Legalism

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Helen, Aug 17, 2005.

  1. Helen

    Helen
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    I have been accused of being legalistic in a thread regarding modesty of dress, particularly in regard to attending church if you are a professing Christian.

    Paul asked women to dress modestly. Was he being legalistic?

    Granted there is a cultural imperative involved, but I am unaware of any culture, including ours, where a bathing suit is considered modest dress for church, whether you are in Hawaii or not.

    It is not legalistic to ask for modesty. It is legalistic to say you are not modest unless you wear a dress, or a suit and tie, or whatever particular piece of clothing.

    I see the accusation of legalism thrown at a number of people who are asking for basic modesty or refraining from casino gambling or not participating in violent video games or a number of other things.

    It is not legalistic to ask for basic moral, ethical, reasonable behavior which will not and does not encourage immoral, unethical and/or unreasonable behavior in others.

    Granted we have been set free. But what we have been set free from is bondage to sin. We have been set free to follow Christ. We have not been set free to follow the world.

    I've been working outside in the heat pulling weeds for awhile thinking about the other thread on modesty and what was going on in people's minds. If I'm off the wall here, call it heatstroke and forgive me.

    But as for me and my house....we'll do the best we can to not only serve the Lord but let others who see us know that that is what we are doing.
     
  2. donnA

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    I've known you since 2001 and I've never known you to be legalistic.
     
  3. Kidz-4-HIM

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    Most of the time when someone calls a person a legalist they have no idea of what legalism really is.

    A Legalist is NOT someone having personal standards!!!

    Legalism is when someone adds something to salvation. You can be unsaved and have more standards than who knows what and it does't bring you a hair of an inch closer to God than no standards at all.

    And yet you can be saved and have no standards and you are not any more 'less' saved than if you walk a tight rope of standards.
     
  4. Bible Believing Bill

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    IMO Legalism is when what you wear, what music you listen to, what you do with your free time, etc becomes more important to a church than saving souls.

    Bill
     
  5. RightFromWrong

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    AMEN Helen and Kidz-4-HIM

    I think more people aught to study Rom. Chapter 14 then they might have a better understanding of Legalism in the church.

    One of the points I made in a study I did about Music in modern day youth groups. Was I didn't care what other Christians listened to in their own homes. That was between them and the Lord. BUT I felt it was very important that our Youth group leaders held to a higher standard on what kind of " Chrisitan " music was played at church.

    To many churches are going seeker friendly so they will compromise in order to win the lost. Whether that be in the way the kids are allowed to DRESS, MUSIC, LANGUAGE et.

    The church youth group and the church as a whole is there for those who are already saved, so that they will be equiped and healthy to reach those outside who are not saved. It isn't the Pastors job to win souls just his job to feed and take care of his sheep. So they will, if someone comes in and gets saved Hallaluah thats great.

    Yes we need to have higher " Standards " as Christians without taking it to the extreme of
    being weird or crazy.

    Has to be a balance somewhere.
     
  6. PreachTREE

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    AMEN!!!!!!
     
  7. guitarpreacher

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    LEGALISM - when your relationship with Jesus Christ is based on what you do.

    GRACE - When what you do is based on your relationship with Jesus Christ
     
  8. blackbird

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    AMEN!!!!!! </font>[/QUOTE]Right you so are, Sister Helen! A careful study of the New Testament epistles will tell the careful expositor exactly what you just said! We are set free from the bondage of sin---and anytime we are set free FROM something---that would also mean that we are set free TO something! We are set free to obey-

    --as both Apostles Peter and Paul would say--we are saved "unto obedience"

    ---we are not saved to do what WE want to do---we are saved to do what GOD wants us to do

    ---we are not saved to say what we want to say---but we are saved to say what God wants us to say-

    --we are not saved to "wear" what we want to wear---we are saved to wear what God wants us to wear!!!

    We are saved to become slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ---go where He wants us to go---say what He wants us to say---wear what He wants us to wear

    ---but how do we know where He wants us to go??? Its in the word from the Word!!

    ---how do we know what He wants us to say?? Its in the word from the Word!

    ---how do we know how He wants us to dress?? Its in the word from the Word.

    Anything less that whats written in the word---falls short of the glory!!!
     
  9. Helen

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    Good way of putting it, guitarpreacher! I like that one. Thanks.

    Blackbird, I would add one thing to what you are saying. Because Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we also have a very personal guide in daily living. When to shut up and listen and when to speak, for instance, are things we can insist on controlling ourselves or quietly listen to the urgings of the Holy Spirit within. Both Barry and I have found that our Lord Jesus was not kidding when He said He would not leave us as orphans! If we are willing to know the Bible (so we do not mistake our own imaginations for the gracious Holy Spirit!), spend time with the Lord in prayer, and wait with a quiet heart upon Him, that He will guide us very personally through our days. It requires a quiet heart, which I am not always good at -- but that's one reason the Lord gave me Barry! His heart is almost always quiet before the Lord, and our house is immensely blessed because of that.
     
  10. donnA

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    Which includes seeking God's blessings or grace, His approval, based on what we do, not whose we are.
     
  11. Jimmy C

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    As long as you recognize that your standards are your standards and not try to impose them on other people you are fine. But when you take your definition of modesty and judge others Christian walk because they wear jeans or shorts to church you may be stepping over the line.

    Now is that leagalism, or is leagalism simply the tag we apply when people use their definitions of, in this instance modesty, to others. Perhaps we should use a different term.

    Different cultures have different definitions of modesty. I have noticed that french canadian men tend to wear speedo type swimsuits to the beach - you wont catch me in anything but the baggiest board shorts that I can find. When we were in Hawaii this past year and attended a SBC church, the dress was very informal, but not much different than what I am accostumed to.

    In our church I typically wear khakis and a golf shirt, and am one of the more formally dressed, yet our church has people being saved weekly, and has great discipleship classes. Some of you would probably walk into our church on a typical sunday morning and gasp, or at least not come back due to the informality of the dress etc, but the Lord is at work.

    I guess what I am trying to say, is that we try to major on the majors, and let minor issues sort themselves out.
     
  12. Helen

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    Jimmy, I don't think anyone here would disagree with you. I do think that men's shorts are a lot longer than most women's shorts, and baggier, too, which makes them much less suggestive than either a Speedo or women's shorts!

    The idea here is not so much clothes (where the simple idea is "wear them, please!"), but a separation of the biblical from the cultural. Modesty is biblical. Modesty has always meant a basic body covering which does not invite distraction or sexual thoughts in whatever culture you are in. What sort of cloth or form you choose to be modest in is certainly a matter of personal taste within the culture you are in.

    But modesty also applies, I think, to demeanor. That should be mentioned, too.

    Still, as I mentioned in the lead post, I do not see basic requests for modesty, especially in church, or refraining from activities which invite others to wrong behavior to be legalistic. They are common sense, courteous, and a form of loving your neighbor as you love yourself. It is also a matter of honoring and respecting our Savior.

    It seems so simple to me, but it raised such a brouhaha!
     
  13. Petrel

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    This statement is completely unobjectionable and has been avowed by both myself and several other posters. The brouhaha arose when you disparaged the motivations of people attending church off the beach in Hawaii, called Johnv an apologist for worldliness, and made a blanket generalization regarding what clothing should or should not be worn at church. Rather a different account of events, I guess.
     
  14. PASTOR MHG

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    My thoughts when discussing this topic of Legalism/Liberty in Christ are summed up best by Long time US Congressional Chaplain Peter Marshall...

    "Freedom is not the right to do as one pleases, But the opportunity to PLEASE TO DO what is right."

    Just My Thoughts,
    Max
     
  15. Helen

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    Petrel, I will not back down from saying that bathing suits are entirely inappropriate in church. It is easy enough to cover up with a muu muu in Hawaii and show a little respect for others. Nor was I off base in mentioning that John does make apologies for things which are not good examples for others, such as gambling in casinos.

    I've been to Hawaii a number of times. If you plan on going to church, even 'off the beach', there should be some time taken to pop into your hotel room, put something on over your bathing suit. That is simple respect for God and others. To run into a service in your bathing suit shows that you care more about the beach than about church and really don't want to take any more time away from the beach than you absolutely HAVE to for church. That is a bizarre priority for a Christian. If those attending in bathing suits were not Christians and there simply out of curiosity, well, that's that. But we are called to a slightly more respectful way of going to church.

    Even the pagan Hawaiians, when they converted to Christianity, put on the best they had for services!

    Modesty is modesty in any society. Respect is respect. Honor is honor. The Bible tells us to be modest and to respect and to honor. Popping in to church in a bathing suit is not modest, respectful, or honoring. Gambling in a casino supports the underworld, sets a horrid example for others, and depends on others losing in order for you to win -- when those others wanted to win which would require you to lose. Violent video games and movies are now known to lead to violent behavior in young people. Probably in older people, too. But an incredible number of professing Christians claim that as long as they do it in the privacy of their own homes, no one is hurt. Wrong. They are helping support an industry that destroys our youth.

    We will be held accountable for what we do, say, think, and are. None of us should want to be shamed before Christ when that time comes.
     
  16. Helen

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    Pastor MHG, thank you.
     
  17. TexasSky

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    Asking that individuals show respect to God in God's house is not legalistic.
     
  18. Artimaeus

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    I have heard two different definitions of legalism.

    1. Salvation by works. (You must adhere to these rules or you weren't/aren't/won't be saved)

    2. Strict adherance to Biblical standards with unbiblical specifications. (You must adhere to these rules or it will appear that you weren't/aren't/won't be saved)

    The opposite of this seems to be that we are free to do whatever we want (equally unbiblical) and if others don't agree then that is their problem. (License, Liberty, Freedom)

    Paul says we have liberty.

    1 Co 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

    1 Cor 8:13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

    God says that when those two ideas conflict that we should behave in a manner which will not offend either side. Paul did defend the right to eat meat sacrificed to idols but then defended the rightness of NOT eating.
     
  19. Johnv

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    Paul askes YOU to dress modestly. That is not legalistic. Legalistic is when YOU take it upon YOURSELF to enforce YOUR view of modesty over them. Paul does not give us authority to do this. You have told me that I and my wife were dressing immodestly when we attended a church service on a beach in Maui, me dressed in board shorts and a tank tee, and my wife wearing a one piece suit with a wrap. WE WERE ON THE BEACH, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE! You also implied that I was attending church there for the sake of being able to say I attended church there. Not only does that qualify you as being legalistic, but also unrighteous.

    You said my particulr pieces of clothing were immodest, and that my wife's pieces of clothing were immodest. You just defined legalism is when you insist on "particular piece of clothing", and then you condemn my "particular piece of clothing". Yet you don't see yourself as being legalistic. Do you not see the three fingers pointing back at you when you point the finger at me?

    It is legalistic to impose a moral where scripture is silent. Scripture is silent on gambling, though scripture is not silent on abuse. Therefore, it's scripturally permissible to allow Christians the liberty to gamble so long as it is not abusive. It is legalistic to tell someone who gambles that they are sinning solely based on the fact that they played a hand of blackjack.

    You know very well that people do this with the topic of consuming alcohol all the time.

    The problem with that line of thinking is that legalists will typically put any action they disapprove of into the "worldly" category to justify their unrighteous legalistic behavior.

    No, you're not off the wall. I respect your opinion greatly. I highly disagree with you on the issue, however. I hope that you respect me likewise.
    That's exactly what we should be doing. The problem is that Christian often don't know how to do this effectively.

    A husband will see the verse that says "wives, submit" and will then think they have to spiritual authority to force their wives to submit to them (scripture gives them no such authority). Another person will decide to adhere to rabbinnic laws refraining from, say, the consumption of pork, and will then tell the rest of the Christian world that we're all sinning when we eat pork. A Seventh Day Adventist will adhere to the Saturday Sabbath, and will tell the Sunday worshippers that they're all wrong. And, a person will adhere to rules of modesty, and promptly tell everyone else what the rules of modesty should be for them.
     
  20. Johnv

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    Yes, it's easy enough. But is it required to satisfy the congregation's view of modesty? No. Your view, yes. Their view, no. When you impose your view upon them, it's legalism.

    Yes, it is simple respect for God and others. However, not doing it is not a show of disrespect. That is where you err. You presume that just because something "can" be done, then it "must" be done.

    Now, THAT is a statement of unrighteousness if I ever heard one. Where do you get off judging someone's heart like that?

    That's actually not true. The Hawaiians had long abandoned the poytheistic beliefs and practices way before Capt Cooke arrived on the islands.

    You have the scriptural authority to decide that for yourself. Your church has the scriptural authority to decide that for your congregation. You don't have the scriptural authority to decide that for another.

    So you acknowlege that other forms of gambling, like playing poker with the guys, is okay?

    I agree with you there. Refrain from violent video games, and forbid my children from playing them. I don't, however, impose my view on others.
    That includes those who are guilty of legalism. We're to let our light shine. We're not given authority to require other Christian use the same wattage as us.
     

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