Legalistic vs. Stricter Standards

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Wisdom Seeker, Sep 25, 2002.

  1. Wisdom Seeker

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    I saw this on another thread and thought that it needed adressing.

    The term "legalist" has been misused so much that no one remembers the original description of the term. A legalist believes that a person can not be saved by grace alone...that other things must be done in order to be saved as in Acts 15:1. A legalist adds to grace. Fundamental Baptists are not legalistic, because Fundamental Baptists believe in salvation by faith alone. Having stict standards is not the same as being a legalist.

    It's one of those words, that because it's been used in the wrong context repeatedively has taken on another meaning.

    The fact is, calling a person or group of people who believe in salvation by faith alone a legalist based on them having stricter standards than another person or group of people who believe in salvation by faith alone is an incorrect use of the term. To call for an example a Catholic person who believes that a person has to do something in adition to believing in Jesus Christ's sacrificial gift to be saved, would be a better use of the word. But, I have never heard a Catholic called a legalist. Or any other religion that believes that salvation by faith alone is inadequate.

    Some Baptists believe in strict standards, but they never at any time believe that a person has to adhere to these standards to be saved. Therefor the use of this term, is wrong.
     
  2. BrianT

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    Perhaps. But sometimes (even on this board), those with "stricter standards" try to push those standards on others, or at least imply that those who do not follow or agree with the necessity of those strict standards are somehow not as "holy". Sometimes even someone's salvation is questioned if they oppose certain strict standards - for some people, it's not that adhering to those standards saves you, but not adhering to them raises the question of whether you are even saved in the first place.

    I don't think "legalism" is about strict standards - but what do you call it when those strict standards are pushed on other people?

    Is this not also legalism?

    [ September 25, 2002, 02:30 PM: Message edited by: BrianT ]
     
  3. Ransom

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    I believe the difference between these two statements:

    If you want to be right with God, you must do x.

    and

    You're not right with God if you still do x.

    where x is one of

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    • circumcision</font>
    • baptism</font>
    • attending a Roman church</font>
    • attending a Baptist church</font>
    • listening to rock music</font>
    • drinking alcohol</font>
    • etc.</font>
    is entirely semantical, nothing more.
     
  4. Wisdom Seeker

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    No, I call it immaterial to the fact of the matter. But, I don't think that people who push these personal convictions are legalists.

    I think the common problem is that salvation is so easy...too easy maybe for a human being to not be tempted to add something to it, to feel more worthy of the gift.

    If someone is pushing their personal convictions on another person, is this right? Is this what God has dictated that a Christian should do? Is this person right with the Lord? I can't make those judgements or justifications. I can only worry about my walk with Christ, my character, my salvation. And I believe that not only is a person saved through grace alone, how they treat others is a testimony of their character and their personal walk with Christ. ;)
     
  5. Wisdom Seeker

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    Whether a person is "right with God" because of standards, is not what this thread is adressing. If a person believes that they must do any of the things you listed in order to be saved does. And it's not semantics.

    [ September 25, 2002, 04:19 PM: Message edited by: WisdomSeeker ]
     
  6. GrannyGumbo

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    WisdomSeeker~as many know here, our youngest son Patrick(almost 30) got caught-up in a "Oneness-JesusOnly" pentecostal/apostolic sect 3yrs. ago.

    He was an ordained deacon & served in many capacities, as well as being the treasurer of the 100yr.old church; of which all 16 of my family were members.

    He de/renounced his Heritage and condemned us to Hell, saying we worship 3 gods. This group requires them to wear long-sleeves, shave, tithe heavily, cannot go to drs., in order so they can go to Heaven. The women cannot cut their hair(not even trim), are not allowed to wear 'pretties' in it, dresses must be down to the floor. There's more, but this'll do.

    While there's nothing wrong with these things, they are required to do them, according to the "Bishop," to help them strive for Heaven. They have to go thru' him for everything, as a mediator!

    Our son now thinks he can lose his salvation if he "slips"...Please pray for him as the Lord brings it to mind. This to me, is legalism to the max!
     
  7. Ransom

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    WisdomSeeker said:

    Whether a person is "right with God" because of standards, is not what this thread is adressing.

    This thread is addressing "legalism" vs. "stricter standards," is it not? I am saying that there is no difference between the person who says you must do something to be right with God, and the person who says you must not be right with God if you still do something.

    By your definition:

    both are legalists. The only difference is that one says you are saved if you adhere to a certain standard, and the other says that if you do not adhere to a certain standard that is evidence you are not saved.

    [ September 25, 2002, 04:55 PM: Message edited by: Ransom ]
     
  8. Wisdom Seeker

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    I agree Granny, this would be using the term in the way in which it is meant. I just prayed for your son and your family as you asked.
    ;)
     
  9. C.S. Murphy

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    Be careful Granny some on this board also believe that you can slip from God's hand.

    Murph
     
  10. Abiyah

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    Oh, Granny! My heart goes out to you and your son each time I read about him. The heart-break must be difficult over this.

    My best friend, as a girl, was a JOPentecostal, so I attended her church a few times, in order to be allowed to spend the night with her. I know what goes on in such churches. And hers was not the only one I attended, because, while we lived in Mississippi, my folks liked to go around to different churches. Wow, did we ever get in the middle of some real pits!
     
  11. Scott J

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    My understanding of legalism is a standard demanded or expected of a Christian beyond what is taught by the Bible. I have had my salvation questioned because I was not KJVO... this in my mind is legalism. But there is a fine line when matters of interpretation or testimony are considered.
     
  12. Kathy

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    I would have to agree with Scott...I was told (as if it were fact) that if I was saved out of the NIV then I wasn't saved because the NIV is a "corruptible seed" therefore, it only leads to corruption including, but not limited to salvation. Then I was told that its "not right" for a lady to wear pants or to wear skirts and dresses that are shorter then mid calf lenght and then the blouses or whatever couldn't be lower then "3 fingers from the wind pipe down"

    I will say, however, that I was not "forced" BUT if I wanted to join ANY church activities, help out in the nursery, etc. or ANY church activity other than just attending church itself, I was told I have to sign a form stating that I would adhere to ALL THE STANDARDS AND CONVICTIONS OF THE CHURCH. Yes, I willingly signed the form, but it was because I wanted so much to serve the Lord. So maybe it was forced...maybe not, I think it's interpretational.

    At any rate...I believe that at my old church, there were constant layers of guilt continually being laid every week to make us believe that God would hate us if we didn't act, dress and talk like everyone else to a fault. Ya'll know the rest of the story (hehe)

    Kathy
    &lt;&gt;&lt;
     
  13. Abiyah

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    This, in itself, is puzzling to me. I was taught that the added rules did determine salvation or the lack thereof. I thought this was the way it always was. Are there those who have the rules but do not demand that the members follow them?
     
  14. Wisdom Seeker

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    Yes, God. My point by this thread is that the term legalist means anything added to grace for salvation to be valid. What the church demands as far as rules or standards doesn't determine salvation. If they say it does, they are being legalistic.

    Standards, lenient or strict have nothing to do with salvation. Salvation is by faith alone. To think otherwise is legalistic.

    People can have strict standards and not be legalistic. Standards and salvation are not connected. Grace and salvation are.

    A person can be saved and have tatoos, and earring, wear a short skirt or pants, not read the Bible at all, not go to church, drink, cuss and whatever else you want to throw in there...and be saved.

    It's not grace and... it's just grace. To believe that salvation is grace and anything else in order for the salvation to be valid is legalism.

    [ September 25, 2002, 09:29 PM: Message edited by: WisdomSeeker ]
     
  15. BrianT

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    According to the dictionary I use, "legalism" is defined as "Strict, literal adherence to the law or to a particular code, as of religion or morality."

    Is not "following strict standards" the same as "strict adherence to a particular code"?

    Where did you get your definition of legalism, which means adding to grace for salvation?
     
  16. Abiyah

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    Wisdom Seeker:

    8oD
     
  17. swaimj

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    Legalism has to do with the matter of salvation, as has been pointed out on this thread. Adding works to faith in order to be saved is legalism.

    However, legalism also has to do with sanctification. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as he convicts us of sin and leads us to understand how to live righteously. This work is a process which goes on throughout our lives. We respond to the Holy Spirit by "walking in the Spirit, living in the Spirit, being guided by the Spirit, being filled with the Spirit, and sowing to the Spirit" (all Biblical terms which Paul lays out in the book of Galations).

    Those who attempt to take a shortcut to sanctification through keeping human rules and standards rather than obeying the above biblical admonitions for relating to the Holy Spirit in a proper way in their daily life are also guilty of legalism. Paul asks in Galations: "Having begun in the Spirit (that is, you got saved by the power of the Spirit) are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" The legalist answers "Yes, I am keeping the rules therefore I am sanctifying myself. I do not need the Spirit."

    None of us would consciously say this, but the fact is, when we depend upon our ability to keep human standards as our measure of our spirituality, we are on dangerous (legalistic) ground. Anybody can keep human standards with a little determination. Only the Holy Spirit can change us so that we please God in thought, word, motive, and deed.
     
  18. Pastor_Bob

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    Ransom said:
    I do not agree that baptism is in the same catagory as these others in the list. Baptism is specifically and clearly commanded by the Lord. I can say without reservation that a person who is physically able to be baptised and chooses not to, is not right with God.

    They have disobeyed the very first order that is to follow salvation. Baptism is in no way necessary for salvation but it is a step of obedience to God. If we refuse to obey Him, how can we be right with Him?

    Too many preachers today are being frightened away from preaching the Word of God because of fear to be labled a "legalist." The Bible is full of God's commands for His children. Keeping them will not save you but they will reveal to others your level of dedication and love for God.

    1 John 2:3 "And hereby we do know that we know Him , if we keep his commandments ."

    Luke 6:46 "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"

    I do not believe in Lordship salvation but I do believe in separated, sanctified, yielded to God living. If God said it...that settles it! I do not try to rationalize it away or find some word in the Greek to alter the meaning and justify my "Christian liberty." Just do it.
     
  19. Wisdom Seeker

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    Amen Swaimj

    You explained it very well. Much better than I was able to. I was beginning to feel like I was banging my head against a wall.

    Thank you so much. You hit the subject right on the head. Excellent! [​IMG] :D
     
  20. Ransom

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    Pastor Bob 63 said:

    I do not agree that baptism is in the same catagory as these others in the list. Baptism is specifically and clearly commanded by the Lord.

    Oh, I agree with you that being baptized is simply being obedient. I put it on the list because there is more than one group claiming to be authentic Christianity that preaches baptismal regeneration. They are like the Judaizers the Galatians had to contend with, only instead of being circumcised to be saved, they are claiming you must be baptized.

    But I'm sure you agree with me that a person who evidences genuine faith in Christ, but has simply not been baptized as yet - for example, because of ignorance or lack of opportunity - is no less "saved" because of it.
     

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