The hidden danger of legalism

Discussion in 'Fundamental Baptist Forum' started by stilllearning, Jul 8, 2008.

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  1. stilllearning

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    I would assume, that this isn’t going to be, a very popular subject in this part of this site;

    I recall years ago, asking a missionary this question....
    “How would you define legalism”

    And his response was,
    “A legalist is someone, who has more standards than he does”
    --------------------------------------------------
    I am not as quick on my feet as others are, but later I realized, that my response to him should have been, “Are you talking about Bible standards or man’s standards”?

    This is where I have come to, in my understanding of today’s legalism;
    (It is simply, men dictating their personal convictions, upon others!)
    -About entertainments, music, activities, etc.-

    Each of us have our own personal standards, but most of the time, they don’t apply to everyone else!
    --------------------------------------------------
    Now for the “hidden danger”, in this thread’s title.

    It has to do with Sanctification.

    According to 2 Corinthians 3:18, sanctification comes from “obeying the Holy Spirit”, as we are studying God’s Word;
    But what legalism does, is rob God’s people of “true sanctification”, by giving them the counterfeit sanctification, of obeying men, instead of the Holy Spirit.

    e.g. (If the Holy Spirit, tells you to through out your TV, and you do it, this is sanctification, and you are being set apart unto God:)
    -But if your preacher tells you to through out your TV, and you do it, then your simply imitating him, and it won’t do you any good at all.
    --------------------------------------------------
    The terrible results of this, that I have seen over the years, is how Christians can sit in a legalistic Church for years, and never grow in Christ at all.

    True Spiritual growth, doesn’t start, until you start listening and obeying, the Holy Spirit!
     
    #1 stilllearning, Jul 8, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2008
  2. John of Japan

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    Stilllearning, this subject has been done to death here. And I usually find that people don't understand what legalism really is. Simply having standards or rules to live by is not legalism. Everyone has those. And as my beloved father used to say, "I would much rather be criticized for having standards that are too high than for having standards that are too low."

    No, the theological definition of legalism is the belief that those rules bestow holiness. I've given quotes from theologians here before on this. Don't have time to now.
     
  3. Ehud

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    Webster 1828

    2. In theology, a reliance on works for salvation. Webster 1828

    Biblical legalism has nothing to do with standards unless your high standard is part of your salvation.

    The book of Galatians is a refutation to legalism

    Ehud
     
  4. readmore

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    Galatians 3
     
  5. John of Japan

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    Exactly!! Well said.

    Here is a similar definition from a theologian:
    “Legalism is a slavish following of the laws in the belief that one thereby earns merit; it also entails a refusal to go beyond the formal or literal requirements of the law” (Christian Theology, 2nd ed., by SBC theologian Millard Erickson, p. 990).
     
  6. John of Japan

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    And here is a terrible result of having no standards: Christianity Today recently published a partly favorable review of the new, utterly filthy movie, "Sex and the City." I say that the New Evangelical (to use an old but good term) teaching that Fundamentalist standards should be rejected is just as harmful or even more so than one person trying to force their standards on another.

    In fact, here is what the reviewer says about the original filthy TV show:

    "And a phenomenon even for many Christians. For years, good churchgoing friends of mine secretly raved about Sex and the City. They told me that I, a 30-something single woman (and a singles columnist to boot), would appreciate the randy little show. I was a late adopter only because I didn't have cable. When the somewhat sanitized version showed up on WGN, I was intrigued. I could've done without the "man-izing" and definitely without the nudity, when I rented the original version. But it was refreshing to have a single woman's sexuality acknowledged."
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies/reviews/2008/sexandthecity.html
    Now this I definitely agree with. But you can be led and taught by the Holy Spirit in a church with standards.
     
  7. stilllearning

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    John of Japan pointed out.......


    This is a crying shame.
     
  8. DrRandyGrace

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    If we don't weep for the state of the Church in America, there is something wrong.
     
  9. Crabtownboy

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    Insisting on the letter of the law and ignoring the spirit of the law.
     
  10. Mexdeaf

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    Now that depends on whose 'spirit' you are talking about. :laugh:

    Seriously, however, I think you have nailed it.
     
  11. Salamander

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    I like what Brother Jerry Reeves said once, "If I'm a legalist , what does that make you, an "ill-legalist"?

    Accusing some one of legalism amounts to nothing but a slanderous remark against those who hold to a higher standard than the liberals who carelessly use the term.
     
  12. Steven2006

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    - Quoted From: 'Understanding Christian Theology"
     
  13. Mexdeaf

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    Am I the only one who sees the irony in this statement?
     
  14. tinytim

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    Unless of course the person is a true legalist... in the true definition of the word...

    You don't have to be a liberal to call a person a legalist...

    I believe Paul would have called the Judaizers in Galations "legalists" if he were around today.

    Legalism is teaching that you can become more holy in the sight of God by doing certain things...
    The fact is, I get my righteousness from Christ, not from what I do.

    So when a preacher stands in the pulpit and declares the reason we dress certain ways, or read certain versions, or avoid certain places is so that the congregation will be more holy, that preacher is guilty of legalism.

    Our holiness is based on Christ's holiness...
    Not a list of dos and don'ts from the pulpit.
     
  15. stilllearning

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    Hello everyone

    Well so far, I haven’t seen anyone deal with the main point of this thread:
    “The hidden danger of legalism”
    (And how it stunts a person’s Spiritual growth!)

    Sure, a person can have “more standards”, than anyone else, and look right, sound right and smell right;
    (Yet not be growing Spiritually, and then 10 years later, be at the same level, of Spiritual understanding,!)
    --------------------------------------------------
    You could call legalism, “Spiritual marijuana”.
    (Those who use it, say it doesn’t hurt them and it makes them feel good:)
    -And then they waste their life, trying to convince others, to legalize it;-

    Never realizing, that it is clouding their mind and understanding!
    --------------------------------------------------
    Now remember, I am not talking about “Biblical standards”;
    (God wonderfully blesses us, when we increase in them:)

    But what I am talking about, are “men’s standards”:
    -Simply following some man’s instructions, thinking that God will bless you for it:-
    (God will not bless these “standards”, at all!)

    Mark 7:7
    “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men.”
     
  16. sag38

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    I had a man tell me that I was lost because I had not spoken in tongues. That's a form of legalism.

    I had a man tell me that I was lost because of "mixed bathing." Didn't know what that was at first, but I can assure you that too is a form of legalism.

    Another man told me that I needed to get right with God. Why? He said that because I did not preach using the KJV. That is legalism.

    One brother on another site told me that I should always wear a suit and tie. If not then I was not living up to the standard of a good preacher. That is legalism.

    A deacon told me that he would leave the church the day we ever put the words to songs on a screen. That is legalism.

    A friend of mine visited a church and had the nerve to have a goatee. He was welcomed that Sunday but if he wanted to come back he would need to be clean shaven. That is legalism.

    A pastor I know was not allowed to preach at a church because, while he leaned toward dispensationalism, he refused to be dogmatic about it. That is legalism.

    All these things don't reflect Biblical standards. They are based in tradition and man's thoughts. They don't lead people to Christ. They lead them away from Him. That's why legalism is so dangerous. Be careful that your "standards" don't keep people away from God.
     
  17. stilllearning

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    Hi sag38

    You said......
    Amen

    This is exactly what I am talking about.
     
  18. tinytim

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    While a lot of those are legalistic... (the ones being right with God)
    Not all can fall under the classic definition of legalism...
    All are man made traditions, and should not be upheld...
    And anyone that is upholding these is wrong.

    Is doing things to be right with the church the same as legalism the same way doing things in order to be right with God is?
     
  19. DrRandyGrace

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    It's not what you do that makes you acceptable to God, it's who you are, but who you are will affect what you do. Allow me to explain. The only ones acceptable to God are His children. We become children of God by accepting the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary. We do this by faith. Thus, we become acceptable to God because of who, or perhaps Whose, we are. Who we are will undeniable affect the things that I decide to do from that point on. If my actions are not affected, I didn't get salvation. This is what the Holy Spirit communicated through James when He said, show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works. Faith without works is dead.
     
  20. sag38

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    Here's the deal though. The examples that I gave are direct reflections of folks who looked down on me or others as not being worthy because of some "standard."

    I also agree with Randy. Being a Christian is what changes my behavior. In other words the fact that I am a Christian, indwelled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, is what changes me and my behavior. Legalists have it the other way around. They believe that actions, stances, etc. are what make them "Christian." Legalists define themselves by their actions rather than Christ's actions.
     
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