term outside of these bounds seems to be self-serving and unclear. As most of the numbered usages you list do. If we could all agree to and accept this definition, we'd have to at least come up with better labels for those who try to hold us accountable to the Word, etc.

Dave Marriott said...

"Why do you not lie? If it weren't in the Bible, you would have to tell the truth, so it's not "the Spirit within you" it's Scripture."

I refrain from lying not because I am bound to the OT law. I refrain from lying because I am in Christ and that particular ethical imperative flows from my position in Him (Eph. and Col.).

Oftentimes, the commands of the NT seem to overlap with the OT legislation ---- that's not a problem, as both were given by God to his people. However, the former has passed away and as we are led by the Spirit, our lives will match up with the latter (which will at times line up with the former). I hope that made sense.

Please demonstrate what hermeneutic you would employ in the Old Testament where the "moral" and "ceremonial" laws are mixed. By what standard, do you decide what is "moral" and "ceremonial." I would argue that all law was moral, by its very nature. If an Israelite broke the law, he/she committed an immoral act.

DJP - I'm glad you liked that Zinger.

Dave
http://seeingclearly.wordpress.com

Dave Marriott said...

BTW,

Does it trouble anyone else that in the original post, there is a link entitled, "hard-core pornography?"

Legalist or not, does he actually expect us to click on that?!?!?!

Rick Frueh said...

The overall thrust of Frank's last comment is correct. The law still can be used as a schoolmaster to bring someone to Christ via a shocking look into their own sin and inability to save themselves. The sacrifice system can also provide an enlightening shadow pointing to Christ.

But the law does not pertain to Christians which is not to say "that sin may abound", God forbid says Paul. We are bound by the Spirit and the words of the New Testament are actually spirit as well. It remains a fact that the law of Moses cannot be observed selectively, if you desire to be approved by obedience to the law you must observe it all.

And just so you know - YOU CAN"T!

Daryl said...

Dave Marriot,

"I refrain from lying not because I am bound to the OT law. I refrain from lying because I am in Christ and that particular ethical imperative flows from my position in Him (Eph. and Col.)."

In what way does that ethical imperative flow from your position in him? I would suggest that is flows out of our desire to keep the law, as it is given to us in Scripture.
As in "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" not "If you love me you will adhere to that ethical imperative that flows from your position in me".

What does "ethical imperative that
from my position in Him" mean?

As far as ceremonial law vs moral law, I'd suggest that the moral law is the 10 commandments and any further expansion on them given anywhere in Scripture.
The ceremonial law relates to worship requirements and the various prescribed ways in which breaking the moral law is dealt with in the OT. The latter, of course, having completed once and for all by Christ.

DJP said...

Does it trouble anyone else that in the original post, there is a link entitled, "hard-core pornography?"

Dave, don't be such a legalist.

Dave Marriott said...

Daryl,

Because I am in Christ, I do not want to lie anymore. The Spirit of God is in the process of transforming my life.

We cannot confuse the law of Christ (as delineated in the epistles) with the law of Moses.

As believers are being changed from one stage of glory to the next, they will display more characteristics in line with the law of Christ. However, they do not do this because they are bound to the OT legistlation.

These are apples and oranges...

Can you interact with my question about your OT hermeneutic?

Mike Riccardi said...

Daryl,

I love you, brother, but I agree with Dave on this one. We can't live out the Gospel of grace by the law.

I would say that the "ethical imperative" (though I probably wouldn't have come up with that) is exactly what you said in your citation: Love Me. It's looking into the face of Christ without a veil, and beholding His glory in such a way that makes us fall in love with Him, and come away so satisfied that we're transformed into that same image, from glory to glory. So sanctification happens by beholding the face of Christ, having that glory shine on our unveiled face, and just by nature of that, being transformed.

I wouldn't say that Jesus was saying, "You say you love me. Wanna prove it? Keep my commandments." I think He was saying, "You know when you'll keep my commandments? When you love me, that's when. If you just focus on loving me, you will do the things that I require, because most ultimately, I require you to be satisfied in Me."

----
The legalist thing is a great point to bring up. Around the time of the whole MacArthur-Pagitt Yoga thing on CNN, I got called a legalist for saying I thought MacArthur was right. Thought that was kinda funny, because it had nothing to do with salvation by doing or not doing yoga. I think you hit it on the head, Dan. Actually bring a principle of Scripture out of the theoretical and apply it to my life, such that it makes me change what I want to do, and you're a legalist.

DJP said...

"To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law" (1 Corinthians 9:20-21)

Rick Frueh said...

A good verse, Dan. It shows that a believer can vacillate as to his outward appearance so as to effectively communicate the gospel, but it also shows he is in bondage to nothing but Christ.

candyinsierras said...

It is so interesting that you posted this today Dan, because I was just looking up articles yesterday on Legalism. I work with someone who,in my opinion, really struggles with legalism. Here is a quote by Dominic Smart, and I will link to the actual article too.

Legalism isn’t a matter of having rules, structures, limits or instructions in our congregations or individual lives. While they can be overdone, and often are by people of a certain temperament, they are necessary for godly order in any fellowship: God has given many to us in the Scriptures. The opposite of legalism isn’t lawlessness (antinomianism, as some like to call it), which is nothing more than anarchic pride. Nobody is delivered into that. Christian freedom isn’t freedom to do whatever you want: down here none of us is safe to be let loose with such a freedom; up there - well, we’ll be different then!

Legalism is primarily a God-ward thing. It’s a way of making and keeping yourself acceptable to God. From this flows the legalism that is directed towards one another It’s a way of scoring sanctity points in our fellowships, and exerting what one postmodernist called a “truth regime” - it’s about pride, power and control. It simultaneously glorifies man and “unsecures” man. Thus its true opposites are grace and faith.

legalism

pastorbrianculver said...

I have pretty much heard them all. Although, numbers 4, 10. 11, and 12 seem to stand out the mos for me! I am pretty much going through this right now on my blog. A couple of guys are so grace filled that they refuse to believe a pastor should talk about sin and repentance. It makes for interesting conversations!

candyinsierras said...

I am so dense with html link codes. Let me try that link again.

Legalism

If that doesn't work, try this: http://www.beginningwithmoses.org/bigger/ds_legalism.htm

Daryl said...

Dave Marriot,

I don't see the disconnect in the moral law between OT and NT that your seem to. Only that the NT ramps it up even more.
Where is the law of Christ laid out in the NT? Does it not reference the OT law as its basis?

As far as the other question, I thought I answered that. I think it's self evident that the moral law is one thing, the way we deal with the breaking of the moral law and the way we do worship is another thing. I don't think it takes a special hermeneutic, I think it's laid out clear enough in Scripture.

Mike:

I don't disagree, but I still have this question. The statement "Love Me" begs the question. How?
Jesus said that "Love Me" sums up all the law and the prophets. So right there, Jesus defines "Love Me" within the previously given parameters in the OT. (As does John in 1 John)

I agree that we live out the gospel of grace by beholding his face and "falling in love", but again, why does Paul admonish us by saying "Let the one who steals, steal no longer" (or something like that...:) ) if all he really needed to say was "get a good look at his face and you'll fall in love and stop sinning".

If nothing else the law is the answer to the question "How?"
Just like, when I say to my wife "How should I love you?" and she says "Wash the dishes". That doesn't mean that washing the dishes makes me love her, nor does it mean that washing them imperfectly nullifies the whole relationship. But it does mean that if I'm to claim that I love her, I must wash those dishes.

I suppose the question is this - What does "under the law" mean?
Does it mean the law means nothing to me? or does it mean the law has no hold on me vis a vis punishment and motivation?

InGalations 6 Paul said
"Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ."

So he's saying "do something, bear one another's burdens". That sounds to me that the law still applies, but (as we all agree here) not in order to be justified (legalism) but because we love Him.

Daryl said...

Candy, good quote:

"Legalism is primarily a God-ward thing. It’s a way of making and keeping yourself acceptable to God. "

For the record, I hope no one's thinking that I'm saying we make ourselves acceptable to God via the law...just to be clear.
:)

dakota dave said...

If your donkey falls into a pit on the sabbath, what do you do?

I would suppose that getting a donkey out of a pit in your church clothes would be considered hard work. And you can't work on the sabbath. Unless you're a Pastor. And you shouldn't refer to your church board members as donkeys anyway.

Tom Chantry said...

"Legalism" is any attempt to define "legalism", since clearly the word "legalism" may mean whatever I need it to mean in order to label as a "legalist" anyone whose words, actions, facial expressions, or inner thoughts (which I can read) are offensive to my sense of self-worth and entitlement. By attempting to define "legalism", Dan has done considerable damage to my psyche while attempting to deprive me of the "legalism" defense necessary for its restoration. What a legalist!

Rick Frueh said...

This is a very subtle but important distinction. We no longer march to the orders from God through Moses, although they can be used in many good and deep teaching formats. The same with the writers of the New Testament.

We are led of the Spirit, and God uses the the written revelation of the New Testament to more clearly show us His will. But we are still children of the Spirit which means loving obedience.

Lagalism in all its forms lifts up the works of man and downplays the grace of God. The most obedient Christian that ever lived will still be saved and sanctified by grace through faith alone. Our obedience pleases the Father but only His grace changes us.

DJP said...

Vintage Chantry.

:^D

Daryl said...

Rick,

I think we've beaten this to death so we should probably leave it for now. But one last comment from me, feel free to answer but I imagine this will be my last word on this for the time being (famous last words...:) )

"But we are still children of the Spirit which means loving obedience."

Obedience to what?

"Lagalism in all its forms lifts up the works of man and downplays the grace of God. The most obedient Christian that ever lived will still be saved and sanctified by grace through faith alone. Our obedience pleases the Father but only His grace changes us."

Absolutely, unequivocally agreed.

ScriptureZealot said...

I have one that may be a little different.

A legalist is someone who is pious in a good way and practices spriritual disciplines in a habitual or religious (in a good way again [religion isn't always a bad word]) way. I suppose this could be similar to following rules. However in this case an anti-legalist would say that the person is doing these things out of a sense of perfectionism instead of being led by the Spirit to do them.

Obedience is pretty much taken out of the picture.

These things can be done in this manner out of great love for God and enjoyment of Him. And often the accusers are the ones who don't do those things.
Jeff

Daryl said...

Could we say that legalism is doing anything with the motivation of somehow improving our standing with God.

That's the one I struggled with for years...

Michelle said...

I have always understood legalism to be #3, but I have repeatedly referred to a certain fundamental baptist church we attended for a few months as legalistic. The men couldn't serve without a tie on, the ladies couldn't teach Sunday school without a dress on (instead of pants, that is), one has to sign that you will not touch alcohol before you are accepted into membership, and the pastor made it clear that under no circumstances could a woman wear a sleeveless top to a church picnic. Now I'm not sure if I'm correct in referring to that as legalistic *scratches head*. Help.

Messyanic Jew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Messyanic Jew said...

The late Dr. Louis Goldberg, who headed the Jewish Studies department at Moody Bible Institute for more than 3 decades, once gave an interesting definition of legalism:

"Legalism is adding to what God has commanded in an attempt to be hyper-righteous."

Mike B. said...

7. Anyone who lives by standards that I don't share

Regardless of what other issues might spark someone to accuse someone else of being a legalist, I would say that this is the primary definition behind nearly all of them, and certainly the one which I encounter most often.

"Legalist!" has indeed become the new witch cry of evangelicalism, and a very frustrating one at that since very few people seem to really know what it means even when they use it.

If I had my way, I would wipe this word from Christian vocabulary altogether. It is not a biblical word, nor is it even really any sort of clearly defined theological word. It is just a sort of all-purpose pejorative that seems to do more harm than good in most cases.

If I absolutely had to pick a definition, I would defined legalism as a system of belief which allows a person to achieve justification before God by a system of works. This is only because usually in those passages where people interpret Paul to be speaking against "legalists," this is the kind of difficulty he is addressing. Or at least that is the difficulty they think he is addressing when they apply the definition. In many cases, the issue is significantly more nuanced , but you get the idea.

So in summary, my vote is to vote "legalism" out of the dictionary. Anyone with me?

Jugulum said...

Rick said,

The New Testament gives many "commandments" and Jesus Himself "broke" some of Moses's laws in order to illuminate the coming New Covenant. You must follow ALL of it if you follow any of it.

Rick, I that needs some more articulation. You say that I must follow all of "it" if I follow any of "it"? But... "You shall not murder" is part of Moses' laws. Generally speaking, the deeds of the flesh (Gal. 5:17-21) are part of Moses' laws--and in some sense, we are bound by those principles. Or perhaps "bound" is the wrong word--but those moral principles are active things that we should follow. Wanting to follow them is part of the "desires of the Spirit" in that passage. (And all this hooks into the idea that a genuinely born again individual will bear fruit and change--because at the same time that Paul says, "if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law," he says that "those who do such things [the deeds of the flesh] will not inherit the kingdom of God.")

So, in short: You can't just say, "You must follow ALL of it if you follow any of it," unless you say that refraining from murder puts you under the burden of the whole Mosaic Law. You need to articulate your point more fully--and it needs to jibe with the rest of the biblical teaching on righteousness and the New Covenant, including this Galatians passage.

If we're not careful in what we communicate, we can end up "sanctioning" the attitudes behind definitions #4, #5, #9, #12-14, and #24.

Rick Frueh said...

jugulum - you assume that when someone doesn't murder they are under the Mosaic law. If they themselves are under the bondage of the law to not murder then they are indeed in bondage to all of it.

I do not murder because I am a new creature in Christ and am led of the spirit. The law of Moses is death and is not the manual for the New Testament believer. The New Covenant is not just a better extension of the old, the Old Covenant no longer exists.

Johnny Dialectic said...

We obey not to be saved but to "make our calling and election sure" and to keep from "falling" (2 Peter 1:10)

When we obey, our faith is strengthened. When we love with "actions and in truth" we know we belong to the truth (1 John 3:18,19).

Jugulum said...

Rick,

Hmm, I wrote the above before I saw this comment: "We no longer march to the orders from God through Moses, although they can be used in many good and deep teaching formats."

I agree with that. I think Greg Koukl has expressed it this way: We are no longer bound by the 10 Commandments, simply by virtue of the fact that those commandments were given to Moses for Israel to follow. But it's still true that murder is wrong, and we should obey any commands from God to us.


And for myself, I still struggle to properly articulate the relationship between these ideas, and Paul's statements about the Law in Romans 6-7.

Daryl said...

At the risk of this thing headed somewhere it was never intended to go...

What does "am led of the spirit." Rick? Apart from what is in Scripture I mean (which seems to be what you are saying).

That is, if not from the law as given in Scripture, then from whence cometh this leading?

Laura said...

The way I've always understood legalism is that legalists are people who add rules to the Bible. I grew up near a church that insisted that females of all ages wear skirts or dresses at all times...and if you were caught not doing so, you were rebuked. Similarly, my pastor admits he grew up in a legalistic church where Christians were not supposed to go to movies or dances. And then there are those people who say that Christians should never drink alcohol, ever. These are rules not found in Scripture, but enforced by legalists.

I do think that most of what is on Dan's list is what the majority of evanjellybeanicals consider legalism.

Jugulum said...

Rick said,
"you assume that when someone doesn't murder they are under the Mosaic law."

No, the way that you expressed your point seemed to assume it. That's why I requested some more articulation--because I know you don't mean it that way.

But as per my last comment, I think we agree that we do not follow the Mosaic commands simply in virtue of the fact that they are Mosaic commands--the Law of Moses in all its specificity is "not the manual for the New Testament believer".

But much (most?) of it is based in things that we "should" follow--or perhaps it would be better to say, to the extent that we are led by the Spirit, we will be acting according to the righteousness that those commands were pointing to. And the Bible--including the OT--still tells us about the character of God, and what righteousness looks like, and what the deeds of the flesh look like. And those who are born again will be led of the Spirit, as part of the salvation that is entirely of faith in the justifying work of Christ, and we will bear fruit. God has predestined us to that sanctification. And conversely, those who do the deeds of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God--showing themselves not to be born again, showing themselves not to have God at work in them to will and to work according to His good purpose.

Rick Frueh said...

jugulum - I believe we the preponderance of our agreement overwhelms the minor differences in articulation. I would acknowledge many parts of the Mosaic law as healthy guidance that helps illuminate practical parts of our walk, but I believe you and I contend we are no "under" or in bondage to follow the Mosaic law even when it helps us understand God's moral views on some issues.

That seems nuanced and it is, however, a Biblical view of these issues will keep people away from legalism without giving them a license to sin.

RememberPolycarp said...

What timing with this meta, as Begg--via Truth for Life via KKLA radio in LA--just delivered a doozie of a message on keeping the Sabbath distinct and Holy. As a result of this particular message, I'm sure there will be many listeners who won't be tuning-in to TFL any longer, as the "evanjellybean" mindset would most definintely call this one legalistic. His point (which applies to your great post Dan) was the vital distinction one must make with regard to the 4th commandment, and every other item on your list, between an internal conviction verses an external duty. For those in other parts of thye country who get TFL later in the day, try to catch this message (in light of the post here today). Sorry if that suggestion sounds legalistic :^O

Jugulum said...

Back on-topic, as a partial answer to Dan's question, I've seen "legalism" used in these senses:

#3 Anyone who thinks that we must obey law (— any law, whether of Moses or of Christ) to merit salvation
#6 Anyone who imposes man-made rules on other Christians' consciences
#7 Anyone who lives by standards that I don't share
#16 Anyone who holds to a lot of rules
#17 Anyone who applies the Bible accurately, but without so much as a breath of grace, patience, compassion or humility
#24 Anyone who tries to hold another to a biblical standard [credit: Carrie]
#25 Anyone who thinks that there is no problem that cannot be solved by more and better rules

I think 3 is the worst, denying sola fide. I think 6 and 25 can probably be called "bad legalism", too--but 3 is the core point. And the others get thrown in under the same name--by sloppy confusion, or by people grasping at straws to justify their own lazy sinfulness. (Maybe it's also sloppy to include 6 and 25...Not sure. But 6 and 25 are how I've grown up hearing "legalism" used, so they're stuck in my mind.)

Mike Riccardi said...

So I have a question.

I hereby declare that Christians should not torture puppies.

Am I a legalist?

ReformedMommy said...

So, being an English major and all, all those numbers are making my eyes cross, but here's another one that I've experienced and am working to change when I see it myself -

preaching God's demand for repentance and omitting His forgiveness through Christ or His help to change through the Spirit

Jugulum said...

"I believe you and I contend we are no "under" or in bondage to follow the Mosaic law even when it helps us understand God's moral views on some issues."

I would just add two statements, for clarity:
1.) I agree that we are not "in bondage to follow" any command to righteousness in order to merit salvation. Salvation in faith-based, not performance-based.
2.) As for the Mosaic Law specifically, no aspect of it is in force on us (in a very particular sense)--but many aspects of it are still part of a righteous, Spirit-led life. (But the ceremonial aspects are not, and commands for how to run the Hebrew government don't apply. There's more to be said here, but that's a start.)
3.) It's still true that "Christians should not murder" and "Christians should not torture puppies".
4.) We'd all better be reeeeeeally careful that we're not ignoring some real aspect of holy, Spirit-led life, based on the excuse that "I'm not under law," or "That's just part of the Old Testament."

And the key point:
We need to pray for wisdom and discernment, and for God to always be turning our hearts more and more to him, increasing in us the desires of the Spirit. May we walk in the Spirit more and more each day--because we hate sin, love God, and delight in his way.

Steve Lamm said...

For those of you who were discussing the issue of the Mosaic Law, Pulpit Magazine did an extended series called: "No Longer under the Mosaic Law."

Here the link: http://www.sfpulpit.com/category/hermeneutics/page/2/.

I think all of you will find some helpful thoughts on this sticky issue. You can also follow the links given there to some real good articles.

Just to get you primed: Nathan Businitz took the position that dividing the Mosaic law into ceremonial/civil/moral categories was artificial and not supported by Scripture.

Happy reading!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

A legalist is Anyone who thinks I should go to church when I don't feel like it, just because I say I believe in Jesus.

This is timely. I would appreciate feedback from any TeamPyromaniacs to any/all of the following questions that have bounced around in my head yesterday.

(1) Can you be a Christian and not go to a local church? Why or why not?

(2) Is there a Scriptural command saying that a disciple of Christ must attend a local assembly of believers? If not, then it must be perfectly acceptable to have a “lone ranger” Christians who do not attend church, yes?

(3) If there is a Scriptural command to gather together with other believers in corporate worship, and a Christian disobeys this biblical commandment, then…. what? Is it a sin not to worship God together with other Christians at a local church on a regular basis?

If it’s not a sin, then it must be perfectly acceptable to have “lone ranger” Christians who do not attend church, yes?

(4) If you meet a Christian who says that they don’t go to church, and furthermore, that they don’t need to go to church, do you have a biblical obligation to politely suggest otherwise? Or should you just let the whole matter drop, and not say anything? Would God judge you better for being silent on the matter or would He judge you as being derelict for not bringing up the matter?

-------------

Another application of the idea. Suppose a church wants to practice the Great Commission and starts a Neighborhood door-knocking outreach effort. The pastor, enthused by the corporate enthusiasm to obey the Great Commission, personally leads the effort. He decides to go out in 2-person teams and he wants to disciple a lay leader so that he can model for this layperson how the Great Commission is shared. They go knocking on doors.

They meet someone who says “I’m a Christian and I don’t attend church. I don’t think I need to. I have read a pastor who wrote that ‘this is not a necessary qualification of “church” (i.e. a place that one goes to)—much less something required by the Bible.’ This other pastor also said that the idea of church ‘can find many expressions and should not be limited to a western idea of “church.’ Furthermore, Reverend John Doe, although I really do appreciate you and Ms. Layperson’s personal invitation to attend the local church, I want to let you know that even if I did neglect this corporate gathering for worship, the pastor that I read says, ‘of course, I am still a Christian.’”

This neighbor goes on to add, “Not only that Reverend John Doe, but I have prayed the Sinner’s Prayer. And I have the verses from the Bible that teach the Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints aka Eternal Security aka Once Saved, Always Saved. I have blessed assurance because I believe in Jesus Christ. So I won’t be attending any church, but is there anything else that I can help you with?”

Full Stop. Consider the pastor’s position in this situation. What is his biblical obligation to this neighbor? What is his biblical obligation to the layperson that he’s discipling? What is his obligation to Christ, his Lord and Savior?

Should Rev. John Doe say nothing? He doesn't want to be a legalist. Should Rev. John Doe affirm what the other pastor wrote and who influenced this neighbor that attending a local church is not biblically required. Or should Rev. John Doe say something else? Perhaps something that might get him tagged as a dreaded legalist. What do you think the Lord would have Rev. John Doe say in a situation like that? What would you say if you were Rev. John Doe?

MSC said...

Here is another definition.
Legalism is anything a person does to gain or maintain one's perceived acceptance before God and then sometimes cast that in stone as a standard for all.

Daryl said...

TUAD,

I think there's some posts in the archives around here about that...

But the short answer would be if Pastor Doe says "If you really are a Christian you should..." he's safe. If he says "In order to be a Christian you must..." that's trouble.


Question relating to the previous comments - Is the whole OT good for anything other than a history lesson and a further glimpse into God's character?

Michelle said...

Truth Unites:

"... and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near."

Hebrews 10:24-25

DJP said...

I had a gent (nice guy) leave a church I pastored because I preached that Christians should obey Christ's commands. He was a Bob George devotee, and also hooked up to a really (to me) paleo-dispensational school.

I asked him once, to try to make this concrete: If you were being tempted by a woman other than your wife, you wouldn't just think of Paul's command to "Flee immorality," or the commands against adultery, and obey by the Spirit's enabling?

Nope, he said. He'd just know that the flow of the life of Christ within wouldn't flow in that direction.

Yeah. Whatever.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Michelle, is Hebrews 10:24-25 considered a commandment or a suggestion?

I think that's important and I'm unsure.

Rick Frueh said...

djp - The important and overarching question was "Is he a major tither?".

If so, he has some good points! :)

Daryl said...

So...here's my other thought... :)

Because all Scripture is sufficient to equip us for every good work, we must keep saying that:

1.it is not legalism to refer to what is written in Scripture (properly understood of course)as our rule of life.

2.It is just wierd to say that we don't need what is written, we just need to be in the "flow".

3. Christ did it all, we are obeying (as we must) out of gratitude, but obeying nonetheless.

Daryl said...

But can we all admit that it sure would be nice if we could "get in the flow" and all would be well...?

I'm just sayin'

Mike Riccardi said...

Daryl,

I don't think we're obeying out of gratitude. I think that's where the danger of "living by law" comes in. Have you ever read Piper's "Future Grace"? He deals with the topic of this discussion very well in that book.

I'd say we don't obey out of gratitude, but out of delight. Because obeying out of gratitude can be begrudging. Piper uses the example of being invited to someone's house for dinner. Now you go home and feel pressured to invite that person to your house for dinner. You don't really want to, because it'd be a hassle and everything, but you do it anyway. That is not the type of obedience that Christ wants or esteems. His commandments are not burdensome. And when we talk about keeping them out of gratitude, we bring in a kind of "debtor's ethic," which allows the commandments to be burdensome or not burdensome, as long as they get done.

That's what I was going to say about the dishwashing analogy before. Yes, if your wife asks you to do the dishes, loving her will mean serving her in that way. But, you could also do the dishes for her begrudgingly, and you wouldn't be loving her. So merely doing the commandments isn't what counts as obedience. It's delighting in following the commandments that Jesus is after. And if we really see Him as He is, we know that there is nothing more pleasing than doing what He tells us to do, because God is the kind of God that desires to reveal Himself in all things. So His commands serve to reveal Himself to His people. As we obey, we see more of Him. That's the motivation: Delight, not duty.

.... And no one has gotten back to me on whether or not I'm a legalist because I say Christians shouldn't torture puppies.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Heb. 10:24,25 is a command, with a warning attached. See v. 26.

If you disobey this command, you are more subject to sin's deceitfulness and a hardening of your heart, and turning away from the living God. Yikes. (Heb. 3)

Daryl said...

Mike,

Point taken. But...obeying out of delight is still obeying, and his commands, while not burdensome, are still commands and are still written down so we can know them.

Right?

Mike Riccardi said...

Absolutely. And their being written down (revelation) is a glorious gift from God that shows us who He is even more clearly. So in one sense it shows us what obedience looks like. In another sense it shows us His face more clearly and more fully so we're energized that much more to obey/follow/glorify Him.

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

Great topic!

Thanks.

Daryl said...

Mike,

Soooo we agree. It is a delight and a responsibility both.

Sooo we are free to point another believer to the written word without being a legalist.

This is why I like it when you post stuff Mike. You're clear and plain and biblical.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Heb. 10:24,25 is a command, with a warning attached. See v. 26.

Hi Johnny Dialectic. Your comment spurred to look up the passage in two commentaries. Both commentaries said that those verses are general exhortations, albeit a very serious exhortation.

Does "exhortation" carry the same gravitas as "commandment"?

Suppose you meet a "technical" Christian who says that while he doesn't go to church, he's not technically breaking any commandments and admits that he's not following biblical exhortations. And therefore, he claims that he's still a Christian who's been forgiven for his sins, and need not attend a local assembly of other believers on a regular basis even though he knows that he's encouraged and exhorted to do so.

He then declares that you are a legalist. Whaddya gonna do?

Mike Riccardi said...

TUAD,

I agree that it's a command. In the Greek, it's a present participle following a present active subjunctive. That is, "not forsaking" follows "let us consider..." The "let us" is in the present active subjunctive. A literal translation might be "may we consider," which is what Young's Literal has. So it's instructive to see other places where we have this same construction.

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way. -- Rom 14:13

Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. -- 1 Cor 10:8-9

So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. -- Gal 6:10

So I would say that the directive to not forsake meeting together is just as much of a legitimate command as not judging one another and causing each other stumble, not acting immorally, not testing God, and doing good to all people.

Daryl said...

TUAD,

(to jump in uninvited...)

"He then declares that you are a legalist. Whaddya gonna do?"

Ummm...nothing. I don't care if that guy thinks I'm a legalist, I care if God thinks I am.

I've don't what I must, I've warned him. The rest doesn't really matter.

Mike Riccardi said...

And thanks, Daryl. I didn't get your last message till after my previous post. I really appreciate your comment, and I didn't want it to go unchecked.

Rick Frueh said...

A certain man has a son. He desires the son to grow and be productive and make him proud. The son has no wisdom in and of himself and so the father writes for him a set of rules with severe punishment for disobedience. The son remains under the jurisprudence of the father’s rules. He never grows out of this system.

Another family. This father also has a son and he desires this son to grow and be productive and make him proud. However this father designs a way to take some of his own DNA and implant it into his son and thereby allows his son to operate internally by drawing from, as it were, the father himself. This father threw the old manual away and created another that was far more effective in guiding and cooperating with the father’s DNA implanted inside the son. In essence, the same “mind” of the father that was living inside the son was placed before him in finite, written form which was called the New Manual.

Whereas the Old Manual was incredibly detailed and even included curious commands that were only meant to hone the son’s blind obedience and in some way to amplify the son's failures, this New Manual was designed to hone the son’s love and submission to the father inside him. This father actually wanted his son to grow up and reflect himself and he realized that simple obedience to a set of rules would forever keep his son immature and in some ways keep his allegiance to rules and not his father. And so this new father gave birth to a new kind of son, more a son than a servant, and with obedience driven more by love than fear.

These are the New Testament sons of the Living God. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God. Born of the Spirit and completed in the Spirit. An eternal miracle.

trogdor said...

Mike, prohibiting torturing puppies clearly is not legalistic, as it's clear that the Spirit would never lead someone to torture a puppy. Cats, on the other hand...

Anyway, I think a good definition of legalism would incorporate a practical denial of the imputation of Christ's righteousness. I'll leave it to a more accomplished wordsmith to phrase it better, though.

Frank Turk said...

Rick (Henry) said this:

[QUOTE]
if you desire to be approved by obedience to the law you must observe it all.
[/QUOTE]

What if I don't want to be "approved by obedience"? What if I love God and what He has done for me, and seek His commands as the rule of my behavior?

I askin'.

Daryl said...

Rick,

Neat story, but this line gives away your store (at least a little bit).

"This father threw the old manual away and created another that was far more effective in guiding and cooperating with the father’s DNA implanted inside the son."

By what means does the son cooperate? And can the son's brother ever say to him "You're not cooperating brother, see here it says do XYZ, and you're not."

We're still at the same place in the discussion...

Yes, there is a new covenant. Yes, Christ lives in us. But we have 2 natures at war within us (Romans 7:25 So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.) and we must chose one or the other. How do we know when we are chosing the one? When we are obeying the written word.

(And, incidentally, the Father didn't throw away the old, he kep it, at least for reference...)

Mike Riccardi said...

So Trogdor, does the Spirit ever lead someone to go to a movie, or does He ever lead a young lady to wear pants vs. a dress... or sleeveless shirts?

(I'm not advocating one position or the other, just using already provided examples.)

PS - I agree about the cats. That's actually why I chose dogs. ;o)

Daryl said...

Trogdor,

In fact you could probably make a case that torturing cats is the other side of not torturing puppies.

Kind of like "Be not drunk with wine but be filled..." "Do not torture puppies but torture kitties..."

Or is that too legalistic? (maybe you don't HAVE to torture kitties...)

Rick Frueh said...

"What if I don't want to be "approved by obedience"? What if I love God and what He has done for me, and seek His commands as the rule of my behavior?"

That is New Testament Christianity. Obeying Christ's commands, even those that are a written part of both covenants, as love motivated and not law motivated.

You, Frank, are a New Testament believer. I will send you your official document in due time!

I know it sounds nuanced, but in the end Christ will set you free from the law and in a love bondage to Him and the New Testament. What happens when a person says he doesn't want to obey Christ because he is free? Examine yourself to see whether you be in the faith.

Strong Tower said...

"Let's do not completely forget the actual topic. I do think Christian conversation would go further if there could be an accepted definition of "legalist/legalism."

"Here is another definition.
Legalism is anything a person does to gain or maintain one's perceived acceptance before God and then sometimes cast that in stone as a standard for all."

Well, I think, but this is only my opinion, I am not really committed to it is an absolute way, but...

I like this definition of a gracelist: I have stirred him up in righteousness, and I will make all his ways level; he shall build my city and set my exiles free,
not for price or reward,” says the Lord of hosts...For it is he who works in you both the willing and the doing of his good pleasing.

Or in the negative: But (woe to) you who forsake the Lord, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny... which being interpreted means, "Woe unto those who pursue a PDL."

The wormherder who keepeth the can and openeth the lid and lettest those who wigglest out, shall gatherest them again...IOW, The one who started this owes us a definition.

Rick Frueh said...

The son operates in the power of the father inside him. And you are correct, the father kept the old maual in order to teach the glory of the new manual and also to provide historical context to our gracious father.

The old manual can also be used to show those who are not sons that the old manual observers could never be complete sons.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Thanks Mike Riccardi for the post stating that Heb. 10:24-26 is a command.

It would seem that there are significan numbers of (nominal?) believers who don't obey this command.

As Daryl says, all you can do is remind them. If they call you a legalist, shrug your shoulders.

Daryl said...

Rick,

My first question was, how does the son's brother let him know that he's not cooperating as he should?

By pointing him to the written word and saying "You gotta do this" and then, joyfully, the first son goes ahead and does it.

Point is, we, being on this side of glory, obey out of gratitude and joy, true, but also by using the written word as our guide.

Thus disallowing the charge of "legalist" from being laid against those who, written word in hand, say "you can't do that, its ways here...".

'Cause it's not just the old manual that gives directives, the new one does too.

True?

Frank Turk said...

BTW, the basis for "dividing the Law" is not arbitrary. Under the Law, God tells Israel explicitly this:

[QUOTE]
You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean, and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the LORD has spoken to them by Moses.
[/QUOTE] (Lev 10)

And from there, the whole rest of Leviticus is somewhat focused with the contrast between what is clean and what is unclean. It's the distinguishing mark between Israel and the nations:

[QUOTE]
For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people. So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.
[/QUOTE] (Lev 18)

But there's something interesting which happens in the NT, first in Acts:

[QUOTE]
{Peter} became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." But Peter said, "By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean." And the voice came to him again a second time, "What God has made clean, do not call common." This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.
[/QUOTE] (Acts 10)

For which, Peter's interpretation is this:

[QUOTE]
Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
[/QUOTE]

Peter believes that God has eliminated the distinction of Israel/clean Gentile/unclean by the sacrifice of Christ.

But Paul believes it, too:

[QUOTE]
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
[/QUOTE]

Christ obliterates the division:

[QUOTE]
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
[/QUOTE]

And, I think, this is where I have some affinity for my dispensational brothers and sisters: God doesn't ask us to avoid pork or forsake 50/50 shirts anymore -- Christ has done away with that aspect of the Law. But at the same time, Christ has also renovated the other part of the Law not to be a way to earn righteousness, but to be a way of gratitude and demonstrated obedience.

Strong Tower said...

153 Look on my affliction and deliver me,
for I do not forget your law.
154 Plead my cause and redeem me;
give me life according to your promise!
155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
for they do not seek your statutes.
156 Great is your mercy, O Lord;
give me life according to your rules.
157 Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,
but I do not swerve from your testimonies.
158 I look at the faithless with disgust,
because they do not keep your commands.
159 Consider how I love your precepts!
Give me life according to your steadfast love.
160 The sum of your word is truth,
and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

The sum of your word is truth,
and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

You know it is legalism when it is repeated, over, and over, and over... well maybe...

Brrrrr! Chills ya to the dividing apart of soul and spirit (flesh and spirit, or whatever)

Strong Tower said...

To formulate legalism

obedience-> reward

but under grace

obedience=reward

Or, as the Lord put it in Ezekial:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

The statutes remain but a new way is given to walk in them..hallelulu

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Crud. I've done some on-line researching and apparently it's a growing phenomenon among "Christians" to believe that they don't have to or need to attend a local church, while staunchly maintaining that they are genuine and true Christians.

It gives me no pleasure to find another line of division. I believe that Christians are commanded to go to church. And not doing so is rebellion against God.

And there are many, many Christians who would vigorously and vociferously denounce me for thinking that.

Furthermore, I even would go so far as to say that it should be a church of certain doctrinal standards! Now they'll really lock me up in the fundamentalist TeamPyro Kook institution!

I would not and could not recommend anyone to attend a mainline liberal church or a postmodern emerging church. I just have deep, serious concerns about their teaching.

Crud. I'm a legalist. I think Christians need to attend a local assembly of believers. And that this local assembly not be mainline liberals or postmodern emergers. I'm becoming curmudgeony in my old age. Lord, have mercy on me, a legalistic sinner!

Daryl said...

"Crud. I'm a legalist."

That's priceless! I haven't heard (read) 'crud' in forever.

Thanks TUAD.

DJP said...

Re. my highly-esteemed and dearly-loved brother Frank's comments on the law, I quote from the Pyro home page:

"The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of all contributors. Each individual is responsible for the facts and opinions contained in his posts. Generally, we agree. But not always."

Rick Frueh said...

A legalist is someone who wants me to do what I don't want to do.

Daryl said...

Rick,

Right there with ya baby, right there with ya.

So it's been agreed upon and decided. You can believe what you want, you can even disagree with the Pyro-machine, you can even disagree WITHIN the Pyro-machine, but don't ever, EVER tell me that I'm doing something I shouldn't.

After all, isn't the Law and the Prophets summed up in this one verse?

"Dont Judge lest you be Judged"

John H said...

In terms of useful definitions of "legalism", #6 and #17 are probably the most pertinent in the church today. (#3 also applies, obviously, but few people are so crass today as to assert that salvation by personal merit is possible.)

And I suspect it is very common for legalists in the #6/#17 sense to brush aside criticism by claiming that those who oppose them are simply rejecting items 1, 2, 4 through 16 and 18 through 25.

For some reason I'm reminded of the exchange in Spinal Tap: "It's sexist!" - "Well, what's wrong with being sexy?"

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

You're welcome Daryl.

This whole thing started because a commenter (at another blog) said that she doesn't even attend church.

So I asked the questions that I posed before on this thread at 9:09am.

Then a pastor with some amount of influence weighed in and wrote the following:

"I am not sure the phrase “go to” church is helpful. This implies that church is a place that one goes to. The expression of it in our culture is, indeed, one that carries this connotation, but this is not a necessary qualification of “church” (i.e. a place that one goes to)—much less something required by the Bible.

We are not to neglect the gathering together of believers. This can find many expressions and should not be limited to a western idea of “church.”

But if someone does neglect this gathering together, can they be Christian? Of course. It is like asking Can Christians do wrong? Of course we can.

As well, for some, there may not be any believers to gather with."


This pastor who has a following did not want to answer my question about the biblical obligations of a pastor doing Great Commission door knocking with a layperson, and meeting a "Christian" who says that they don't have to attend a local church.

Maybe I'm wrong for thinking that something seems to be amiss here.

Daryl said...

TUAD,

""I am not sure the phrase “go to” church is helpful."

My money's on Paggit for that one...


I don't think you're wrong for thinking something is amiss here. Something is.

Daniel said...

A wrongly informed conscience regards as sinful something that is not.

Legalism happens when this same wrongly informed conscience regards as sinful this same thing in someone else.

That is how I always think of it.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Kewl. Maybe I'm not the only legalist around here. I just found this excerpted quote by Centuri0n in the "Jell-o Parable" blog post:

centuri0n:

-- it is wrong to belong to no church at all. Fooling yourself that you are part of the "invisible church" when you can't find it in yourself to be part of a visible, local body of believers is just a fancy way of disobeying the Bible.
-------

Centuri0n is a legalist too!

;-)

Strong Tower said...

What we need is a unicode. One code to rule them all, one code to find them, one code to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them...

Michelle said...

TUAD:

I just got back in. The author of Hebrews towards the end in Hebrews 13:22 says "But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation ...".

The bottom line is that scripture says we are not to forsake the assembling together. That's good enough for me. Think of all the "one another" verses. Hard to love one another, encourage one another, forgive one another, etc. when you don't meet with one another!

BTW we aren't commanded to "go to church", we are the church. We're just told to assemble together.

So, I agree with you. A little warning bell goes off when a professing Christian says that he/she doesn't need to get together with other Christians. They do need to and they should want to.

Mike Riccardi said...

"I am not sure the phrase 'go to' church is helpful."

My money's on Pagitt for that one...


LOL!

"Ah... aw... see... this just isn't helpful. First cleanse yourself of your dualistic platonism. Then we can have a meaningful conversation."

Rick Frueh said...

And when you construct a gathering on Sunday without the important elements of a "church" gathering, you can "go to church" and not "go to church" simultaneously.

Attend Solomon's porch and "poof", you have deconstructed an ecclesiastical gathering (prayer, Word, praise, etc.) and turned it into an interesting coffee house with a thin veneer of religiousity.

trogdor said...

But if someone does neglect this gathering together, can they be Christian? Of course. It is like asking Can Christians do wrong? Of course we can.

Yep, it's possible to do wrong. But when a professing Christian persists in knowing, unrepentant disobedience, it definitely calls into question whether he has truly been born again (or for our Arminian friends, whether his genuine salvation has been lost).

For example, when a professing Christian lusts and repents, it's a sin that has been "dealt with" properly. When a professing Christian abandons his family for another woman, remains unrepentant without even an outward show of sorrow, and claims that there's nothing wrong or un-Christian with his behavior, well...

So, when someone persists in willful disobedience to one of the simplest commands (one that is foundational to so many others) and attempts to self-justify, you really have to wonder about the genuineness of their conversion.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"I am not sure the phrase 'go to' church is helpful."

My money's on Pagitt for that one...
--------------
Daryl, Mike Riccardi... good thing you don't have any money wagered on that one. It's not Doug Pagitt. It's blogging pastor C. Michael Patton. It's from the post "Are You a Misfit in the Church? What is Wrong with You?"

From: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2008/03/24/are-you-a-different-kind-of-christian-what-is-wrong-with-you

He deleted my original post, but I revised it and re-submitted it with his approval.

My original comment was this:

“I guess I’m starting in a different place than some here. I generally don’t believe in elevating my individual preferences over the collective whole. And then complaining that the collective whole doesn’t meet me where I’m at.

Thus I don’t feel like a misfit at all.

If I’m out of sync with what others are doing, so be it. Why whine about it? Why practice unnecessary self-victimization and cry that I’m a misfit? Isn’t whining that you’re feeling like a misfit a criticism of the local body of believers that you belong to?

So what should the other local believers do once they hear you express that you’re feeling like a misfit? Perhaps everyone should gather in a big circle, have a big emotional vomit session, and then adjust whatever they’re doing so as to accommodate you such that you never feel like a misfit again with that local body of believers.

Would that make you feel better?”

--------------

The Internet Monk had post devoted to interviewing blogging pastor C. Michael Patton:

http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/c-michael-patton-of-reclaiming-the-mind-ministries-the-internet-monk-interview

So CMP does have a following.

P.S. CMP does write some excellent articles! (Just like when Centuri0n posted one of the Internet Monk's blog posts recently.) There's good stuff from CMP; he just occasionally veers off the track. Like we all do.

I'm a gracious legalist.

ezekiel said...

Ok. I am not under the law. No rules, no statutes, no commandments.

My earthly father would tell you that I sort of tried that at home without a lot of success along with more than one or two highly corrective encounters.

He is gone now but as I teach my kids there is a heavenly father that provides the needed discipline in my life today. Most times that isn't very comfortable either.

Can anyone tell me why, if I am not under the law, no rules, no statues, no commandments, why that wood shed gets so hot when I don't follow the rules that aren't there.

Hebrews 12????????????

Daryl said...

Ezekiel,

Perhaps that's why we need to specify, we are not under the MOSAIC law.

We are, however, under the law of Christ.

Mike Riccardi said...

Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

ezekiel said...

Matt 5: 17"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

18"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

19"Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20"For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Daryl said...

That's the thing Mike.

We people-types tend to think that if we're no longer under the law of Moses, then things are somehow less severe or more manageable.

While it is true that his yoke is easy and his burden is light, the abuse of said yoke brings far more severe consequences than Moses ever had.

Thank God that he keeps us from that hour.

Laura said...

"Yep, it's possible to do wrong. But when a professing Christian persists in knowing, unrepentant disobedience, it definitely calls into question whether he has truly been born again (or for our Arminian friends, whether his genuine salvation has been lost)."

Agreed.

Jfranklin6 said...

Legalism is adding conditions over and above that of scripture. Eph 2:8-9 tell you what saves you. If you add circumcision, you have disqualified yourself, because it is no longer dependent on faith alone. Yet after that saving work has been done in you by the hand of God, you will be changed and you will seek to do His will. Your works cannot save you, they are only the symptoms of your soul

candyinsierras said...

Daniel said: A wrongly informed conscience regards as sinful something that is not.

Legalism happens when this same wrongly informed conscience regards as sinful this same thing in someone else.

That is how I always think of it.


Good point Daniel. I think I have a hard time when Reformed Christians act more like Charles Finney in regards to their life in Christ, rather than remember that we are wretches, and we have no righteousness of our own. May we be obedient in our own lives out of delight that we belong to Him, rather than elevating ourselves in our own eyes and the eyes of others by our obedience and self-discipline. Interestingly enough, that idea really gets under the skin of some well self-disciplined Reformed Christians. How can we forget that He chose us, wretched creatures that we are. Anything we receive, we receive by the grace of God, for which we should be thankful, not lord it over other people who we deem less disciplined. I am not talking about liberty, I am talking about being encouraging to others in their walk, not condemning, since God is ever patient with us.

Droll Flood said...

Legalist is one who adds to or takes away from the Word of God to justify themselves before men and God.
Thus it is said legalism and anti-nomianism are really in essence the same thing.

Jugulum said...

Michelle said,
The bottom line is that scripture says we are not to forsake the assembling together. That's good enough for me. Think of all the "one another" verses. Hard to love one another, encourage one another, forgive one another, etc. when you don't meet with one another!

BTW we aren't commanded to "go to church", we are the church. We're just told to assemble together.

So, I agree with you. A little warning bell goes off when a professing Christian says that he/she doesn't need to get together with other Christians. They do need to and they should want to.


I think that's what Patton was saying, too. He would have to define for himself what he meant by this: "We are not to neglect the gathering together of believers. This can find many expressions and should not be limited to a western idea of 'church.'"

That could be a problematic Paggitt-esque notion. But the key point is that we must accept, endorse, and teach the Biblical parameters of what our assembly is supposed to look like--teaching the Word, communion, exercise of spiritual gifts, elders, etc. I would evaluate Patton's words by that standard. (And I agree with TUaD about the need to exhort/rebuke someone who "forsakes the assembly of ourselves together".)

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

'Biblical documentation' > 'ECM conversation'

ezekiel said...

Daryl,

I don't see a lot of difference in the Mosaic law and the law of Christ.

The same person wrote them and both appear to be designed to show us where we transgress and what sin is.

Why then are we told repeatedly to stop sinning in the NT from practically every Apostle?

How do we know what sin is without the law?

The real difference to me is where they were written, one on stone the other on our hearts. That and the ability He gives us through The Helper to follow His commandments and statutes.

Abraham was saved by faith and faith alone. And even that, not of himself. That was 400 some odd years before the mosaic law.

Then the mosaic law, even then a stubborn, stiff necked people refused to worship God alone and to love their neighbor as themselves. They claimed to be blood descendentants of Abraham and thought that assured them salvation.

Then Christ came, a better mediator of better promises. And still a stiff necked stubborn people refuse to Worship Him alone and to love their neighbor as themselves.

Rather we throw around Grace and Mercy like get out of jail cards or sin all you want cards and make the same mistake that Israel did. We worship other gods and live the way we want to, even practice religion like they did.

No wonder he tests the hearts...

Jer 17:10"I, the LORD, search the heart,I test the mind,Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.

Keith (Qoheleth) said...

Dan, thank you for a providentially timely post, and thank you all for all your comments - which I confess I have devoured. I wish I could find a way to thank each one of you personally.

I've been reading (er, lurking) Pyromaniacs for a long time, and have been edified by many of your topics, but this one came on the heels of an unpleasant exchange. Some persons with whom I previously worshipped have taken to use of the word "legalism" to end any discussion on sanctification, growth in Christian maturity, or personal conduct. "You're just a legalist" - end of debate. The result has led to some painful decisions; praise God, this has in turn led to even greater joy in the long run.

The term "legalist" has been used liberally by persons who believe that not only are we free from the Law as regards salvation, but also that we are free from any regulation of our conduct and behavior as Christians, and this is a great error. We and called to not use our freedom as an excuse to continue practicing sin. Christian liberty is not meant to be Christian libertinism, and the Outback Steakhouse slogan of "No Rules, Just Right" has become their doctrine.

All of you in this meta have been a comfort - it's good to know that so many others find this an important enough subject to so actively converse.

If any of you have the time to offer a point of view, I've written about this twice recently: http://s-t-a-n-d.blogspot.com/2008/03/does-church-have-answers.html

and

http://s-t-a-n-d.blogspot.com/2008/03/nicolaitans-of-our-age.html

I'd be grateful to anyone who wanted to share their thoughts - and once again, many thanks to you all -

Michelle said...

Jugulum:

I agree 100%. The term "many expressions" of gathering together could be problematic for sure. Meeting up in a dimly-lit corner of the local sports grill for a steak, drink and "conversation" hardly follows the New Testament model of the assembly of believers.

Any gathering together of believers should be within those Biblical parameters you mentioned. Teaching from the Word by properly qualified elders, prayer, praise, communion, baptism, exercise of spiritual gifts for the edification of the body, etc.

Thanks for pointing that out - it's important.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"And I agree with TUaD about the need to exhort/rebuke someone who "forsakes the assembly of ourselves together".

Oh my goodness Jugulum! Are you a legalist too?! Naughty, naughty, naughty. (j/k!)

(1) You do know, don't you, that if you do exhort/rebuke someone who "forsakes the assembly of ourselves together", you will get a tidal wave of angry Christians denouncing you because they will perceive you as a judgmental legalist.

(2) Suppose you're the typical pewsitter. And you think that any exhortations/rebukes that might not be received well should be handled by the pastoral/elder team.

So you and some other laity kick it up to the undershepherds that there are a bunch of long-time, non-attending members on the church membership roster. You go with one of the pastors on a home visit to a non-attending member.

This person says to you and your Reverend: “I’m a Christian and I don’t attend church. I don’t think I need to. I have read a pastor who wrote that ‘this is not a necessary qualification of “church” (i.e. a place that one goes to)—much less something required by the Bible.’ This other pastor also said that the idea of church ‘can find many expressions and should not be limited to a western idea of “church.’

Furthermore, Reverend, although I really do appreciate you and Jugulum's personal invitation to attend the local church that I'm a member of, I want to let you know that even if I did neglect this corporate gathering for worship, the pastor that I read on-line says, ‘of course, I am still a Christian.’”

You, Jugulum, now look at your pastor for biblical leadership in this situation. He demurs, saying something like, "Thank you for meeting with us. We miss you at church. Hope to see you there sometime."

Jugulum, there's no exhortation, no rebuke by your pastor to this non-attending church member.

Question for the hypothetical: Jugulum, did this pastor do his biblical duty for this non-attending church member? For you? For God?

Jugulum, what would you say to your pastor on the drive back?

Rick Frueh said...

"I don't see a lot of difference in the Mosaic law and the law of Christ."

How about one (Mosaic) was meant to lead us to the other (Christ).

How about one had commandments like no two materials in one coat and no picking up sticks on Saturday.

How about one (Moses) was a sinful conduit the other (Christ) was God.

How about one (Moses) had a high priest who needed a Savior the other (Christ) had a High Priest who was the Savior.

Just to mention a few.

Jugulum said...

TUaD:

you will get a tidal wave of angry Christians denouncing you because they will perceive you as a judgmental legalist.

Yep! We need to patiently, firmly correct those angry Christians. They need to move away from the 4/5/8/9/12/13/19/21/22/24 definitions of "legalist", and toward the 3/6/25 definitions.

Question for the hypothetical: Jugulum, did this pastor do his biblical duty for this non-attending church member? For you? For God?

For the non-attender? No. He should have explained the Biblical teaching on the need to assemble together, and what should be part of that assembly.

For me? Uh, I'm not sure what duty to me he failed...Perhaps he failed in the duty of being a good example.

For God? No, he should be upholding God's standards.

To answer a question you didn't ask: What would I say to the non-attender in that circumstance?

I would tell her exactly what I said to Michelle, fleshing out the Biblical standards for what "assembly together" consists of. I would say, if this online pastor simply meant that "church==a distinct building that we label 'church'" is not a Biblical qualification, then this online pastor is right. But if he was excusing failure to assemble together, he was very very wrong.

And having read this online pastor's post, and having listened to his discussion of ecclesiology, I would respectfully suggest that she is misusing his words. Because I haven't seen anything in what he said that steps outside the Biblical standards for "assembly".

ezekiel said...

Rick,

In several instances in the NT we are told that the OT and the error of Israel written there is an example for us so that we don't do the same thing. following is one of those, there is more in Hebrews and Peter.

1 Cor 10 1For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;
2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

3and all ate the same spiritual food;

4and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.

5Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.

6Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.

7Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, "(THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY."

8Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.

9Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.

10Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.

11Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

12Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.

13No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

14Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

15I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say.

Now time and space prohibit me from taking a shot at all your examples but lets take one. The sticks on Sunday. If you do your research, you will find that the sin wasn't the act of picking up sticks but the act of picking up sticks after he had been told not to. Intentional sin. That is covered in Hebrews, today we call it outraging the spirit of Grace, I think.

We can ignore the example and call it Grace and Mercy but I think we do that at great peril. If you really want to argue the finer points of the law, Why don't you see if you can find any of it pertaining to the treatment of personal attacks or personal harm that doesn't exist in some form in our civil law today. Eye for an Eye and replacing the neighbors ox if we kill it sort of thing.

Blessings

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Crud. It's happened twice in two weeks on TeamPyro. A useful word has been sucked dry of useful communicable content, and now the only way to use the word, is to very carefully define it, and to qualify its usage for the appropriate contexts.

Otherwise, you'll run into the very real problem of deep misunderstandings occuring or an equivocational fallacy occuring.

Those two words that have been emptied (Courtesy of PJ and DJP):

Contextualization and Legalist

Rick Frueh said...

The error is simply unbelief.

The picking up sticks on Saturday commandment and all the rest were to show the Jews and us that we cannot keep the law.(Peter in Acts)
So if we cannot keep the law we need redemption which brings the blood sacrifice. It all leads to Christ.

Bryan Riley said...

Hmmm, do I pick the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or do I pick the fruit from the tree of life. Choose life in Christ = freedom. Choose the ability to judge others as though you are God = bondage to legalism.

ezekiel said...

Rick,

Numbers 15:28 And the priest shall make atonement before the Lord for the person who makes a mistake, when he sins unintentionally, to make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. 29 You shall have one law for him who does anything unintentionally, for him who is native among the people of Israel and for the stranger who sojourns among them. 30 But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. 31 Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him. 32 While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33 And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation. 34 They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him. 35 And the Lord said to Moses, The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp. 36 And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the Lord commanded Moses.

Was this pointing to Christ or was this Christ making an example for us to see. Intentional sin in the OT was a very bad thing. Do you suppose Christ has changed and looks at intentional sin differently today?

Hebrews 10:26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, Vengeance is mine; I will repay. And again, The Lord will judge his people.

Sounds like the same Lord to me. And for what it is worth, Your argument "just showing us we can't keep the law" sounds just like the same argument we use today. "We are just a sinner, saved by grace and we can't live holy, without sin". So we deny the power of Christ within us to enable us to live a holy life. Never mind all the scripture telling us that we fulfill the law by loving our neighbor or even the scripture telling us to stop sinning.

1 Cor 15:34 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

1 Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy. 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

Jugulum said...

Bryan,

Who here do you think is choosing "the ability to judge others as though you are God"?

Strong Tower said...

"Do you suppose Christ has changed and looks at intentional sin differently today?"

Well, ya, he has, and he does.

"Sounds like the same Lord to me. And for what it is worth, Your argument "just showing us we can't keep the law" sounds just like the same argument we use today. "We are just a sinner, saved by grace and we can't live holy, without sin". So we deny the power of Christ within us to enable us to live a holy life. Never mind all the scripture telling us that we fulfill the law by loving our neighbor or even the scripture telling us to stop sinning."

Here is a great sermon on Justification, you know that thing that Jesus did for us where his death became our death and his perfect life became ours.

emmaus said...

Legalism = an absence of grace.

Rick Frueh said...

"Was this pointing to Christ or was this Christ making an example for us to see"

I am not sure about your point. The law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, are you saying it was not? And about being a sinner saved by grace, well, I'm voting yes! You said:

"We are just a sinner, saved by grace and we can't live holy, without sin"

Are you saying it is possible to live sinless on earth? Ultimately are you saying we are under the Mosaic law today as believers?

DJP said...

Keith (qoheleth), quite right.

Legalism is bad.
I call you a legalist.
You are bad.

It's become the ultimate conversation-ender, particularly when the conversation is closing in on a sin I don't want fingered.

ezekiel said...

Rick,
”I am not sure about your point. The law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, are you saying it was not? And about being a sinner saved by grace, well, I'm voting yes! You said:

"We are just a sinner, saved by grace and we can't live holy, without sin"

Are you saying it is possible to live sinless on earth? Ultimately are you saying we are under the Mosaic law today as believers”?

It really is not important what I say but what scripture says. We have been hearing all day what you think but what does scripture say?


Question # 1
Romans 6 1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. ff

And

Romans 7:12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

And

1 John 3 1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

Question #2
1 1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith:Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. 8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

And

1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy. 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for
All flesh is like grass

and all its glory like the flower of grass.

The grass withers,

and the flower falls,
25
but the word of the Lord remains forever.
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Now we call it the law of Moses but really now, who actually wrote it? Where did the 10 commandments really come from? And He says He never changes in Mal 3.

Mosaic law, blood of goats, lambs, heifers and such no, the perfect sacrifice has come. But the 10 commandments. Certainly. Without doubt. No question what so ever.

ezekiel said...

Strong Tower,

Can you just go ahead and paraphrase your first link. I am a little to tired to try to dig it out or read your mind tonight.

As far as you second, again, too tired to listen to Phil tonight. It is easier if you will just give me the scripture.

Thanks

SolaMeanie said...

I am sitting here wondering how I've managed to stay out of this argument, and it's been an interesting one. This has the potential of going to several hundred comments unless the guys pull the plug early.

Strong Tower said...

Zeke- Tetelestai, it is finished. Once and for all, so we now look to the archegos, the first leader and the teleiotes, the perfector.

It is over Zeke, there is nothing left for you to do, time to enter into his rest.

Therefore: "...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God... But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

The faith we have is sure and certain, the very hope that we hope for is ours now a present possession. It is not something that we are not, but it is what we are, a vital living union with the Lord. If he could die, then we might fall away. But, our hope is this: Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those who run after another god shall mulltiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

It is finished, Zeke, come home....

Qjay said...

Hee hee ... "Evanjellybean..." I'm sooooo stealing that one

ezekiel said...

Strong Tower,

Thanks for your concern but I am home. And I am in His rest.

Jude 1: 3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. 5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. 8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, The Lord rebuke you. 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion. 12 These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. 14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him. 16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. 17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions. 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

And Finally

Hebrews 3:12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said,
Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.
16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.


All this Grace and Mercy preaching has encouraged folks to justify a continuance in a life of sin. They use grace as a license to commit all sorts of sin.

What that really comes down to is unbelief and hearts hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. If they didn't enter into his rest because of this in Israel, they won't do it in the church either. It is called unbelief, disobedience and rebellion by a stiff necked, hard hearted people.

4 And he said to me, Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them. 5 For you are not sent to a people of foreign speech and a hard language, but to the house of Israel— 6 not to many peoples of foreign speech and a hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to such, they would listen to you. 7 But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me. Because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. 8 Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. 9 Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.

Strong Tower said...

Zeke-

"All this Grace and Mercy preaching has encouraged folks to justify a continuance in a life of sin. They use grace as a license to commit all sorts of sin."

Whose they? When you sin, do you justify it? When you sin do you always sin without intent? And, if you sin with intent, are you one of the they? What has caused you to be that way? Surely it has not be the preaching of the law was it? What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Legalism kills, is Paul's point, Zeke. The law impinges upon us, but we have been set free from its penalty, becaue we have already died in Christ. There is now no condemnation, because the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death. Do you believe that, that a person who is in Christ, though they sin, are still free?

I offered you peace, and you say you have it, but, you don't sound like it. You sound as if you're fearful that you might be one dem. Or, are you afraid that when we speak of grace, that we might be one dem?

Do you have liberty? Are you in control or is God? Now, to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy..., you quoted it...

Do you believe this or not? You stopped your quoting out of Hebrews, let me fill some in: "Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation."

There is no one here I know that teaches licenteousness, but most who write here teach or confess liberty and the freedom for which Christ has set us free. When I read what you write, there is little of that. There is a lot of condemnation. So, I gave you two links. One to yesterday's post. A good one. One in which we learn of the reality of the crucifixion, of its demands and its comfort. It is fixed now, our salvation is anchored in the finished work of Christ, it cannot be taken from us. The second is a sermon by Phil on the Great Exchange, its a good sermon. Ergo, my question, have you been raised to newness of life? His life, not yours. Are you trusting in him, as you have quoted, to do what is necessary, for you.

Or, perhaps to state it as Paul: For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Where do you see yourself. On the surface of the ocean of his love, sort of bobbing along, or do you see yourself in the center of it and that ocean of love stretching out in all directions into infinity? Can you possibly find anyway to consume it? Or even begin to see the edges of it? Do you know: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Can you bring any charge against yourself? Are you able to separate your self from his love. If the answer is yes. Then my offer still stands: Come home, find rest. Then you might find the temper of good metal that is able to give sound warning and rebuke, with love and compassion and encouragement.

For that is what our Lord, and his teachers do.

Kent Brandenburg said...

#8 heard most

Stefan said...

151 comments and counting, and I missed the whole show, the mother of all discussion topics! Man! ("Discussion" is not a sullied the word the way "conversation" is, is it?)

#16 and #17 strike me as being plausibly valid uses of the term, although #16 would have to be strictly defined to be assessed for its validity, and #17 is more of an emotional assessment than a, er, legal definition of "legalist." (According to me, which makes me a legalist!)

I did like #19, though: "Anyone who goes to church when he doesn't feel like it." I have to honestly say that I never wake up and think on Sunday morning, "I really want to skip church today, but I'll go anyhow because I won't get to heaven if I don't," but I'm sure most of us at one time or another have had to struggle against sickness or fatigue to muster up the strength to make it to church that day. I did miss it one Sunday since I was born again, though, because I really was too darn sick.

Stefan said...

D'oh! I missed #3! That's probably the only unassailably valid definition in the list. I'd lean towards #6 as well, but with Daryl's clarification up near the top of this thread.

Stefan said...

There was a discussion upthread about the distinction between moral and ceremonial laws.

I'll just point out for the sake of reference that the distinction (between moral, ceremonial, and civil ["judicial"] laws) dates back at least to Chapter 19 of the Westminster Confession of Faith. (The linked text also has prooftexts.)

The same Chapter 19 ("Of the Law of God") is retained substantially as is, in the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession.

Stefan said...

By the dating of the distinction between the different divisions of the Law, I mean the actual analysis of the Law into parts, and the assignment of names to those different parts. The Westminster Divines—and presumably the Particular Baptists as well—would obviously have argued that God Himself ordained the divisions.

Stefan said...

Dan: Four comments, no deletions. I'm getting better!

Time to go to sleep.

DJP said...

Qjay — "evanjellybean" is good, isn't it?

That's why I stole it!

Rick Frueh said...

Zeke - pasting voluminous amounts of Scripture as a subtle suggestion that they support whatever your view is reminds me of Spurgeon. He was once challenged to a debate with a man who espoused infant baptism. The rules for the debate were that they could only quote Scripture as support for their side.

As the debate began, the man rose and said first, "For my first Scripture to support infant baptism I quote from the lips of our Lord who said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not"".

He then sat down. Spurgeon rose and said "For my first Scripture refuting infant baptism I quote from the Old Testament, "There was a man from the land of Uz named Job"". And Spurgeon sat down.

The man jumped up and said to Sprugeon "What did that Scripture have to do with infant baptism??"

Spurgeon smiled at him and replied, "Sir, what did your Scripture have to do with infant baptism?"


So in keeping with that type of voluminous Scripture posting to supposedly support your view, I refer you to the entire Bible which I subtly insinuate supports all my views!!

Checkmate.

::)) lol

DJP said...

Great discussion!

And now, my thoughts.

Historically, the term was probably most frequently used in sense #3. It seems to me that the other most legitimate use would be sense #25, with a respectful nod to senses #6 and 17. However, the better word for #6 would probably be "traditionalist," and for #17 "arrogant, blind jerk."

However, I've heard or seen them all. Most frequently, senses 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 — okay, well, honestly, all of them.

The charge of "legalist" has become an evanjellybeanical trump-card of sorts.

Legalism is bad (we're clear on that much), and so if anything anyone says makes us feel bad, a quick, shorthand way to condemn him, shut him up, and make ourselves feel better about our sin or slovenly sluggardly slackness — and make ourselves look good in the bargain! — is to call the Christian who's trying to talk Biblical sense to us a "legalist."

Once again, fuzzy refusal to define terms overcomes all.

ezekiel said...

Rick,

I have a funeral to attend to day, won't be able to continue this but it has been interesting and I appreciate the opportunity for discussion.

The answer as you say is in the entire bible. The WORD. What I have been trying to communicate is just that. Today, we have a tendency to highlight the differences between the OT and NT, Israel and the Church. When I read it (the whole counsel) I see more similarity than I see difference.

Jesus delivered Israel from the bondage Egypt
(the world) via the Red Sea and through the leadership of Moses by many signs and wonders. Yet Israel died in the wilderness for unbelief. If that doesn't scare you, it does me. Here is nation that witnessed things we find amazing and full of jaw dropping awesome power. Yet they still did not enter into His rest because of unbelief.

Jesus followed that up with even another awesome display of His love and His power. He became flesh and dwelt among us. He became the ultimate sacrifice, died on the cross and was raised after three days. We, through more eye witnesses like John, Matthew, Luke know the story and say we believe. The real question, I think is do we believe the way Israel believed when they saw their deliverance or do we believe in a way that will allow us to enter into His rest? Heb 3. Is our belief consistent with His works that He has promised to do in us? Do we bear good fruit as part of the Branch in John 15?

Or do we produce dead works like Israel did? Practice a religion that says It is ok to sin intentionally, live like the world, be like the world in every aspect of our lives but claim belief in a Holy God that hates sin today just as much as he did then.

I have quoted a lot of scripture from the NT that seems to indicate that Just as Israel was supposed to be, we are to be different, called apart, Holy, washed in the blood of Christ. Yet what I see when I look at it is we as a church have pulled out one verse or two verses that say we are free from the law and then we live like it. Totally lawless and claiming His grace and His Mercy will cover everything.

I don't know about you but I hear the sound of Nubuchadnezzar, Senacharib, and the Assyrians in the distance. (Revelations, the valley of decision, Armegeddon). They won't prevail against the church, we know that. The real question is are we really part of the church or are we living in Jerusalem and just claiming to be part of the church. Do we believe as Israel did or do we really believe?

Do we halt between 2 opinions or have we chosen to follow Baal?

There was a lot of Grace and Mercy in the OT. Even when Jerusalem was surrounded and under siege. He withheld his rod of correction many times and sent the prophets to warn them. We know how that turned out.

Jesus promises a whole lot of bad things in the NT as well and He delivered the message personally. God is coming back to his vineyard one day to claim his fruit. We have killed His messengers and His son. I don't know about you but I am going to ask for all the grace I need to be able to repent from my sin, believe with a faith that can only come from Him through His Grace and trust Him to produce His fruit through me. If, when I examine myself, find myself to be producing sin and unholy living, I am going to ask for more grace and more cleansing of the Word so that I can present myself a sacrifice. I don't view grace so much as a license to sin but power to cleanse and make Holy.

Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

ezekiel said...

Strong Tower,

You say legalism kills, I say unbelief kills. I don't see folks here using grace as a license so much but to look around and not be able to see that there are those that do is really having your head in the sand. Maybe some of them have been watching our exchange. Thanks for your comments! Rest assured my soul is safe and in good hands.

If anything I have said implies that Phil, Dan or Frank hold a loose view of grace and mercy, it certainly was not intentional. I have found them to be champions of the faith and tireless contenders for the same.

No where have I said that following rules or commandments will save us. (legalsism)

However, He that began a good work will finish it and He produces His fruit through me if I am truly a part of the vine. If, when we examine the fruit is stinks a little or is molded, then I think we better be looking back at our connection to the vine. He doesn't produce sin and disobedience in us.

johnMark said...

Okay, I haven't had a chance to read all of the comments, but has anyone said "Southern Baptists" yet? :)

How about binding the conscience of another where Scripture doesn't.

Mark

candyinsierras said...

Dan. But another trump card that gets used, especially against Reformed Christians, is the "license to sin because of grace" trump card, and the perceived remedy is to act more holy, more disciplined, more outward showing of righteousness. Sometimes the guilt trip is employed in making others come under a person's definition of what "holy living" implies. The scripture gets quoted that "faith without works is dead", and people who have great self-discipline seem to fall into this the most.

I have a hard time sometimes knowing how to be pleasing in my walk from a sincere heart that desires to be closer to God for HIS glory, and a walk where I feel like I might be MORE accepted by God and others. I guess I don't know too many Christians who don't desire to be pleasing to God, and in fact see their lives as not changing fast enough. I know I see the lives of commendable Christians and wish I could be as in love with Jesus as they seem to be. Perhaps someone sees my life and wishes the same thing, but only God and I know the real wretchedness within, that taints my motives and my works of righteousness. Is there anything in us which we can truly boast?

Mike Leake said...

First, let me say this...I did not read every comment...a little busy today. So, I apologize if this has been addressed after the half way point or so...

I love the definition given by CJ Mahaney for legalism, that Greg Long provided for us: "Legalism is seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and justfitication before God through obedience to God"

In my opinion that is THE definition for legalism. Everything else should be put under a different umbrella. I have been called a legalist more than a few times b/c of the movies that I refuse to watch, etc. One of my roomates in college (also refraining from such activites) once said, "there is a difference between legalism and holiness". What a great point. But I do have one question...is there another word that we can use for the guy that is such a stick in the mud, and he refuses to have any fun, etc. He's not trying to "earn" salvation by what he does and does not do...he's trying to "be holy". But it is obvious to everyone around him that he is not really holy, he just needs to take an enema. Is there another word that we can use for this besides legalist?

candyinsierras said...

But it is obvious to everyone around him that he is not really holy, he just needs to take an enema.

Now THAT is funny!

Strong Tower said...

um Anal Rententive?

Now that just impactualized. It makes me uncomfortable just thinking of it.

pat howell said...

Personally, I have always liked this one; "A legalist is anyone whose standards are higher than mine."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

DJP: "The charge of "legalist" has become an evanjellybeanical trump-card of sorts.

Legalism is bad (we're clear on that much), and so if anything anyone says makes us feel bad, a quick, shorthand way to condemn him, shut him up, and make ourselves feel better about our sin or slovenly sluggardly slackness — and make ourselves look good in the bargain! — is to call the Christian who's trying to talk Biblical sense to us a "legalist."

Once again, fuzzy refusal to define terms overcomes all."

I KNEW THAT!!!

Why didn't you just say that before? >150 comments to tell me something I already knewwwwwwW!

Heh, heh.... you teaser.

ChosenClay said...

Legalist or Literalist

Take your pick!

wenxian said...

Rick,

[So in keeping with that type of voluminous Scripture posting to supposedly support your view, I refer you to the entire Bible which I subtly insinuate supports all my views!!

Checkmate.]

What spurgeon was doing was reminding the man that his verse was taken out of context. Zeke was quoting in context and the pasting of volumes was to show, with finality, what the Lord thinks about the issue. What we think is not even relevant if it contradicts what the Lord says

The Lord had spoken so that we know exactly what he likes and what he hates, and what he makes permissible but ought not be forced. This is to condemn the sins in (all) of us and allow grace to be dispensed.

How can there be grace without the law? The law must exist, but grace is grace. It is neither earned nor demanded. To presume upon (more) grace and to think that the law does not apply to us would be likely threading on arrogance.

Should we not work out our salvation with trembling and fear? The Lord is Lord and is Holy; He deserves awe and reverence from us. So the Law (moral, not ceremonial) must be followed because it applies to all: Christians do not get an excuse because they are Christians and it was written that not a single iota/dot would be lost.

If not a single dot would be lost, it is there, exist and relevant to us. We do not pick and choose our God. God picks and chooses us. If God says _______ (moral law), do it.

Shining as Stars
12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16as you hold out[c] the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

[Philippians 2]
12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

If you look at v14, it tells us to do everything. What is 'everything'? Contextually, 'everything' is only what God has said and written in his Bible; for the purpose of sanctifying us; as written in v15-16

[15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe]

So in conclusion, following God's all of commands and moral law is not a legalist; it is christian.

To give up following the Law just because we can't follow everything is not what the Lord said. To give up is a clear demonstration of a lack of faith. It sounds harsh but i speak the truth in love here.

When the Lord says do it, we do it. We know we will fail somewhere. However, we follow the Lord's commands not because they can be followed perfectly; we follow because He said follow and pray that God will guide the way and help us in our faults. That's faith.

terriergal said...

PURPOSE DRIVEN PEOPLE...!

oh and anyone who thinks watching I Love Lucy and laughing at the Vitameatavegamin skit just might be sinful...is getting a little carried away with the legalism/moralism thing...

And now coming to you from Camarillo CA...

"Lucy's Vitameatavegamin Approach to Purpose"
3.17.08 Purpose Lucy Vitameatavegamin.mp3 (6.10 MB)

"Why would Pastor Jim's son Seth protest when his mother balked at Lucille Ball's classic re-run called "Vitameatavegamin" recently? Listen to "Soul Break" teacher Jim Johnson's analysis of purposeless listening. The message opens a series on "Purpose."

Strong Tower said...

When the Lord says do it, we do it.(Not willingly: "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want (thelo: to will, determine to do) to go.” We know we will fail somewhere (Actually we know we will always fail: For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do). However, we follow the Lord's commands not because they can be followed perfectly; we follow because He said follow and pray that God will guide the way and help us in our faults. That's faith. (Actually we don't, or at least we shouldn't ask for help in the "let's push together, one, two, three", sense. It should be along these lines: "And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules."

So actually, that is not faith. It is for those who think that God adds to our efforts grace so that we can work cooperatively with him to achieve his ends, but that would be more Romanist, or Methodistic perfectionism and not the Faith of the reformers.

We follow the commandments, not because they are written, but because they are right. And not for reward, or payment, and not slavishly out of compulsion by fear of condemnation, but of love, and that, not of ourselves, but that which has been shed abroad in our hearts such that we love him and our neighbor, fulfilling the whole law and the prophets, perfectly.

Daryl said...

"Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want"
...
Umm S.T. that's not about keeping the law, it's about how Peter was going to die...

Strong Tower said...

Umm no, it is about wanting to do our own thing as opposed to doing what God wants. And unless another girds us about and carries (phero) us. The word has the connotation of as a wind carries something along. But it simply means to carry another's burden. The word will, thelo, is simply that. It was not according to Peter's will that he would follow, but as a burden is tied up and and taken not by its own will.

If you think that this is speaking of the Peter's executioners, well, you might want to think back to the Lord's crucifixion, where it was his Father's will that he was bound, beaten and crucified even though it was done by the hands of men. Jesus himself prayed that if there were any other way, even though he knew not. Peter was a man and not the Son of Man, and like any of us, unless God by his Spirit causes us, we will not go.

So even in the case that it is merely speaking to you of the logistics of Peters death. I believe, it is by the predictive will of God, that these things are done, and not by will of man, and in this case, and knowing Peter, not by Peter's willingness.

Strong Tower said...

P.S.- what I was alluding to was ability to keep what ever commandment, even the commandment that to follow him we must lay down our lives.

Daryl said...

S.T.

John 21: 18-19

Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." 19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!


According to John, Peter's death is exactly what Jesus was talking about...I'm not saying your conclusions are wrong, only that you need to ought not take things out of context to arrive at those conclusions.

Daryl said...

"..you need to ought not.."

Wha? My high school English teacher would be unimpressed...

Strong Tower said...

daryl- "I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."

I did not deny the prophetic context. But, that is the point. Jesus also said: "lead you where you do not want to go."

The curious thing about the law, not the law of Mose's but the law of righteousness, is that our flesh by nature balks at it. We must then be "dressed by another" and phero'ed, taken where we would not if it was left to us to go.

That was the connection I was making: the same operation of the Spirit that causes us to walk according to the statutes, is the Same operation of the Spirit that causes us to walk according to the prophetic will of God. And, I would go further: "...for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Such that, all that we do and are are his good pleasure.

So, I was not taking it out of context, I fully understand its contextual meaning. But, I also understand the principle that is operating in the context. And that is not out of context.

Strong Tower said...

Your syntax didn't assault, I understood. Yoda would understand.

Daryl said...

Yoda understands everything.

(Again, we agree to disagree...and I can live with that, it's not exactly life changing)

wenxian said...

Strong tower,

I think you misunderstand my section. I don't think i'm being romish or methodist or whateveish other than reformish.

God is by definition good. Because He is Good, all that he commands is good (even if it sounds real stupid to society in general). And also, his commands are good, righteous and sufficient and perfect, we follow them not only because they are good, but because they are to be followed.

When i say that the Law ought to be followed because it was commanded, it does not make the Law any less good than it should be.

Christians follow the law beause they are both good (defined by God, not us) and also because they are to be followed.

In the event we think (when sinning for example) that God's commands suck, we still must follow because it is necessary to do so. The law applies to all men, because the God who made them will apply the laws to all men. Just that Christ paid the penalty in full (to Himself) and thus rendered those whom He saved free from the penalty of the law, but not the obligation of it (moral law). Not that obeying the law earns us anything though.

Whether we think God's law is good or not has no bearing to the Law. It will still exist as the Law no matter what, and will apply to us as an obligation no matter what. Our Lord does not show favortism.

- - -
Btw S.T.,

(Not willingly: "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want (thelo: to will, determine to do) to go.”

Erm that verse has -zero- relevance on what i have said. I'm sorry but you've misread me. Pls read again.

(Actually we know we will always fail: For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do).

Erm? If i didn't get you wrong, you seem to be refuting for the sake of refuting. If you read the context, i am saying exactly what you are saying about us being absolutely unable to be perfect. Thx for the verses though.

when i use 'we' in the phrase "we know we will fail somewhere", i meant the reformers in general. Unless you think the reformers don't think they they will fail somewhere!

(Actually we don't, or at least we shouldn't ask for help in the "let's push together, one, two, three", sense. It should be along these lines: "And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.")

In the practical sense, we just do what God tells us and God will help us in our shortcomings. In the theorectical/spiritual sense, i have always affirmed that man is utterly incapable of following God.

I have made the assumption i was talking to a christian who has already been saved. I guess it was not communicated clearly. S.T. i believe your answer was based on the assumption that i was referring to ALL men. Well no. I am not. I am referring to saved christians who already have the Spirit.

What i as alluding to, btw was the principle of 1 Corinthians 10, esp verse 13. I believe Paul was talking to Christians who were already saved.

1 Corinthians 10
Warnings From Israel's History
1For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3They all ate the same spiritual food 4and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
6Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: "The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry." 8We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

11These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

When i write that we (christians) ought to follow the law because it is a command, its a fact. I did not say we do it unwillingly. Nowhere can you find me saying that.

So ST i hope you won't put nuances in my words where there isn't, and honestly, i feel quite maligned. I hope i have clarified myself.

Charles E. Whisnant said...

I AM A CHRISTIAN EVEN IF I.......

keith said...

I think we're often backwards in how we define a legalist. We say that someone who loves the law too much is a legalist. I think in every day usage, someone is a legalist who tries to break the law while, in his mind, keeping the law. For example, "the speed limit is 55, but if I go that slow, I'll be making the road more dangerous for other people, so to avoid killing someone, I'm going to speed."

Essentially, you're just doing what you want to do, but rationalizing that you are, in some way, keeping the law.

In that way, I think legalism and antinomianism are really just two branches on the same tree.

Steve Scott said...

I hear numbers 6 and 25 most often, and think they best represent what a legalist is.

Bryan Riley said...

jugulum,

I wasn't saying that anyone was doing so; as soon as I did I would be enjoying the fruit myself. I was answering the question of the post. I apologize that my answer was apparently too cryptic and may have been misunderstood.

frickfricker said...

Legalism: Here are laws/rules on what to do to be saved (or achieve higher status).
Libertine: Here are laws/rules on what CAN be done without LOSING salvation (or higher status). Both sin by focusing on the rules over the rulegiver.

As a personal example, when a church member divorced her puportedly believing (albeit jerk) husband, the pastor tossed aside scripture for GRACE.

Other pastors in the area (Northwest Arkansas BTW, heavily influenced by tons of error right now) allow women to teach and hold positions of authority in violation of many scriptures calling their detractors legalists.

The fault of their argument, going back to what Rick Frueh said, is confusing legalism for SALVATION versus obedience for MATURITY. We are to obey Christ for maturity, not to gain salvation or rank.

Charles E. Whisnant said...

The person who doesn't view some behavior as sin, will say its legalism, the person who holds some behaviour as sin, is Biblical.

Some would say to me, "Pastor you are just too legalist"! While I would say, its only Biblical.