Legalism and Legalism versus Grace

Legalism is something that some 2x2s struggle with. What is legalism?


Legalism. What is it? This is a non-specific question. Legalism would have to be defined, and there are many views and definitions for the word legalism. I'm going to share my opinion and thoughts on the matter and also try to find some scripture that deals with the issue. I don't believe 2x2s are legalistic (using definition of legalisms that I've found). 2x2s don't follow any laws that I know of. They follow man-made rules that may vary from OVERSEER to OVERSEER's fields. I suppose it could be called "rulism" (rule-ism). Whatever it may be called, it is not based on the laws of God and I think it's injurious to think of it as being based on God in any way. They may quote some scripture, but they twist an understanding of the scripture to try to justify their rules. Their rules are ridiculous and sinful in light of the Holy Scripture.

Legalism - Laws versus Ordinances

There is a difference between laws and ordinances. This is another discussion.

Legalsim versus Understanding God's Laws

First off, I would like to say that you cannot follow the letter of the whole law and commandments of God with proper understanding and become legalistic (like the Scribes and Pharisees) and not accept the grace of God. I think legalism stems from exagerating a misunderstanding of a part of God's word and misusing it to claim salvation through the will of the flesh. A good understanding of the law leads to spirit-filled praise of God. David, the king of Israel, loved the law of God, praised it and meditated on it. I will locate those verses and publish them here.

Psa 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
Psa_37:31 The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
Psa 40:8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

Legalism - The Misunderstanding of Purpose and Use of Law

Legalism when accepting the laws and commandments of God is good. God made the laws and gave the commandments. They are good, holy and right. They are not designed to save. They are designed to show God's will and what is good and right and moral. They are not designed to save. For example, a person should not be confused by apples and rescuing drowning people. Apples are designed for eating and are not flotation devices to save people from drowning. There is no scripture nor teaching of God that says that the law can save us through our own effort. It was never designed for it. I think that we can believe Satan's lie that if we obey God say 65% of the time then we are saved, or whatever percentage a person would give. The law teaches that if we break one commandment, then we are sinners. End of discussion. Since I believe God doesn't like, then by only knowing the law I am condemned and going to hell. But there is more to God than just the law.

Legalism - Grace

Loving the law of God fits well with the grace of God. Trying to define and explain the grace of God takes some doing. I did study the issue, but don't remember if I documented it. The apostle Paul documents that salvation comes through faith in God and by the grace of God and always has and always will. In Paul's writings, he goes through from Abraham and on and shows how the scripture records that it was by faith that Abraham was saved and not works. There is a difference between "works" and "legalism" but there are similarities. And that is another discussion. While this paragraph may not have been too helpful, I would like to share some illustrations.

Legalism - Illustration of Father and Adopted Son

A father tells his adopted son not to play in the street. They boy hears his father and knows his father loves him. The son knows that his father is his father because he has proof he is his son. The boy loves his dad and is playing out by the road. Some bad people come over and push the boy into the street. A car comes by at this time and runs the boy over.

Legalism Questions:

  • Is the boy still his father's son?
  • If the father in this story has power to resurrect his adopted son, would he do it?
  • Why?
  • Was the father commanding his adopted son out of love?
  • Did the father ever hate his adopted son for getting run over?
  • Was it against the love of the father to give his son this commandment to not play in the street?
  • What do you think the father will do to the bad people who pushed his son into the street?

Legalism - Illustration of Disobedient Son

Luk 15:11 And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: or this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Legalism Questions about the Disobedient Son:

  • Did the father love both sons?
  • Did the disobedient son disobey God?
  • Did the disobedient son sin against his father?
  • Did his father love him the whole time?
  • Did the son believe in God?
  • Did the son have enough faith in God to repent?
  • What do you think the father's response would have been if the son came back and lived in his father's house, continued his riotous living and claimed he was not living in sin?
  • Did the rebellious son repent and act in faith in God?
  • Did the disobedient son that lived riotously break the commandments of God and his father?

Helpful Legalistic Questions

Here are some questions that I think help clear things up.

  • Is there any place where God says that we can only go to heaven if we always keep all his laws?
  • Has there been anyone except Jesus Christ who has always kept the laws of God?
  • Does God give his commandments and laws because he wants us to fail or because he wants to help us?
  • Is there any scripture that says that any person was saved by their own works and not the grace of God?
  • When righteous prophets saw God, what was their response in regards to their own righteousness?
  • Does knowing and obeying God's law bring stress or peace?
  • Are there any scriptures that say that God's law is bad or evil?
  • Are there any good things that come from meditating, obeying and keeping the laws of God?
  • If you robbed a bank (broke the laws of God and man), how would you feel if you never repented and returned the money plus damages?
  • If you lied to and robbed a widow while planning on saying you were "sorry" afterwards but never really believed that what you did was wrong, how would this make you feel inside?
  • Do we all follow rules whether of God or our own making?
  • Who is better at deciding what should be laws and commandments: anybody you know, yourself or God?
Psa_119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

I think that much of the trash talk by religious people against the laws and commandments of God is because they don't know God, don't have faith in God's word and don't understand the laws and commandments of God. see also Ten Commandments - Home.

Legalism and Pride

I have noticed that people who speak against God's commandments and teachings have an inflated opinion of themselves and are selfish people. I've also noticed that they are living in sin and want to justify themselves by making up their own rules and terms by which they esteem themselves righteous.

Legalism and Satan's Work

I think it is the work of Satan to tell us that we can earn God's love by our own works rather than faith in God.

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