Objections to Real Justification: Legalism

Real Justification is not just about making you righteous in standing, but actually righteous. Righteous people do righteous things. The Gospel makes you a righteous person who does righteous things. If you are not becoming a more righteous person, you are not saved.

People object to this sort of plain statement. But I’m in good company, the Apostle John says it plainly too:

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

John not good enough for you? Try on some Apostle Paul:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

So, if I’m concerned about the state of someone’s soul, I’m going to tell them that putting sin to death is what a believer does, what a believer now can do with the Gospel’s power.

Yet pretty much anytime you tell someone to stop sinning you will be charged with teaching legalism.

Legalism is a real problem. Legalism is teaching the commandments of men as the commandments of God. it’s an obsession with making rules, usually driving conformity in a group.

Legalism has nothing to do with what I’m talking about.

I don’t care how well you keep some guy’s made up rules. I’m concerned with you keeping God’s commands.

Listening to God is not legalism.

Let me repeat that:

Listening to God is not legalism.

I’m not telling anyone to live up to my standard or my church’s standard of behavior. What difference would that make? I’m not their judge, nor is my church.

How well you obey arbitrary commands of random people will not come up on Judgment Day.

How well you listened to God will. Quite a bit. In fact, that’s all that will be brought up.

Here’s some more Paul:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

Paul says he tells people to do good because he knows the terror of the Lord. Got that?

Paul understands what’s going to happen on Judgment Day. You won’t be judged on your intentions, your happy thoughts, your sentimental feelings, nor all your churchy things you did to impress others.

God will judge what you’ve done with your body.

Righteous people are the only ones who will and can use their body to do righteous things. No righteous things done with your body? Then you’re not getting in.

Want to get in? Do righteous things. Want to do righteous things? Then come to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You must be born again, recreated in Christ to do good works, which God before ordained that we should walk in.

3 thoughts on “Objections to Real Justification: Legalism”

  1. “The true Christian hates sin, flees from it, fights against it, considers it his greatest plague, resents the burden of its presence, mourns when he falls under its influence, and longs to be completely delivered from it.”
    ~J.C. Ryle

  2. I don’t care how well you keep some guy’s made up rules. I’m concerned with you keeping God’s commands.

    Ironically, I know some who would disagree with your main point about justification and righteousness who wouldn’t hesitate to set rules for other Christians to follow.

  3. Indeed! If you eliminate the need for others to listen to God, it is inevitably replaced by the need for others to listen to you.

    I know a guy who was so adamant about not having to listen to God, so against legalism, that he judged people based on how much legalism they did. For instance, I wore a tie one day to church and he told me “We don’t wear ties, we’re not legalists.” I remember the day and his absolute utter inability to see how he veered into legalism by trying to not be a legalist. It’s an amazing thing to behold.

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