Avoid legalism.....

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Iconoclast, Mar 20, 2016.

  1. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast
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    In a related blog this might be helpful here on Baptistboard;
    Avoid Legalism: Emphasize the Law
    Posted on March 15th, 2016, by Tom Hicks

    [​IMG]Many of today’s young evangelicals have happily thrown off the legalistic fundamentalism of their childhood. They’ve come to a greater understanding of God’s abundant grace, and the gospel has liberated them from slavery to guilt and fear. That’s a very good thing. But I submit that recovering the gospel alone isn’t enough to keep legalism at bay. We need a renewed emphasis on the law of God or else legalism will inevitably reemerge. Specifically, we need a clear emphasis on (1) the law as a covenant, and (2) the law as a standard or rule.

    The Law as a Covenant

    The law as a covenant says, “Do this and live” (Lev 18:5; Ez 20:11; Lk 10:28; Rom 10:5; Gal 3:12). It demands perfect obedience for eternal life (Gal 3:12; 5:3). It makes no provision for forgiveness of sins (Gal 3:10). The law covenant is inflexible and absolute. Even one sin against the law covenant brings guilt and eternal condemnation. That means we’re all condemned in the court of the law covenant because we’re all sinners. The good news is that Christ’s perfect obedience to the terms of the law covenant brings justification and eternal life for all who belong to Him.

    If, however, we forget the law covenant’s strict requirement of perfect obedience for justification and eternal life, then we’ll inevitably start to think that we can imperfectly keep the law for our justification and eternal life. This isn’t theoretical. N.T. Wright, popular among many evangelicals, teaches that we initially receive justification and life by grace, but we retain our justification and life by a kind of imperfect soft-obedience to the law. Wright, and those who follow him, have forgotten the strict demands of the law as a covenant.

    Evangelicals who follow Wright on his doctrine of justification will find themselves re-enslaved to the legalism from which they thought they were liberated. They’ll try to keep the law to retain God’s saving love and favor. They’ll fear losing Christ and His good graces; so, they’ll perform. Moreover, the works they do won’t really be “good” because they won’t flow from faith resting in Christ’s complete satisfaction of the terms of the law as a covenant. “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23).

    The Law as a Standard or Rule

    In Christ, we’re free from the law as a covenant! That means we’re free from trying to keep the law for our justification, and we’re free from trying to keep the law to avoid condemnation. But we’re not free from the law as a standard or rule.

    After Christ justifies us, He graciously points us to His good law as our guide in sanctification. Christ teaches believers to express their love for Him and for others by learning to keep the standard of His law more and more.

    The law of God is the very definition of how we’re to love God and men. And in Christ, the law cannot hurt us. It cannot destroy or condemn us because we’re already justified. It merely shows us the way to love, enjoy, and commune with the Christ who bought us. The law of God is the Christian’s “rule of walking” faithfully in Christ. Romans 7:12 says, “The law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” Paul says, “I delight in the law of God in my inner being” (Rom 7:22). Romans 8:4 says that Christ satisfied the law so that “the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.”

    If we don’t emphasize the law as the sufficient standard of faithful conduct, then we’ll start to make up our own standards in sanctification. This is legalism.
    Preachers will teach “practical” ways of applying the gospel that aren’t anchored in God’s law but only in their own experiences and preferences. That’s authoritarianism.

    Church cultures, rather than God’s law, will tell us how to live in light of the gospel.

    Extra-biblical emphases and practices will arise by the “leading of the Spirit,” while God’s own law is marginalized.


    If young evangelicals don’t emphasize and apply the biblical doctrine of God’s law, they’ll inevitably be re-enslaved to the legalism from which they were liberated.

    The Bible teaches “through the law comes knowledge of sin,” (Rom 3:20), “where there is no law, there is no transgression” (Rom 4:15), and “sin is not counted where there is no law” (Rom 5:13). The doctrine of Christian liberty is based on the Bible’s doctrine of the law. If we lose the doctrine of law, then we’ll lose our liberty. We will become legalists again. But when we emphasize the law of God, we’ll be free from all extra-biblical commandments to walk wisely in light of His sufficient commands.

    The gospel alone isn’t enough to keep us from legalism. The law of God, correctly understood as a covenant and a standard or rule, is a necessary and powerful protection from legalism.
     
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  2. HAMel

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    iconoclast..., I 'gree wif ya!

    There needs to be structure in everything we engage in. Just consider the "laws" of nature. At the same time being burdened down with "unreasonable laws" is exactly that. A burden, which stifles any reasonable progress.
     
  3. Iconoclast

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    The man made artificial laws keep us from actual obedience to God. If we actually did what God calls us to our churches and fellowship might thrive.
     
  4. Pastor_Bob

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    Just so we know exactly how to approach the subject, could you give us some examples of these man-made artificial laws that are not rooted in scripture or scriptural principles?
     
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  5. HAMel

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    iconoclast..., this is my position when it comes to a family owned and controlled church. Hey, is the church there for the Glory of God..., or for the ruling family? If the church was ever dedicated to the Lord at it's conception then the ruling family needs to go away. Relinquish control.

    Pastor Bob..., I would venture the best example of "man-made artificial laws" could obviously be extended to include "attitudes" of some. Especially to those who rule the roost of any church. You know, like in this manner..., "Grand Pa never entertained a Wednesday Night dinner after church so we're not going to start now."
     
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  6. TCassidy

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    The Decalogue is God's Perfect Standard for the perfect man.

    But the Decalogue cannot save. It can only show us what it wrong, but is powerless to make it right.

    The Decalogue is our "schoolmaster" which brings us to Christ. The Law tells us where we are wrong and directs us to Christ to fix the problem.

    The Law directs us to Christ for Salvation.

    After Salvation Christ directs us back to the Law for Regulation.

    Because the Law is still God's Perfect Standard for the perfect man and we are commanded to go on unto perfection (IE, spiritual maturity).
     
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  7. TCassidy

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    I remember 50 years ago or so when I was first saved. I invited a friend and her brother to come to church. They did and both were saved. A month later both were baptized and joined with the youth group in growing in Grace.

    Only one small problem. Both were African-American and the church was 100% lily white.

    It was well known that I was the one who started it all by inviting them to church. One of the "pillars" of the church came up to me and said, "I am glad your friends were saved but now they should go find their own church. This is our church!"

    I looked at her for a moment and replied, "I'm sorry. My mistake! I thought this was Christ's church!" She never spoke to me again for the rest of her life. :)
     
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  8. Iconoclast

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    Sure.....good question and a proper clarification is in order...
    To frame this out properly we of course would want to start where scripture does......We are to love God, and to Love our neighbor. Romans 13:8-10
    To do this requires prayerful obedience to all lawful duties found in scripture. This is a starting point.

    Next it might be helpful to zero in on some solid biblical principles before just rushing at break neck speed to get to the verses on biblical separation which is where most of the legalism will show up.
    So.....I am thinking of perhaps Col 3:17,23.......
    Can whatever conduct we want to consider be done to God’s glory?

    31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

    Can we give thanks for whatever the activity is?
    17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

    Does the activity have the appearance of evil?

    22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    Are we considering the welfare of others first ?

    19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.


    Is there any thought to having gospel motives with the proposed course of actions?
    23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

    Are we doing something for eyeservice as a man pleaser or are we doing it unto the Lord?

    22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;


    23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;


    24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
    We need to be clear on the teaching of what is called Christian Liberty?
    14 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.


    2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.


    3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.


    4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

    Are we seeking to bind someone's conscience?

    We are to keep in mind we are made free by God to serve Him, never are we free to sin.
    13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.


    14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.


    15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

    There are 30 one another passages in the N T. Are we familiar with them and practicing them?

    I would start with this rough outline and add many scriptures
    To this first before going to any specific application such as, where to go, what to wear, what activities are lawful for me, what is my speech supposed to be like,etc.

    I think we can have some fun and make this quite useful and maybe strip away some of the Man made legalism that plagues many a church.

    Examples of man made rules......
    no facial hair on men,
    woman must not wear a pants suit, or jeans or pants, only granny dresses,
    no tv,
    no radio,
    no sports,
    no alcohol,
    no mingling with unsaved people such as little league, or an art class,etc.
    Kjvo
     
    #8 Iconoclast, Mar 21, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2016
  9. Iconoclast

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    Hello Hamel

    In a smaller work there is more danger of this taking place.
    Just the fact that it is small means there is less iron to sharpen iron......so if some of the people come in through the church door with bad attitudes in that they are not rooted in scripture to start with.....it can only go downhill from there and many times does.
    I think it has to start with us as individuals.
    We have to come in prayer and with a view to be examples of how God transforms a sinner.like me, or you and makes us productive in every sphere of life.
     
  10. Iconoclast

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    Pastor Bob,
    I have heard it preached and offered it on BB a few times, that churches with a wrong view of the law in the life of a Christian as outlined above and in the OP......that those who say we are.only under grace.now and no.law that lean to what can be described as antinomian .......by setting aside God's laws and biblical principle.....of necessity substitute inferior man made rules that bind the conscience of God's people.
    It can even be out of sincere motive.....but they will preach on a good text like 2 Cor 6:14- 7:1........and 1 jn 2....love not the world......and then put everything. Including the kitchen sink in the verses......have you sat under such preaching, or heard it?

    Like when Jesus told the Pharisees. ......these you ought to have done, but not leave the other undone.
     

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