Is this an accurate view of legalism?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Daniel David, Jul 10, 2004.

  1. Daniel David

    Daniel David
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    I have heard the term for so long. I have read much about it. I have witnessed alot of it. I was just wondering if simply saying that combining works with grace is enough.

    Tell me what you think:

    Legalism - when a person is content in his own religious self-effort.
     
  2. Charles Meadows

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    I would define legalism as paying undue attention to numerous rules, detracting from treating others in a Christ-like fashion. A legalistic person would pay more attention to how a person is dressed or what version of the bible he/she carries than whether or not he/she attempts to emulate Christ.
     
  3. Daniel David

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    That isn't really a workable N.T. definition though. Those might be some of the characteristics of legalism. Paul wasn't being followed by people worrying about clothes.
     
  4. Bro Tony

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    I would define legalism as dogmatically requiring anything of people that which the Bible doesn't require.

    Bro Tony
     
  5. Marcia

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    Legalism is adding works to grace.

    Legalism is also adding requirements to believers to be "good" Christians in such a way that the believers should be doing those things even if scripture is not requiring it or not clear on it.
     
  6. Artimaeus

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    A legalist is ALWAYS somebody else.
     
  7. Pluvivs

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    Artimaeus, I like the way you think...LEGALIST!

    The above definitions that say legalism is "that which requires obedience to rules" is by far the most common. However, it is the least descriptive, and least Bible based. Both Testements are quite clear on standards of dress, speech, eating and drinking, relationships, submission to authority (whether you agree with it or not), etc. Marcia's definition is the clearest example of the common contradiction: we are repeatedly and explicitly REQUIRED by scripture to be "good", but when authorities (cops, pastors, your parents) extend the rules to encompass things not explicitly or "clearly" stated in scripture (music, dancing, panty hose), many cry out "legalist."

    -Pluvivs the Legalist
     
  8. Marcia

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    I am speaking of legalism within the church -- it has nothing to do with the police or parents.

    Someone in my church may think it's wrong for me to see an R movie, but there should be no rule for me to not see R movies. God may convict me of that in his own time and way. If my church had a rule that no member could see an R movie, that would be legalism. If someone told me I was not a Christian or not a good Christian because I was seeing an R movie, that is legalism.

    This is different than if a believer is sinning without repenting -- stealing, adultery, gossiping, lying, etc. Then we are told to confront a believer doing such things. But there are areas that are not covered or are disputed.

    Being transformed into the image of Christ is the job of the HS, not your job.
     
  9. Pluvivs

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    Marcia

    We are both talking about issues inside the church. I apologize if I gave the wrong impression. Nevertheless, the comparison of external authorities is similar enough that it warrants evaluation.

    Your answer is, as I mentioned before, typical of many Christians--that is, we are a priesthood of believers led by the Holy Ghost, not by men, and therefore not accountable to following _them_, but rather God. Also, where there is no explicit rule "Thou shalt not <see R-rated movies>" there is not sin.

    But you know not scripture when you say such things, and you have a lack of understanding of both man's fallen nature and God's ordained order. That does not nullify your Christianity, and it makes you no more (or less) a "bad" Christian that he who is sinning without repenting.

    The legalist issues are, with few exceptions, stuff that the natural man wants to do: listen to music, be entertained, wear fashionable clothes. And there is nothing explicit, in and of themselves, that makes music or art or clothing in the general sense wrong. But the _actuality_ is that those topics are riddled with sinful influences, tucked away in the nooks and crannies, for truly the devil is in the details.

    On movies, I image you say that, if your church took a stand against R-rated movies, rather than submit to your church, you would be a rebel and go see them anyway. Or, at the very least, you would play the traitor, and saboteur, and knock your church for taking such a stance by labeling the leadership "legalists." If you cannot see anything wrong with the R-rated movies (at least the ones I have seen in my lifetime), then you truly have grieved the Holy Spirit, and your conscience is seared.

    You know not the scripture that sayeth "Defraud ye not one the other, except [it be] with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, [and] not of commandment." And again, "But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have [already] hold fast till I come." Paul is making a command where there was no explicit statement before. Christ is withholding a command from other chruches while demanding it of from one. Those men and women who practiced "married abstinence" for "holiness" sake had to ignore their own opinions and obey Paul by coming together in the flesh. Those in Thyatira who loved to eat the meats offered to idols no doubt quoted verse after verse showing their liberty through Grace, nevertheless they were to abstain from such practices.

    The point? In Phl 3:17, and again in 1Cr 4:16, and again in Hbr 6:12, we are told to be followers of men--those men who lead us in faith. Hbr 6:12 is definitely clear--we are to follow those who watch for our souls--pastors, preachers, teachers, elders. If you call other men legalists, that is between you and them, and I judge no such thing. However, if you refuse to follow men in authority over you, whether in the church or outside, you are a rebel, regardless of what your opinions of things are.

    -Pluvivs
     
  10. Marcia

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    A church has no Biblical standing to make such rules for its members. They can encourage people to read and follow God's word and they can discourage sin, but they do not have the right to make a rule like, "don't see R movie," "don't wear a skirt less than 2 inches below the knee," etc. They should exhort believers who are in sin to cease sinning. But this is not done from rules.

    I think you miss the point. I am not saying seeing R movies is necessarily okay, what I am saying is that no man has the right to make this a rule. This is legalism:
    1. If you are a Christian, then seeing an R movie means you cannot come to this church.
    2. If you belong to this church and see an R movie, you are not a Christian.
    3. People who see R movies are not allowed to attend this church.
    4. I do not think you are a Christian if you see that R movie this weekend, or if you a woman who wears lipstick, etc.

    Not legalism:
    Please think about it if you want to see this movie. Is that what you think you should put in your mind? Is this what God would want you to do?


    I also am not saying that one should be rebellious toward the pastor or elders of his/her church. But keep in mind that God's word also tells those elders not to abuse their authority.

    Legalism also makes rules that are not Biblical --such as churches that do not allow women to wear make-up, cut their hair, wear women's pants, etc. That is legalism and it is unbiblical.
     
  11. Pluvivs

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    Marcia,

    My question to you, then, is what is the purpose of the leadership of a church? And why are we commanded to "obey" them in Hbr 13:17, if they are there simply for suggestions sake as your "Not legalism" list implies? You did not address the passages I supplied in my previous post.

    The truth is, men of God are placed in the leadership of the church for our benefit, but only if we are obedient to them. If we disobey, then why should we not have a "fearful looking" for of judgement any less than if we disobeyed a direct command from the Bible?

    Look at the military, as an example. The soldier of lower rank is to obey his superior officer. There are regulations and doctrines and laws in the particular branch of the forces about what fundamentals the soldier must obey (no being AWOL, laws on court-martial, etc), and those must be taught to new recruits by their superiors (this is teaching). However, there is a whole plethora of other things that the superior officer may command of his soldiers that are NOT laid down on paper. Nevertheless, they must be obeyed (this is exposition).

    You've mistaked something that is "unbiblical" with that which is "extra-biblical." Another example: If a child's parents tell him to clean his room, he should obey that as law. The child is not told "thou shalt clean your room" in the Bible, so that makes that command "extra-biblical." However, he is told to obey his parents in scripture, which is the biblical basis and corroboration for the obedience. In the exact same way, if the leadership of my church said that all women must wear dresses or skirts to all church functions (which they do), that's extra-biblical. Yet, I am command to obey them in the passage in Hebrews, which is the biblical basis for that obedience.

    Now, if you are defining "legalism" as "that which is commanded extra-biblically," then you need to establish whether those things are biblically based or not. I am the husband of my wife, and not anothers. I can tell my wife what she needs to do, and she, according to scripture, must submit. However, I cannot tell another woman any such thing (for I am in no other position of leadership), for there is no biblical basis for such foolishness. You might use another word for "legalist" here to describe me as a "chauvinist," yet that is what scripture commands.

    None of this subtracts from the Priesthood of the Believer, for the Priests were not above the law. Yea, they have many many more laws placed on them for their service to God. The Priesthood is not a license to make all the right choices on our own, but is rather the authorization to commune with God via his Word, the Holy Spirit, and the Father without another mediator than Christ.

    Also, I am not justifying anyone from judging your and your church based on my church's (or my personal) beliefs. That is specifically protected in scripture ("Why should I judge another man's servant..."). Also, I do not say a person is not saved or a Christian if they do not line up to the standards before me. However, a person who is disobedient to his leadership in ANY area of life is a rebel, which is soundly condemned by the Bible.

    -Pluvivs
     
  12. Marcia

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    I did not think we were talking about leadership issues here, but rather legalism. I do not equate the two except to say that one form of legalism would be abuse by the leadership. This is also forbidden in scripture (abuse of authority by church leadership).
     
  13. Michael52

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    So do you think we, or God, should condemn Peter and John for not obeying the Council, which compelled them not to preach in Jesus' name? After all, the Council certainly had legal and spiritual leadership authority over them; they being Jews. I think the Holy Spirit led them to reject the Council's leadership for a "higher" authority.
     
  14. Pluvivs

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    I shall ask you a question, and then shall I answer you: would _you_ stop obeying God's Word if it was against the law of the land?

    It is beyond the scope of this discussion to argue that point in detail, but I have never in my life heard someone argue that you should give up your faithfulness to the Lord in lieu of a man-made law.

    In no way am I justifying those who command things _against_ God's Word. Nor am I denying the leadership of the true Holy Spirit, who will not lead us to do that which is against the Will of the Father. What I am saying is that there is genuine leadership in positions of authority, regardless of HOW we think that leadership is doing, that CAN tell us how we ought to live in areas touching extra-biblical matters, and that those leaders ARE to be obeyed by us.

    Again, in clarification for Marcia, we ARE talking about legalism, and trying to answer the question "do we obey the commands of men which are not explicitly stated in scripture?" I would assume that you would obey the Bible if there were scriptures that stated in detail some command for us to follow. One of your definitions of legalism is "Legalism is adding works to grace." We are in agreement here, so I can add nothing more to this. However, your other definition is "Legalism is also adding requirements to believers to be "good" Christians in such a way that the believers should be doing those things even if scripture is not requiring it or not clear on it." This would be true if God had given us no other authority to follow in the gnarled twists of life than the Holy Ghost. Michael hinted at what, I believe, you are thinking---the only guide we should be following is the "spirit" in us, and not man. Yet you have not addressed the scriptures I provided: Phl 3:17, 1Cr 4:16, Hbr 6:12 all tell us to follow men. And not any man, but those who "have already attained," "have begotten [us] through the gospel," and "watch for [our] souls."

    -Pluvivs
     
  15. Michael52

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    It is a "fool who hates the admonishment" of a wise teacher or leader. But one is also a "fool(blind) who follows a blind fool." - Its a "double-edged sword".

    We also must be careful when we follow the "leading" of the Spirit. What we think we "hear" may be our own sinful heart or a demon!

    Of course, the Bible tells us to follow the Spirit and our leaders. But, I think it also stresses that we must be careful that we don't blindly follow anyone's lead, including our own. That's why we follow Jesus.

    I'm sure you can agree with this. Some of us just may not be able to see it as "cut and dried" as you. Or, maybe we are all in agreement, but we don't express what we think in the same way. "Love covers a multitude of sins" - Thank the Lord!

    In Christ,
    Michael
     
  16. DeclareHim

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    Legalism is when a Pastor or church make rules for its members and if you don't follow them you are backslider and aren't included in anything. My parents were in a church when I was young and the church said we couldn't get a tv. IMO these kinds of pastors and churches will never grow because they are so caught up in themselves. Dictatorship of churches by pastors and legalism go hand in hand. And is not a good NT church.
     
  17. Marcia

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    I did not address this specifically as this is not the issue. The issue is legalism, not church leadership. When I gave my original answers, I was thinking of what Christians expect from other Christians (among the laity) as far as being saved or being a "good" Christian. I was not thinking of pastors or elders -- you were the one to bring this up.

    I know what these passages you cite above say. I agree with Michael's answer on this. I would not put myself in a church where the leaders told me I could not wear make-up (and I wear very little, btw), for example. This is legalism. So I guess my answer is, if the leadership of the church is leglalistic, I would not be in that church, because church leaders being legalistic is legalism, not leadership nor watching over souls, and not Biblical.
     
  18. Pluvivs

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    But that goes exactly with what I am saying--being submissive to an authority, rightly empowered by the word of God to "watch for our souls." That includes making demands of the congregation that are outside of direct scriptural commands _for their benefit_. That means that your answer of "..if the leadership is [sic] leglalistic, I would not be in that church.." is rebellious, for you would refuse to follow that rightfully-placed leadership and would rather, like a cheap lunch buffet, move on to the next salad bar to look for something more to your liking.

    And you WILL be commanded to do things that are not scripturally based! Know ye not that it is a command of God that ye be defauded (I Cor 6:1-8)? That does not give license to anyone to defraud you, by law or otherwise, but rather establishes that they who do so are in the wrong and will have to answer before God for it. That is, you are rewarded if you SUFFER FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS SAKE!

    I maintain that which I said earlier--that you are not called to follow other Christians nor the "spirits" that speak with you, but rather we are to join and follow your church and "try" the spirits. If you call that church leadership "legalism," then you are a rebel. If any other Christian commands you to perform some deed not expressly commanded in scripture, they have not authority to do so. Rather than belittle them with empty namecalling, tell them the truth of the matter--that you are another's servant, and not theirs.

    In summary, those of you who call rule-making "legalism" are ignorant of scripture, which establishes the authority in specific men to set those such guidelines as how we should dress, look, be entertained, etc. Those brothers and sisters who judge according to the outward appearance--they will have to answer before God for this. Those who refuse to follow the established leadership are rebels. Period.

    -Pluvivs
     
  19. Marcia

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    The NT is clear that leadership in servant leadership, and it is voluntary, not coercive.

    I am astonished you say this. What scriptural basis is there for leadership to demand something not scripturally based?

    Demanding things of church members in a coercive fashion is cultic; it is not NT Christianity.

    This is not Biblical at all. Watching over people's souls is done with humility, accountability to the Bible, and servanthood. They do not have this authority from scripture. The Bible does not endow men with authority to know how long a woman's dress should be or what people can watch on TV. Legalism strangles the HS working in people and puts them in bondage to men.
     
  20. Pluvivs

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    Is a police officer a "public servant?" It's as simple as that. The verses I quoted earlier make it quite clear that we are to follow our leaders, in every area of life.

    Do not misunderstand--I do not condone men who twist scripture to mean something it does not, neither do I encourage anyone to do so. Nevertheless, it is a true as the nose on your face that men will be men, and that, even if they are in a place of authority, there will be abuses, and their will be shortcomings. Does that mean we can abandon them, or refuse to follow them, or leave the church, when they fail? No, in no wise!

    As far as your anti-scriptural stance that we are in a "volunteer" army, it is beyond the scope of this thread to speak on it. Clearly you have chosen never to put yourself under anyone's leadership in the church. Rather than follow where the Bible-appropriated authorities would send you, you will cry "legalist," get an hirling for a pastor, or leave the church.

    "What scriptural basis is there for leadership to demand something not scripturally based?"

    Have you not read my posts at all? Have you not read the few passages I continue to point to? The pastor, eldars, teachers, police, parents, and whoever else are placed in authority by God himself for our benefit and protection, but they are to be obeyed! This is why I keep bringing up obedience in regards to your rebellious position!

    And as far as your reliance on the Holy Spirit, that is a great copout, for if you believe that you are spiritual enough to determine who the legalists are, then why do you need a pastor (who, according to your own stance, is nothing more than a suggestion box)?

    -Pluvivs
     

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