Christians like to bash on legalism. “Legalism” is an interesting word, one never used in the Bible. When people call others “legalistic,” it’s hard to tell what they mean exactly.
For most, it seems that “legalism” is defined as “keeping rules.” Christians like to talk about grace and liberty, and avoid rule-talk like the plague.
However, let it be noted, avoiding rules thus becomes a rule. I have met many a grace-fanatic who had just as much legalism than those they accused of being legalistic.
Tell a grace-fanatic you read the Sermon on the Mount and you’ll find out right quick how legalistic they are! I thought we had liberty to read what we wanted?
Here’s a quote I saw on the internets the other day by a guy bashing legalism. This is said snarkily, using sarcasm.
“Do you want to be loved of Christ? Do you want to be loved of the Father? The Lord Jesus said ‘well, keep my rules.'”
The snarky point is this: we just love Christ and you can’t do that by rule following.
I will grant the point that following someone’s rules does not mean that you love them. No argument there. However, here is where many go off the deep end.
Apparently, to many “non-legalists,” since we love Jesus we don’t have to follow His rules.
Unfortunately, the Bible is a pesky book, always throwing stuff in there to keep you from goofy extremes, if you let it.
Speaking of love, Jesus once said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
So, there you go! Jesus loves us. He proved it by dying for us. The End. No rules.
Until you read the very next verse, which says, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
Make sure you get that one. A conclusion easily drawn from these two verses is that Jesus didn’t lay down His life for people who don’t keep His commandments. People who don’t keep His commandments show they have no interest in understanding or benefiting from the death of Christ.
I know this is inconvenient to your theories about grace and legalism, but alas, He who brought grace and truth done said it.
Jesus also said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” John said that those who love God keep His commandments and His commandments are not grievous.
No, you don’t get saved by works. We are saved by God’s grace when we respond through faith. Faith means hearing God’s Word, which is more than whether or not your ears work. Faith is acting on God’s Word as shown by Hebrews 11 and many other passages.
When you love God, you don’t mind obeying Him. Anyone who fights the command to obey God is revealing they lack love for Him. We know God loves us, therefore, we need not fear obeying Him.
Come alive to that, the liberty of obedience to Christ. Drop the legalism charge, there are very few legalists in the world, they aren’t the biggest problem facing us.
Faith works. Go let your faith work.