What a legalist is Not

What a legalist is Not

One is not a legalist if they believe that Christians ought to live in such a way so as to Please God.

Paul prayed for the Colossians ;that they might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work (Col. 1: 10). Further, Paul instructed the Thessalonians how they ought to walk and to please God (I Thess. 4:1) because God had called them unto holiness (I Thess. 4:7).

For this reason, Paul gave them commandments (do’s and don’ts or rules and regulations). It was not uncommon for Paul to refer to these standards for holy living as commandments (I Thess. 4:2; 1 Cor. 14:37), ordinances (I Cor. 11:2; Rom. 13:2), traditions (11 Thess. 2:15; 3:6), rules (Phil. 3:16-17; Gal. 6:16), and laws (Rom. 8:2; Gal. 6:2).

One is not a legalist if, as a Pastor, they expect those who are in their charge to please God.

Paul wanted the Philippians to be blameless and sincere, the sons of God without rebuke (Phil. 2:15). He wanted them to obey and to work out their own salvation (the proper execution of the Christian way of life) with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). The pastor watches over the souls of his people and is accountable to God. He wants to do this with joy and not with grief (Heb. 13:17).

One is not a legalist if they preach against those things that are clearly identified as sin (I Cor. 6:9-10; Rom. 13:8-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 4:22-32; 5:3-6) and insist with Paul, let it not be once named among you as becometh saints (Eph. 5:3).

One is not a legalist if they believe that God gave every believer many clear Biblical principles so that they can judge the rightness or wrongness of questionable issues of life.

I believe that God said such things as: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (I John 2:15); Be not conformed to the world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2); Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof (Rom. 13:14); Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are. God (I Cor. 6:19-20); Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (I Cor. 10:31); Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing (11 Cor. 6:17); Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret (Eph. 5:11-12); and Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Phil. 4:8), so as to give us a frame of reference in order that we might be able to judge sin in our lives. It is through these and similar Scriptures that the grace of God teaches us that, Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:12).

One is not a legalist if they preach so as to warn people against those things which have proven to be hazardous to the Christian’s growth, productivity and testimony.

One is not a legalist because, as a pastor, they insist on some rules and regulations for the orderly operation (I Cor. 14:33,40) of the local church, and a quality standard for its leadership to serve as an example to the congregation (Phil. 3:17; 4:9).

God has given specific individuals the authority to legislate (set up rules and regulations, do’s and don’ts or standards) for others. For example, God has given parents the responsibility to set up necessary rules for the home (Eph. 6:1-3). God has given Government Officials the responsibility of establishing and enforcing necessary rules for an orderly society (Rom. 13:1-3).

The Pastor also, under God, has the awesome responsibility to determine the principles and guidelines by which the church must operate (1 Thess. 5:12; Heb. 13:7,17). God expects these legislated rules to be obeyed unless they conflict with His Word (Acts 5:29).

No one should accuse a church or pastor of being legalistic because, in order to maintain a God-honoring standard, they have taken a stand against certain questionable activities or have established sound standards of operation.

We are not among those who teach that since we are not under the Law but under grace, we have a license to sin. To such a perversion of grace, Paul cries out, “God forbid!” (Rom. 6:1-2; Gal. 5:13).

These same perverters of grace say “remove the do’s and don’ts, tear down the standard” but the problem is not with the standard but in how we approach the standard. If we approach the standard thinking that conformity to it is meritorious in the sight of God to either save us or to make us spiritual, then we are legalists! On the other hand, if we approach the standard because the Holy Ghost conforms us to the image of Christ through His enabling power, this is not legalism, but rather the outworking of the grace provision in our lives.

One is not a legalist because they insist on full compliance to Acts 2:38, and teach that all must obey the full plan of salvation to be saved.

One is a “Grace Preacher” who wants to see an end to the awful worldliness, indifference, loose living, half-heartedness and selfishness which has emptied churches, given Jesus Christ second place and makes evil to triumph. One is a “Grace Preacher” who believes that all believers must meet the Lord Jesus Christ at the Judgment Seat (Col. 3:11-25; 11 Cor. 5: 10; 11 Tim. 4:8) to give an account of themselves.

— jlg —

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