What Makes One A LEGALIST?

Discussion in 'Fundamental Baptist Forum' started by Gregory Perry Sr., Feb 25, 2013.

  1. Gregory Perry Sr.

    Gregory Perry Sr.
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    Since being an IFB OR sometimes any stripe of Baptist ( I attend and SBC church) sometimes brings on the accusation that one is a "legalist" or "pharisee", I ask....what is your opinion (or dogmatic conviction) about the matter? What, in the STRICTLY BIBLICAL SENSE is a "legalist? Please try to offer or supply scripture to back up your assertions.

    One other direct question....Do you think that observing or practicing "standards" of conduct, dress, deportment, or behaviour, that are either in accordance with a direct command or statement of scripture or a principle or teaching that can be deduced FROM scripture makes one a "legalist"? Where do we "draw the line" between true Christian LIBERTY and UNRESTRICTED LISCENCE to live as we please?

    What really IS holy Christian living?

    Bro. Greg:saint:
     
  2. 12strings

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    I'll give some thoughts.

    1. Biblically speaking, Legalism is not a word in scripture. It is an english word to describe something that is, I believe warned against in scripture. Personally, I would consider 2 things legalism:

    a. Adding a requirement of some kind of obedience to faith in Christ, that is necessary for salvation. This is what Paul battled the judaizers about: Believe in jesus, AND keep dietary laws....believe in Jesus AND be circumcized. I don't see a lot of this one these days...more of the next one:

    b. Adding restrictions on Christians that are standards for obedience, that scripture does not give. This one is much more common, and it is not just fundamentalists that have problems with it. It is basically saying that something is a sin that scripture does not say is a sin.

    2. Just for fun, I'll give my thoughts on a few issues...starting with more obvious examples, then moving to some that are more controversial:

    -Some have said that Christians should follow OT Dietary laws (Joel Osteen, of all people, has advocated this).
    -Some have said christians should not play with playing cards since they have been used for gambling, and might tempt you to gamble.
    -Some have said Christians should not celebrate Christmas, since scripture does not tell us to do so.
    -Some have said that to really follow God you must live in a monestary, deny yourself all earthly pleasures, and inflict pain on you body.
    -Some say that a woman should not wear pants. (though in many cases, pants can be more modest than some skirts).
    -Some have said you should not attend a movie theatre (but renting the same movie for home viewing is ok).
    -Some say you should not enter a Bar, since you are supposed to avoid all appearances of evil (though I'm convinced the best translation is "avoid every form/kind of evil.")
    -Some have lists of musical instruments they believe to be off-limits...with no scriptural support.


    Scripture that warns me the above rules are bad ideas:

    Col. 3:20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

    This verse is of value in warning us against the desire to give the APPEARANCE of religion...attested to by the fact that the amish, with their drab dress, and strict rules...STILL have problems with immorality and drunkenness, and power struggles...because they are fallen humans like the rest of us...

    ...A church in which every pastor wears a tie, every woman wears long skirts, every hymn is a capella, those things will not stop the people from sinning.

    1 Tim. 4:4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

    (other scriptures allow freedom when deciding on utilizing things/food that has been used for idolatrous purposes...one eats, another doesn't...according to his own conscience...which I think is applicable today to the questions of association: should you shop at JC penney, knowing they support Gay marriage...one says the won't...another says, "my son need jeans for school, we're short on cash, and I have a JC Penny gift card.")

    NOW, there are principles that apply to non-biblically addressed issues, such as do all to the glory of God...BUT...I see legalism as applying statements like "avoid the appearance of evil." to mean, "don't do anything that ANYONE thinks might even appear to be sin." If that were the case, we could not do anything at all.

    My arguments are Sufficiency of scripture arguments...God gave us what he wanted us to know...if He didn't want us to use guitars, he would have said so.
     
  3. 12strings

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    Holy Christian living is living a life that is set apart for devotion to God...but set apart IN THE WAYS, HE TELL US TO BE SET APART. Dressing weird to stand out is not what he tells us to do.

    Holy Christian living might mean going into a bar to seek out a man who is abandoning his family and beg him to turn back to Christ.
     
  4. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Matthew 6:25-34

    Do Not Worry

    25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?

    28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
     
  5. 12strings

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    1. How does this relate to the OP?

    2. It would seem we SHOULD worry, if, as you claim, Men like Gregory...
    .
     
  6. Gregory Perry Sr.

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    You said..."Dressing weird to stand out is not what he tells us to do.":tongue3:

    (I simply can't resist this....) We have a young teenage girl that recently got saved at a Students Conference that was held at our church. Hallelujah for that...however...in the ABSENCE of our youth ministry teaching or trying to apply some of those "legalistic standards" that the IFB's are so often castigated for (my church is SBC)she showed up in church last nite with bright BLUE hair. Kinda "stood out" in the crowd....bless her heart. Thankfully, as far as I know, nobody confronted or criticised her appearance. I pray that she'll "get the memo" as she grows in her newfound faith and give up things that are decidedly negative as far as the things of this fallen culture go. I still believe you don't "reach" this culture for Christ by trying to imitate them. Sadly though...many of the young in this generation have NO CONCEPT of what is right and wrong. I personally believe that a big part of that problem is caused by Godless public education that has robbed them of any instruction in Bible-based morality or behaviour. They are being indoctrinated to believe that they are their own moral authority and that anything goes cause "ya only go around once...so have fun!" The fallacy of "Evolution"...eh? This girl is young...maybe 14 or 15...hasn't been saved but a few weeks. I pray that someone with godly wisdom and compassion will come alongside her and disciple her in the love of Christ. I understand her home background is terrible. Her name is Autumn...please pray for her.:praying:

    Bro.Greg:saint:
     
  7. Earth Wind and Fire

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    People who focus on unnecessary issues, dwell on trivialities, manipulate their flock, obsess over legalistic things not glorifying the lord.....they do indeed keep people out of heaven. Tell me you doubt that!
     
  8. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    Who is it that you feel is indoctrinating them?
     
  9. abcgrad94

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    Wait a minute. A precious young lady got saved, and already you're worried about her "getting a memo" for her blue hair. Seriously? Where in the Bible does it say Christians cannot dye their hair? Or is it just the blue color? This is your PERSONAL OPINION and has no basis in Scripture.

    So nobody said anything to HER about her hair--it's obvious though, from your post, that her hair is the issue, not her HEART. Sounds like this kid needs lots of love and acceptance before she "gets a memo" about her hair.
    Love says "I'm so glad you're here, honey. Praise God you got saved." Legalism says "I hope she gets a memo about her hair."

    Maybe you mean well, but it's this type of negative, critical attitude that turns people away from legalism.
     
  10. 12strings

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    I have to agree here, Greg. I think there has to be a difference between bad taste, and sin. If I were to wear white tennis shoes, olive green pants, and a horrendously different shade of green shirt, and a purple tie to lead music in next sunday...IF IT WAS DUE TO POOR TASTE IN CLOTHES...it would not be sin. (Now, if I did it to purposly draw attention to myself, it probably would be.) As I mature, and as my wife helps me pick out my clothes, I would grow into purposely dressing in a way that does not distract people from worshiping God.).

    This girl may keep her blue hair for a long time without sinning. I'm not saying more mature people should not help her see that she does not need crazy hair to be noticed and have value...but it is no different than the advice you might give to a wealthy lawyer who came to church in 3,000 suits and slicked back hair.

    I"m saying these examples are QUALITATIVELY DIFFERENT than a Christian woman who is wearing short skirts or low-cut shirts. Wouldn't you agree. The latter is a clear violation of a scriptural guidline (modesty)...the former examples, blue hair and dressing up, are mere symptoms of a need to stand out, or fit in, or impress (which are sinful attitudes)...but are not IN THEMSELVES sin. Does that make any sense?
     
  11. Bronconagurski

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    Claiming your works save you is what I was always told is legalism. I could see how claiming they keep you is legalism also. I agree with one poster that said making something mandatory for Christians that the word of God does not is legalism as well. That being said, there is nothing wrong with personal standards. I have heard a lot of people gripe about too many standards. But when it comes to witnessing, I have heard far more that say Christians are hypocrites when they witness for Christ, but use foul language, go to bars, speed (I was guilty of that one-speeding, and this fellow worker said, "I thought you Christians obeyed the law."), watch movies with nudity or foul language, listen to rock and roll. It seems the world knows some of these things are wrong for Christians, but we don't.
     
  12. 12strings

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  13. 12strings

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    Let's break it down:


    Yep, that's a sin.


    not a sin, if going for godly reasons, like witnessing, or hunting down your estranged son to beg him to rethink his drunkenness.

    yep, that's a sin: disobeying government authorities


    Yep, sin.

    I'm conflicted on this one, depending on the severity and frequency of the language...I do think there can be a place for enjoying secular entertainment, art, music, etc...but with much care...I'm not sure that one "D***" word makes it a sin to ever watch that show...If the networks start allowing NCAA announcers start refering to a "D***" good shot, would it be a sin to watch march madness? Something to think about.

    depends on your definition of rock & roll, and on the language and message conveyed in the music...that could be pointed to as sin...instrumentation can't.



    ***How can I so quickly say one thing is sin, and another isn't...easy...the Bible tells me so.


    [/QUOTE]

    The world also says it is wrong for Christians to confront sin, not accept homosexuality as normal and good, oppose abortion, and claim anyone ever goes to hell...so that's not such a good test...good thing we have A BIG BOOK!
     
  14. 12strings

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    One more note:

    RIGHT! There is nothing wrong with me saying, "I don't go to Movies, I don't watch TV, I don't got to bars." But if I said those things, it would be because in those places i would be very likely to sin...not because going there is a sin in and of itself.

    But there is something wrong with saying: "If you go see the Passion of the Christ in the movie theatre, you are sinning...if you go see Finding Nemo in the movie theatre, you are sinning." Because you are then telling someone else that something is a sin that scripture does not say is a sin.
     
  15. Gregory Perry Sr.

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    This is tiring...

    Guy's...this kind of stuff makes my brain hurt.

    FOR THE RECORD...I'm thankful the young lady I mentioned got saved...Hallelujah for that. I'm blessed and thankful she is coming to church...Hallelujah for THAT Too. I would never say or do anything to intentionally mislead or offend her. IT is impossible, when sitting in church OR ANYPLACE ELSE to NOT notice someone who has dyed their hair a bright shade of neon blue....and NOT form some kind of opinion about it! Ya'll ought to at least congratulate me for being able "bite my tongue" and NOT risk saying the wrong thing at the time. There is a reason why God gave us all TWO eyes, TWO ears...but thankfully only ONE tongue...AMEN?I am a 58 year old man who lived through (and participated in) the "Hippy" generation and the Classic/Hard Rock culture. That was "weird" to the adults then...THIS is weird to me NOW. It is NOT legalism...SOMEWHERE down the road (maybe NOT today).....to try and teach her that there are some things about personal appearance that will send a more credible "message" and be a better reflection of the condition of her heart and her spiritual walk with her Lord as she grows closer to Him. The important thing is that she be properly discipled so she doesn't fall by the wayside as so many do. I floundered around for several years because when I first came to Christ I followed after some old habits and personal influences that kept me or hindered me from being able to grow. Hindsight is always 20/20 but I know what DOESN'T work from personal experience.
    As for this young lady...both my wife and I and many others at our church have welcomed her into our fellowship and offered to help her in any way we can. What I've shared with you folks here about her are simply my personal observations and opinions but I love her like the little sister she is and I hope she can successfully escape the lures and habits and characteristics of the lost people she is doubtless surrounded by and become the godly young woman that our Lord wants her to be. The matter of the unnaturally dyed color of her hair is a noticeable "distraction" that will cause people to unfairly judge her and look upon her in a negative way. Without going into detail I will mention also that her manner of dress is also less than desirable from the standpoint of modesty. I personally hope one of the godly women in our church will take her "under their wing" and gently try to help her see "a more perfect way". If it is legalism to try to encourage believers to grow closer to the Lord and out of and away from the snares of this world then I will gladly and thankfully plead GUILTY. Personal conduct and modest dress, deportment, and behaviour has nothing to do with SALVATION by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (plus or minus NOTHING)...but how we "present" ourselves to the lost world around us is does matter...sometimes a LOT...sometimes just a little...but ALL THE TIME at least somehow. I don't think there is much more I care to say in this thread...but we'll see. I guess it just depends on what I am accused of.:tear: I love the Lord Jesus and I love souls and I love ya'll. I just wish that was enough. As Bro.James says so often.."Even so, come Lord Jesus."

    Bro.Greg:saint:
     
  16. 12strings

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    I don't think what you have described here is legalism to any degree that we would not all be guilty of. I suspect the most "free" among us would none-the-less form instant opinions about people based on their hair, dress, etc.

    I think it WOULD be legalism for us to say that her blue hair is a sin. Because, if we truly believe it to be, then we are bound to address it, and gently say to this person, "The Lord is not pleased with your blue hair, it is a sin against him that you must turn away from immediately in order to grow in your walk with him." ...Just as we should do if a new believer is living with their boyfriend, or drives a stolen car, or makes crude jokes. Those are clear sins according to scripture, and we would should not think, "well, she's a new christian, we'll address those things in a few months when she's more mature."

    If Blue hair is a sin, it needs to be addressed soon, for the girls own growth in Christ...if it is not a sin, then it doesn't.


    BTW, greg. thanks for starting this thread. I think your approach is generally full of grace, even toward those you disagree with. I DO think you have some areas where you believe some things are sins that scripture simply does not, but we will likely continue to disagree. Sorry if I sound forceful, but, like some others, I have grown up with legalistic pastors condemning things that aren't sins (no movie theatres, no pants, no blue shirts, not youth activities in the sanctuary, no guitars, no steve green, etc.) and it has driven me to believe there is much freedom in areas that Scripture does not specifically address.
     
  17. Gregory Perry Sr.

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    I will say...

    I will say,that aside from some of my doctrinal objections to the "Passion Of The Christ" (and I went to see it because I was curious about THAT) I will say that it was extremely discomfitting to be sitting in the theater with THAT KIND of imagery and knowing the Truth about why Christ did what He did....and observing people around me munching on popcorn and candy and sipping on drinks. (I'll even ADMIT my legalism about that but it just did NOT feel right!) There are hardly words available to describe how I was feeling...even with the obvious Catholic bias of Mel Gibson's interpretation of things. Hollywood has an uncanny ability of polluting everything they touch. I'm also holding my breath (or not)about the March debut of the History Channel's series on the Bible. I will watch it and evaluate it with an open Bible. I hope they don't blow it too badly. I know that the Nat Geo channel (and History also)certainly has taken other opportunities to explain away as many of the miracles and creative acts of God as possible. They just can't seem to stomach the idea that there is an all-powerful God who has the right as their Creator to be their Master and their Judge.

    Bro.Greg:saint:
     
    #17 Gregory Perry Sr., Feb 25, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2013
  18. abcgrad94

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    Sorry to quote the entire post, but I think this is well said and in a good spirit.

    Gregory, please do not be offended if I come across as too harsh. I am one who lived an abusive, legalistic life and have the scars to prove it. So, I tend to jump on anything that even hints at legalism. People need to be informed of how destructive legalism can be. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

    I pray our debates here can spare even one person from the bondage of extra-Biblical standards. We do have freedom in Christ and can live more abundantly than some would allow.
     
  19. Gregory Perry Sr.

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    In General....YES

    abcgrad....I'm not really offended...just cautiously optimistic while trying to maintain my sense of reality about the times we live in. I have been through some of the same legalism but I have also seen BOTH extremes. This is why I usually try to say...liberty? yes!...but license...maybe but only if scripture clearly allows. There are so many glitzy "traps" out there to snare the souls of men...even if they are still only "offshoots" of the same old basic sins. It is far too easy to get distracted and fall away from the truth and the Lord. Our adversary does indeed walk about as a "roaring lion" and we do have to be on guard constantly. We are in fact and indeed in a WAR.
    I agree with your comment about leaven but it is true both ways. Too much "liberty" is equally as destructive as too much legality...in my humble opinion. It is far too easy,because it IS appealing on some level to our fleshly natures, to go off on a tangent in either direction. I have been a self-inflicted VICTIM of both in my lifetime and it was and to some degree, still is, very costly. Sin is sin. Thank God for His forgiveness. Therein lies great and abiding HOPE. I do believe our "freedom" in Christ and our hope of "abundant" living while we are still here lies primarily in to what degree we are sincerely and truly surrendered to Him in every area of our lives. That has been tough for me. We need to pray for one another more faithfully.:praying:

    BTW...I agree....12 strings post was a good response and done in a good spirit.

    Bro.Greg:saint:
     
    #19 Gregory Perry Sr., Feb 25, 2013
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  20. Mexdeaf

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    True but I would substitute "Christianity" for "legalism" in the second highlighted sentence.
     

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