This message, offers an answer, to “the problem of legalism”.
➀ First, before you stop reading, telling yourself, .....
“I am not a legalist, I just have more standards than he does!”
You had better make sure, that your “standards”, are based clearly on sound Doctrine. Because if they are not, than you have a big problem.
➁ Two reasons, “legalism” is a problem, that needs to be fixed...
(A) It effects your worship...
“Howbeit in vain do they worship me,
teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mark 7:7)
If we find ourselves, teaching “Doctrines”, that are not spelled out in the Word of God,
than Jesus says, that this will make our worship of Him “a waste of time”!
He wants us to worship him, “in Spirit and in truth”! And that requires that we minister “God’s Word” to others, not “our opinion”!
(B) Also, legalism stunts our Spiritual growth....
V.1 ¶ Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, [but] not to doubtful disputations.
V.2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
V.3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
V.4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
V.5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day [alike]. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
V.6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth [it] unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard [it]. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
A familiar passage, that gives us two examples of “legalism”. And in this passage, we see that the legalist is regarded as being “weak”. This is a “weakness in the faith”.
Notice, in the rest of this passage, we are not told to do anything to try and bring this brother to the error of his ways. Because this might place a stumbling block before him.
But, we are not dissuaded, from using God’s Word, to educate our brothers and sisters in the deeper areas of God’s Word.
➂ The answer to this problem....
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)
Lets take a closer look at this verse...
“But strong meat”
This is not talking about food. This is talking about the deeper parts of the Bible.
There are some parts of almost every verse in the Bible, that have a “deeper meaning”, that is hidden from young Christians or the casual reader. (Proverbs 25:2)
The LORD is the one, who determines how deeply we understand the Bible, at any given point in our walk with Him. Here we learn that when He gives us this understanding, it “belongs” to us.
This means(for one thing), that we should learn to keep things the Lord shows us, to ourselves, until He tells us when and how to share them. (Proverbs 29:11)
“to them that are of full age,”
Each of us have two ages. Our actual age, from the day we were born.
And our Spiritual age, that is not determined by time, but by our commitment to the Lord and to His Word.
At different points in our Spiritual lives, the Lord decides what He wants us to know.
But, being “Spiritually mature”, doesn’t depend upon what you “know”, but upon what you “understand”.
[even] “those who by reason of use”
This is an instruction, to “use” something!
So now, we are talking about the subject of “receiving understanding” from the LORD.
And the mysterious way, this is accomplished. I said “mysterious”, because this was a complete mystery to me, until the day the Lord revealed it to me.
For all the untold hundreds of times I had studied through Hebrews and never saw this truth, makes this mysterious, to me.
“have their senses exercised”
So the other shoe drops. What it is that we are to “use”, in order to gain understanding from the LORD. Our “senses”. All of them.
As mature Christians, we are to be brave and not be afraid, of “exposing ourselves to things”, that we might be telling ourselves are “wrong”: Even though God’s Word has nothing to say about it.
This is learning to be sensitive to the “leading of the Holy Spirit”, who will quickly let us know, if we are going in a direction He does not want us to go in.
I am not talking about any form of lasciviousness. What I am talking about is a quest, to learn God’s will for our lives. So that He can reward us, with deeper understanding of His Word and His Will and Who He is.
“to discern both good and evil.”
The Lord wants us to learn to “discern”, what is Good and Evil, not based upon what the latest hot preacher, has to say about it. But what God has to say about it!
Also, each of us having “different” weaknesses, will compile differing lists, of what are good and evil, for us.
A few years ago I realized something(praise the Lord), but I haven’t yet seen an open door to share it, until now. Yesterday’s response on this site, by DaveW, was the open door I have been waiting for.
What I am referring to is the Scripture..........
"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." (Proverbs 27:17)
What the Lord pointed out to me, is the fact that most people do not know how to “sharpen” an axe! If you do not know how to make an axe’s edge SHARP, you will not know how this Scripture works!
Let me start, at where I learned to “make an edge SHARP”! I was just a young married man with a young family to support and had a job at a shop that built air conditioning ducts(the old fashioned way, by hand), This construction required thousands of 1/8" holes to be drilled in sheet metal.
All of this drilling, caused these 1/8" drill bits to become dull. But instead of throwing them away, my boss would have us “re-sharpen them”, and they would be LIKE NEW. So as I was being instructed on how to do this, I leaned that the way that my mind thought, would make these bits sharper, actually made them duller! I quickly learned the right way to do it and the same principal works with any iron, that needs to be sharpened.
Occasionally, over the years I would see on a television show or movie, an actor’s depiction of an old farmer, sharpening an axe and I would be reminded of the way that I thought it should be done and how that most people think that it is done that way.
Then, a few years ago, I applied this fact, of “how to truly sharpen an axe”, to this Scripture; And realized God’s method, of truly making my self sharper!
Picture in your mind, a grinding wheel, in front of you; and your ready to sharpen your axe. Now, as your lowering the axe toward the wheel, with it’s edge away from you, is the wheel turning toward you or away from you. The way that seems to be more “logical” and “safe”, is for the wheel to be turning away from you.
That is, with the wheel going in the same direction as the blade’s edge. This will make the blade duller and duller(building up more and more metal on the edge). But, if the wheel is turning against the sharp edge of the blade, it will be removing more and more metal, making the blade sharper and sharper.
The way this applies to this scripture, is: If we only debate and discuss the Bible with people that we totally agree with, than we will get more and more assured, that we are right. But, if we discuss the Bible with Christians, that hold an apposing view of that subject or Doctrine, than it will give the Holy Spirit a chance to chip away at some of the wrong ideas that we have.
I can somewhat understand, why some people would want to avoid these kinds of heated discussions, because it is not always fun, to be told that your opinion is wrong. But if it’s wrong, you(we), should be anxious to be corrected, so that we can be “rightly dividing the Word of truth”!
I have yet to find an individual in my area, who is willing to have these kinds of discussions with me. Local pastors and friends that I know, do not want to get into the weeds, of any of those subjects, we are not in total agreement on.
But, praise the Lord for the internet, where people feel more free to be truthful with you, when they think that you are wrong. And for forums like this, where you are able to say “almost” anything. I recall a few years ago, there was a site called “The fighting fundamentalists”. Where you could go and discuss ANY SUBJECT OR ISSUE. It was kind of like the old west. Sure, there may have been a lot of “un-Christlike responses”, but you had to be tough and stand your ground with Scripture.
Nothing was ever said or done, to PROTECT anybodies feelings! Those were the good old days.
I recall a “Reformed site”(Calvinist), that did not allow any statements or even questions, that would call into question the “Calvinist view of things”. I was kicked off almost immediately. But the problem with that was, it HURT the Spiritual Walk, of every true Christian that was on that site, because they are being PROTECTED from opposing views.
Facing OPPOSING VIEWS, is good for us. Because it forces us to take a closer look at what we believe.
There is another site, called “the Baptist Board”. I spent a lot of years there and it did some wonderful things in my life, because it is ran by and filled with, people who believe that being King James Only, is some incurable disease.
All the years that I spent “defending the Bible” on that site, increased my faith in God’s
Word a hundred fold. BUT, on a few occasions, I had to back off. On times when the onslaught of attacks became too pointed or when attacks started coming from people that I respected on that site, I would have to back off and stay away from that site.
There were times that I felt like David, when he penned....
"But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped." (Psalms 73:2)
When there were times, when I would start to even consider the possibility, that God’s Word could have any mistakes!!!! I knew that I needed to back off from these lies and get back into God’s Word and allow the LORD, to restore my faith!
Yes, these were dangerous times; But they worked together for good, in my life. And who knows how many souls, were encouraged by my stand, to take a stand of their own.
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