LEGALISM: What IS The Biblical Definition?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Gregory Perry Sr., Feb 14, 2009.

  1. Gregory Perry Sr.

    Gregory Perry Sr.
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    Ok folks...I'm sure that this subject has been covered numerous times here but a fresh discussion is always good for topics that are often an issue. I am currently attending what I'll characterize as a very conservative rural Southern Baptist Church but I came from and still have a great amount of love and respect for IFB churches and ministries (which may SEEM "legal" by some peoples definitions). I have seen the issue of legalism/liberty used,abused,discussed and even cussed many times over the years. I have my own convictions,beliefs,and ideas in regards to these subjects but I'd like to see a coherent BIBLICAL discussion defining or "framing" just what constitutes "Legalism" from a strictly BIBLICAL standpoint....and "Liberty" in Christ as well. Show me chapter,verse and biblical teachings/examples of what these are. From the onset let me state CLEARLY that I do NOT believe in any way,shape or form that ANY KIND of legalism has ANYTHING to do with Salvation in Jesus Christ. This matter has recently come to the forefront for me in conversations I have had with some in my own church who believe (or seem to believe) that any adherence to "rules" or "standards" comprises "legalism". We are commanded in 1 Peter 1:16 "Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." Also Titus 2:11-12 we are called to holy,godly living as children of God. I do believe that ANY rules or standards we raise must be strictly Biblical.....but we must of necessity NOT live uncaring,wreckless lives under Grace. Lets Biblically define "legalism"...and "liberty"....what they ARE...and what they aren't. What say ye.......?

    In the Spirit of Grace and for The Lord Jesus Christ,
    Greg Perry Sr.:godisgood:
     
  2. DHK

    DHK
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    I disagree. Legalism has everything to do with salvation. People today use the term in the wrong way. When a church or even a person sets standards for themselves such as wearing dresses, abstaining from alcoholic beverages, being submissive to her husband as the spiritual leader in the house, setting a high standard of the type of music he/she would listen to, etc., that is a matter of holiness, not legalism. It is a matter of worldliness vs. holiness, not legalism.

    Legalism has everything to do with salvation.
    Everywhere that Paul went he was followed by "legalists". They were called Judaizers. Their sole aim was to try and teach that it was necessary for a person to be circumcised and keep the law in order to be saved. This is adding to salvation by faith. That is what a legalist is. He adds to salvation. The Church of Christ does this when they make baptism a requirement of salvation. That is being legalistic--adding more than is necessary to salvation.

    Acts 15:1-2 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
    2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

    The issue that was decided here was the issue of legalism.
    The legalists were preaching another gospel--adding to it circumcision and the law.

    In the debates on this board, no one here has said: "Unless a woman wears a dress she cannot be saved," or "If a woman wears pants she is not saved." Those are examples of legalism, but to my knowledge no one has taken that position.
     
  3. JustChristian

    JustChristian
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    The Pharisees were legalists. They put following the law over everything including loving their fellow man. They considered themselves to be superior to everyone else because of their observance of the law. They were Jesus' greatest enemies.
     
  4. DHK

    DHK
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    Yes they were legalists, and like those mentioned in Acts 15:1 they demanded that salvation was through keeping the law. Salvation has never been through the law; it has always been through faith in God.

    Romans 4:2-3 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
    3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
     
  5. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O.
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  6. Gregory Perry Sr.

    Gregory Perry Sr.
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    Misunderstood?

    DHK....you might have misunderstood the intent of what I was saying. What I was trying to get across was the idea (and I believe it is WRONG) that anybody who follows a Biblically based rule,principle,or standard is a legalist. I have encountered people who seem to think that way. I know the kind of legalism that you are referring to. It is the same kind that the judaizers of Pauls day and folks like the 7th Day Adventists and Church of Christ adhere too.....and yes...they regard those kind of rules they follow as conditions of salvation. The ones I'm referring to are mostly good baptist folk of either the Southern Baptist OR IFB persuasion who (I believe) mistakenly accuse folks seeking to walk more closely with God who practice a more strict set of rules or standards ( and encourage others to do the same) of being guilty of legalism. In the extreme some of these zealous folks ( the ones with the stricter standards) do from time to time seem to accuse others of being "not right with God" if they don't practice the same kind of standards. I believe these people are wrong to do that but I don't think they would fit a biblical definition of a legalist. At the same time the other folks I am referring to are more known for their LACK of standards. They seem to embrace the idea ( or maybe abuse it) of "soul liberty". Many of them seem to lack ANY kind of standards and have an "anything goes" kind of approach to daily living. They profess salvation in Christ but many times they seem to look like the world in dress and deportment,talk like the world,enjoy all or many of the world's entertainments, and have little or no concept of the idea of biblical separation. Many of these same people would consider any of us who try to live separated lives to be legalists. This is what I am talking about. I find trying to converse with people like this to be quite frustrating. Let the discussion continue. I ask again...what IS Biblical Legalism....and what is NOT. I suspect that what IS NOT is just simply carnality on the part of some who don't wish to be surrendered completely to God.....but that is at this point opinion or conjecture on my part.

    Greg Perry Sr.:type:
     

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