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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist


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....
(Romans 14:1-6)
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)
------------------------
 “belongeth”
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.

 

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist
1 minute ago, Pastorj said:

Please define what you believe Legalism is - Are you saying that legalism is standards that are not based on Scripture?

That is actually an interesting topic.  "Legalism" is a word that is used among us (usually to the negative) with a certain amount of regularity.  Yet the definition for the term "legalism" seems a bit nebulous, being viewed differently depending on the different users.  What then IS the definition of "legalism"?  It is not strictly a Biblical word, but a word that has been coined in order to describe a Biblical idea.  What then do we mean when we use the term?  (Note: I DO have my own established definition for the term "legalism" when I use it, but I recognize that others may have a different definition when they use it.)

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

The term legalism and legalistic is thrown around typically when one doesn't like your Biblical beliefs. Your legalistic if you hold to a dress code, tithing or any number of positions that cause differences in opinion. Unfortunately, this definition is a modern definition and not a Biblical one.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Hello Pastorj
That is a good question.
I have found myself gravitating to that word over the years(about 30 years), when I have encountered brothers or sister in Christ, who are “teaching” things, that are not found in the Bible.

Also, the more I studied the Word of God, the more I became convinced, that this was more than just a “difference of opinion”, but indeed it was a big problem.

Not only does it bring real harm to the legalist, but also hurts those he ministers to, by bringing them into a kind of bondage.
------------------------
I used to have the “bad habit”, of asking different pastors or missionaries that I encountered, to “define legalism” for me?

This ended, the day that a missionary responded to my question, with....
   “A legalist us someone, who has more standards than I do!”

It seems that “majoring on standards”, can become dangerous also.

 

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist
3 hours ago, SureWord said:

"Legalism" has to do with what Paul warned the Galatians about, i.e. falling back under the works of the law when you have liberty in Christ. As Pastorj has stated it has nothing to do with having standards and convictions in your church or family.

Indeed, I believe that "legalism" IS a Biblical concept, and a "bad" one at that.  I believe that the Biblical concept concerns a reliance upon the law (a keeping of a set of commandments, whether God-made or man-made) as the foundational power either for salvation or for sanctification.  I believe that the apostle Paul handled the matter of "legalism" concerning salvation throughout the epistle to the Romans and that he handled the matter of "legalism" concerning sanctification throughout the epistle to the Galatians.  (The matter of Biblical "legalism" is also handled at various other places within the Scriptures.)

Concerning the matter of "standards," having and even teaching "standards" is NOT in itself the essence of Biblical "legalism."  However, relying upon a set of "standards" as the foundation for sanctification/spirituality WOULD be a characteristic of Biblical "legalism."  In truth, such a reliance upon "standards" as the foundation for sanctification/spirituality will inevitably breed Biblical hypocrisy (which the Lord our God utterly hates).   

Edited by Pastor Scott Markle
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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist
12 hours ago, Pastor Scott Markle said:

Indeed, I believe that "legalism" IS a Biblical concept, and a "bad" one at that.  I believe that the Biblical concept concerns a reliance upon the law (a keeping of a set of commandments, whether God-made or man-made) as the foundational power either for salvation or for sanctification.  I believe that the apostle Paul handled the matter of "legalism" concerning salvation throughout the epistle to the Romans and that he handled the matter of "legalism" concerning sanctification throughout the epistle to the Galatians.  (The matter of Biblical "legalism" is also handled at various other places within the Scriptures.)

Concerning the matter of "standards," having and even teaching "standards" is NOT in itself the essence of Biblical "legalism."  However, relying upon a set of "standards" as the foundation for sanctification/spirituality WOULD be a characteristic of Biblical "legalism."  In truth, such a reliance upon "standards" as the foundation for sanctification/spirituality will inevitably breed Biblical hypocrisy (which the Lord our God utterly hates).   

I agree completely. Legalism is dealing with salvation, not standards.

When Pastors teach things that are not Scripturally based (Command or Principle), that is just called Heresy or Bad teaching. Unfortunately this is very common in a lot of our churches. Now we have to be careful in this area because the Bible is not a book full of do's and don'ts. There are a number of principles where the application can vary. 

Be dogmatic on doctrine, be flexible on your preferences.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist
3 hours ago, Pastorj said:

I agree completely. Legalism is dealing with salvation, not standards.

For clarity I must contend -- "Legalism" is dealing with salvation AND sanctification, not standards.  I know a number of pastors and preachers who argue that "legalism" is a Biblical matter that concerns ONLY the issue of salvation.  With this I must strongly disagree.  The apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was dealing with the matter of Biblical "legalism" throughout the entire epistle to the Galatians; and his primary focus was not the issue of salvation, but was the issue of sanctification (as per Galatians 3:1-3).

Edited by Pastor Scott Markle
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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist
1 hour ago, Pastor Scott Markle said:

For clarity I must contend -- "Legalism" is dealing with salvation AND sanctification, not standards.  I know a number of pastors and preachers who argue that "legalism" is a Biblical matter that concerns ONLY the issue of salvation.  With this I must strongly disagree.  The apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was dealing with the matter of Biblical "legalism" throughout the entire epistle to the Galatians; and his primary focus was not the issue of salvation, but was the issue of sanctification (as per Galatians 3:1-3).

I don't disagree with you, but it is not dealing with Biblical preferences that are based on principles found in Scripture that good men disagree on. I believe we are saying the same thing.

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  • 1 month later...

Here is how I have defined "Legalism" and "Liberalism" in regards to Christianity and the Bible.

God's word expresses both Obedience and Compassion. Those two will ALWAYS be in balance.

Legalists place Obedience above Compassion to the point that Compassion is trivialized and more often than not completely dismissed entirely.

Liberals place Compassion above Obedience to the point that Obedience is trivialized and more often than not dismissed entirely.

However, the practice of Legalism always results in disobedience, because true Obedience factors in Compassion. (Example: the men who wanted to stone the adulteress, yet ignored her partner, who she committed adultery with)

As well, Liberalism leads to cruelty, as true Obedience always brings with it adequate Compassion (example: people claiming homosexuality is not a sin, thereby condemning people to live a horrible life chained to sin.)

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Is this a close definition?

 
 
 
 
le·gal·ism
/ˈlēɡəˌlizəm/
noun
 
  1. excessive adherence to law or formula.
    "this petty legalism encouraged more to flee"
    • THEOLOGY
      dependence on moral law rather than on personal religious faith.
      "stress obedience apart from faith and you produce legalism"
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  • 1 month later...
  • Members
On 3/18/2021 at 9:32 AM, heartstrings said:

Is this a close definition?

 
 
 
 
le·gal·ism
/ˈlēɡəˌlizəm/
noun
 
  1. excessive adherence to law or formula.
    "this petty legalism encouraged more to flee"
    • THEOLOGY
      dependence on moral law rather than on personal religious faith.
      "stress obedience apart from faith and you produce legalism"

Thank you! I appreciate that definition. I know that personally I describe "legalism" as some of the things I experienced in IFB churches growing up. I was told I had to wear suits instead of jeans and a nice shirt. No tennis or running shoes, but I could wear my cowboy boots or wingtips! I had to wear a tie...it could be my bolo tie or a regular tie. I HAD to wear one. It was only "Scriptural" that I wear my very best "Sunday go to meeting" clothes when I went to church. I found this to be ludicrous, especially on Wednesday evenings when I had to come in from working in the shop or the restaurant. Then there was the "if your hair touches your ears or your collar, it's considered long," and the "you can't have a beard or mustache and preach in the church." I mean, it got worse from there, but I won't go on with other examples. It turned me off to even wanting to be in my home church growing up, and I worked as much as I could to stay away from the place. When I did work on Sundays at the Mr. Steak where I was employed as a busboy and prep-cook, I would meet with the local Assembly of God church that would have their SS class there in our restaurant. Outside of the "tongues" bit, the local AoG believed pretty much the same as my local church. They weren't preaching the  ideologies of men as Scripture, though. 

I can say right now that for many years (I suffer from bilateral Meniere's disease) that I couldn't get my hair cut, at least not on a regular basis, and this angered some preachers. I was told that I was unregenerate, that I was rebellious, and that I had no business preaching. It was strange to me that I was leading more people to the Lord than they were. I often wondered if the Lord really wanted me because of all of the abuse at the hands of not only preachers, but of other Christians. I never lost my faith in God, but I did lose my faith in my fellow Christians. For several years we were on again, off again in church. But, the Lord kept showing me that he, too, had been abused by the religious leaders of his day, and he went to the cross anyway for them, me, you and anyone who would accept Him. It's been a life-changer for me. Legalism can drag on, but I will keep on keeping on for Jesus Christ.

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