Since the church began, the devil has
concocted any number of diabolical schemes to ensnare God's people. One
of his most successful gambits has been the invention of the pseudo-sin
commonly called legalism. More people consider legalism to be a sin
than consider 7-UP to be a cola, but they are all mistaken. Legalism is
Legalism is defined as "strict, literal
or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code"
(Webster's Dictionary). Simply put, a legalist follows the rules.
I was not there when the devil and his
angels dreamed up this strategy for getting Christians to commit more
sin by convincing them that legalism is a sin. But I must say that it
was a stroke of genius. Just think of it -- being able to actually
convince people that not committing sin is a sin!
Satan must have noticed that early
disciples "continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine" (Acts 2:42),
and that they were expected to be "obedient in all things" (2
Corinthians 2:9). At some point however, Satan also became aware
that the apostles and prophets of Christ were teaching Jewish Christians
that they could not rely on their obedience to the Law of Moses for
their salvation; it would do them no good to strictly follow the Law of
Moses. And that's when Satan hatched his scheme. He knew that if he
could convince Christians that the apostolic warnings against becoming
"entangled again with a yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1) were
talking about strictly keeping the commands of Jesus, then he could get
them to stop being concerned with commandment keeping.
This is what has happened. Millions of
people today who call themselves Christians believe that strict
obedience to God is a sin called legalism. They believe that to be a
faithful Christian one must not be too concerned with actually doing
exactly what Jesus said to do. Their leaders write things like the
"Stringently striving to obey Christian
rules and regulations doesn't enable the Spirit-filled walk; it often
kills it" (2 Corinthians 3:6). [Neil Anderson, Freed
Please note that in the verse cited by this
anti-legalist, the apostle Paul states that God "made us sufficient as
ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for
the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." What is "the letter"
in this passage? Is it "Christian rules and regulations" as Mr.
Anderson states? We don't have to guess, for Paul tells us in the
next verse. The letter that kills is called "the ministry of
death, written and engraved on stones" (2 Corinthians 2:7). "The
letter" is plainly the Law of Moses! It was written on tablets of
Over and over again the apostles of
Christ warn that striving to strictly follow the Law of Moses will lead
to death, not life! But NOWHERE do they state that strictly following
the commands of Christ will do the same.
The New Testament never condemns the
strict keeping of the commandments of God. It always commends it. Even
the hair-splitting, herb-tithing, commandment-keeping Pharisees were not
condemned for keeping God's commandments too well. They were condemned
for keeping the small requirements while leaving off the big ones.
Jesus told them that they should have kept BOTH! "These you ought to
have done, without leaving the others undone" (Matthew 23:23).
My friends, those who love God will
keep His commandments. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His
commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).
Those who don't keep God's commandments, don't really know Him. "Now by
this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says,
"I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the
truth is not in him" (1 John 2:3-4).
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