August 9, 2014

What is legalism?

In scripture, there are two different types of righteousness. There is faith righteousness, and works righteousness. Both of those are about salvation. but only one of them is not perverted. Works righteousness "for salvation" is the perverted one. It is perverted because no man can be justified in God's eyes through works, and this post goes through why that is. Through faith in Jesus Christ is how one is saved. Through faith in Christ, through Jesus's blood and resurrection, is how one is justified from their sin..

Romans 3:22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

That includes your mom, your dad, or someone on the news who has brutally murdered fifteen little children. God's grace is God's grace and He doesn't change just because "you" may not think they deserve it. News flash, if you do think that, you don't deserve it either and neither do i, it's grace. God's love, grace, and mercy is not confounded by the wisdom, knowledge, or perception of man. So, why don't we just let God be God and extend grace to whoever He sees worthy, shall we?..Let's get back to this post..

Galatians 2:16 

16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

So, no amount of works "by the law" will "save" someone. This is talking about "salvation". Being "justified" before God is through faith in Christ Jesus. When a person tries to gain salvation through commandment keeping it is not only legalism, but it will never work. It will never work because everyone has sinned. That sin must receive payment and the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23 The payment for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord.)  No amount of commandment keeping outside of faith, and belief, in Christ will pay that payment. Let's go through a passage in Galatians though. That book talks about legalism so lets see what God's word says...

Galatians 2:17-21

17 But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! 18 Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. 19 For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. 20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

So, lets go through verse 17. I believe to "abandon the law" means to leave it and sin, to leave it and choose different than to obey. So a person stands "guilty" because they sinned. Now about verse 19; when a person today tries to keep the law, for salvation, it already condemns them because they have already transgressed it. Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, When a person transgresses God's law someone else must die, shed their blood, for their sin in order for them to be set free from it. As the Bible says, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" Hebrews 9:22. So, God is just and He will receive payment. Commandment keeping, after one has sinned, is not sufficient enough to receive forgiveness. And what it comes down to is the laws of sin and death. Everyone has sinned and the wages of sin is death. Only by someone else dying in their place, having no sin, will take that payment away. Does that make sense? Jesus Christ died not for His own sin but for the sins of mankind. Through Him, and only Him, can mankind be saved and are saved. That's why no man can come to the Father except through Him.

John 14:6 Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Outside of Christ no man goes to Heaven, because outside of Christ means they still have their payment of death to pay. If someone tries to get someone else to die for them they are only paying the payment that they owe since they also have sinned. So, through Jesus Christ, through the sinless and spotless lamb of God, is how anybody will be set free from their payment of death. No amount of works righteousness, commandment keeping, will change that. Because of the wage of sin.

Galatians 2:16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ,..

So, trying to keep commandments "for salvation" is what legalism is. Legalism is "not" keeping God's commandments "after" they put their faith in Christ. It doesn't matter what testament the commandments are found. Here is a passage that sums up what I've been talking about..

Galatians 3:10-14 

10 But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, "Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all these commands that are written in God's Book of the Law." 11 Consequently, it is clear that no one can ever be right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life." 12 How different from this way of faith is the way of law, which says, "If you wish to find life by obeying the law, you must obey all of its commands." 13 But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." 14 Through the work of Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, and we Christians receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.

In verse 13 it says, "rescued from the curse pronounced by the law". That curse is death. Jesus sets believers free from that curse of death through their faith.

2 Corinthians 5:21

21  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

So, Jesus is an offering for our sin. Why is He an offering for sin, and not "uncle Sam"? Because "uncle Sam:" sinned and he can't be an offering for someone else's sin when he, himself, has sins to already account for,  if he is without Christ. Jesus being holy is how He is able to be the offering for sin. Hebrews 4:14-16

So, after knowing what legalism is, what are believers to do after faith? We are to keep God's commandments, and love others as ourselves. Ecclesiastes 12:13

Ephesians 2:8-10

8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

So, if someone says you're being "legalistic" by simply obeying God's commandments from faith then don't take it to heart. Believe it or not, not everyone in the church is called to be a teacher so don't take their word at it. Analyze what they say and see if it fits. If it doesn't fit,  then don't give it anymore attention. We are saved through faith and through that faith we must have works showing from that faith or our faith is not really faith but dead faith.. James 2:14-26

James 2:14-26

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

In another place in the Bible it talks about putting on meekness. That's something that is suppose to be done by all believers. Colossians 3:12

12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

To be "meek" is to be submissive to God's law This doesn't have to be a 'submit submit submit, or else!' but like a child trusting their dad having the best at heart for him. He trusts his dad so he submits to his instructions and follows. 

So, a believer who says, "You are being legalistic. We are not under the law anymore." ought to submit to God's law. "Putting oncompassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,..

But suppose the person is right and we are not "under the law". That would mean we can act lawlessly if we truly aren't "under the law" in how they are using it. Matthew 7 Where do the works from faith come in then? Where does the commandment keeping come in? We are not "under the law" in case of "earning salvation", or under it's penalty of death, but we most certainly are under the law in the sense of we are to obey. We aren't above the law, and neither was Jesus in the sense of not having to obey. Sin is still called sin and sin is transgression of God's law. How can we have sincere godly faith and not show works coming from that faith? Is repenting not the forsaking, and confessing, of sin? It most certainly is. So, if we forsake sin then we ought to obey God..

Romans 6:15-23

15 Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, (set us free from the curse of death) does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 16 Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. 17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. 18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

19 Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.

20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. 21 And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. 22 But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. 

So, after this post, what have you learned?.. Doing works "for salvation" is wrong. Doing works from faith is right, and godly. James 2:14-26 Both of those aren't the same. If you need to take note of what legalism means then take a note. It means keeping God's commandments "for salvation". Not to show our love and appreciation towards God after faith in His Son, Jesus..

Here are some extra scriptures..

Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right: The righteous walk in them. But the transgressors stumble in them. Hosea 14:9

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, "by his wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:24

2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments... 1 John 5:2-3

John 14:15-21 

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Revelation 19:8

So, here are some passages to practice on. See if you can figure out which type of righteousness it's talking about in context..

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 6:1

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. Romans 5:18

 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? Romans 6:16

and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:18

If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. Romans 8:10

For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. Romans 10:5

But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: … Romans 10:6

for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. Romans 10:10

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, Philippians 3:9

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:5

 who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, Hebrews 11:33

If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. 1 John 2:29

 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 1 John 3:7

Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy. Revelation 22:11

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24

So, that's what legalism is. No one can be saved through works because they need their sin removed first. That is only done through faith in Christ. This faith is the righteousness for salvation. To be "justified" in God's sight is to have their sin removed through the blood of Christ.

If you would like for me to go through a topic or passage leave it in the comment section below..

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