December 7, 2008

LEGALISM (Judgmental, Self-righteous, Uncaring)

How can legalism destroy our witness?

Matthew 12:1-14
Then he went over to the synagogue, and noticed there a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Is it legal to work by healing on the Sabbath day?” (They were, of course, hoping he would say “Yes,” so they could arrest him!) (Matthew 12:9-10, tlb)
Legalism puts rules above God. As they pointed to the man with the shriveled hand, the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by asking him if it was legal to heal on the Sabbath. Their Sabbath rules said that people could be helped on the Sabbath only if their lives were in danger. Jesus healed on the Sabbath several times, and none of those healings were in response to emergencies. If Jesus had waited until another day, he would have been submitting to the Pharisees’ authority, showing that their petty rules were equal to God’s law. If he healed the man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees could claim that because Jesus broke their rules, his power was not from God. But Jesus made it clear how ridiculous and petty their rules were. God is a God of people, not rules. The best time to reach out to someone is when he or she needs help.
Legalism puts rules above human needs. The Pharisees were so concerned about Jesus’ breaking one of their rules that they did not care about the man’s shriveled hand. What is your attitude toward others? If your convictions don’t allow you to help certain people, your convictions may not be in tune with God’s Word. Don’t allow dogma to blind you to human need.

Galatians 4:8-20
Before you Gentiles knew God you were slaves to so-called gods that did not even exist. And now that you have found God (or I should say, now that God has found you) how can it be that you want to go back again and become slaves once more to another poor, weak, useless religion of trying to get to heaven by obeying God’s laws? (Galatians 4:8-9, tlb)
Legalism kills joy. Have you lost your joy? Paul sensed that the Galatians had lost the joy of their salvation because of legalism. Legalism can take away joy because (1) it makes people feel guilty rather than loved; (2) it produces self-hatred rather than humility; (3) it stresses performance over relationship; and (4) it points out how far short we fall rather than how far we’ve come because of what Christ did for us. If you feel guilty and inadequate, check your focus. Are you living by faith in Christ or by trying to live up to the demands and expectations of others?

Colossians 2:6-23
Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. (Colossians 2:23, niv)

Legalism is attractive, but destructive. To the Colossians, the discipline demanded by the false teachers seemed good, and legalism still attracts many people today. Following a long list of religious rules requires strong self-discipline and can make a person appear moral, but religious rules cannot change a person’s heart. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.

For the Baptist Identity People, this is a recommended read.
I Pray that this will cause you’all to search your Hearts and Not Put God in a Box.