Liberty to Legalism
Study of Legalism, "Pharisees," and Christian Liberty
Timothy S. Morton
All Rights Reserved
All Scripture references and
quotations are from
Authorized King James Version
of the Bible.
fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and
not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Gal. 5:1)
One aspect of salvation that seems
today is the fact that a born again Christian is free from the bondage
of sin and the "yoke" of the law. "Christ hath redeemed us from the
curse of the law...," purchasing our freedom with His blood, but as
it was in Galatia in Paul's day, so it is today; there are still those
who wish to take a Christian's liberty from him. Liberty must be
protected. If not, someone will invariably try to take it from him.
From the influence of some "well meaning brethren," the Galatians were
considering attempting to keep the Old Testament law along with
the work of Christ on the cross. Their "friends" were convincing them
would be more pleased and they would be more "acceptable"
if they kept His "holy eternal law." Paul, however, rebukes them for
thinking and tells them only a "fool " would willingly trade
for bondage (Gal. 3:1-5). "Stand fast" he adjures them.
The old ways of man die hard. Even
though a Christian
is free from the law and the law is to be abandoned (Gal. 3:24), the
remains in him to devise codes and laws beyond the clear
of the Scriptures for others to follow. This tendency to
another's actions (or lack of them) by one's own subjective standards
imply holiness is obtained in the keeping of them is the manifestation
of what we call "legalism." Legalists love to be an "authority" or
It has been said "a legalist is
who is just a little to the right (that is ideologically) of you," and
from a strictly personal perspective this may be true. An Episcopalian
may call some Presbyterians "legalists" (or pharisaical); in turn the
may call some Baptists "legalists"; and some Baptists may call even
groups "legalists." But where is the line? What must a person
say or do to become a true legalist or a Pharisee from a biblical
How far can a believer go insisting on "standards" or "convictions"
he infringes on another Christian's liberty? This relevant and
topic will be the subject of the following.
Before we go on we need to define
and explain our
terms. Many Fundamentalists when confronted with the term "legalism"
(or "legalist") quickly insist it only applies to lost people who seek
salvation by works of the law. Though it can mean this, "legalism" is not
limited to this narrow definition as any dictionary can attest. A
common and accepted term among Bible believers for groups that teach
by works is "cult" instead of legalist. The Jehovah's
Christian Scientists, Mormons, and other groups who teach salvation by
works are routinely known as "a cult."
Merriam Webster's Collegiate
Edition defines "legalism" as, "strict, literal, or excessive
to the law or to a religious moral code." Nearly all other
define it much the same (some do add as a second definition, "the
of salvation by good works").
By the above definition it is
for us to use the term "legalism" (or "legalist") in this article as, "conformity
to arbitrary moral codes, rules, or laws to remain in God's will,
or blessing after one receives Christ." In other words a believer
other believers must follow his or his group's subjective standards
they can live a life pleasing to God is a "legalist." They insist
must follow their "legal" code of behavior to remain in God's will.
We are not saying by this that a
again, "Fundamentalist" who believes in salvation by grace but preaches
conformity to his arbitrary "standards" to remain in God's will is a
to the extent Jehovah's Witness or other cultists are, but only that
compelled conformity to "laws," rules, or codes to remain in God's
beyond the clear teaching of the Scriptures makes him a "legalist." He
simply teaches or implies his own rules and regulations are
and others must adhere to them to be "godly." They could be called
Legalists" since they are believers.
A "Pharisee" (or "pharisaical
in this article refers to someone who, whether publicly or privately,
the negative or ungodly characteristics of the Pharisees as described
the Scriptures. Typically a Pharisee is someone who is more
with the outward "image" or the appearance they portray rather than
godliness and consecration of the heart. Christ characterized them
as "hypocrites." Unfortunately, many of the traits of the
have endured the centuries and are quite obvious among many believers
When we speak of "liberty"
liberty," we are referring to the liberty or freedom every true
inherently has by being in Christ. "Liberty" is commonly defined as, "freedom
or release from slavery, imprisonment, captivity, or any other form of
arbitrary control." "Christian liberty" refers to a Christian's
release and separation from sin, death (ultimately), hell, Satan, and
curse of the law by the redemption of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ
has freed use FROM the things that previously bound use, not
IN them so we can continue to sin. Freedom FROM sin should not
twisted to mean freedom TO sin. Though with his liberty a believer can
choose what he will do, unless he chooses within the realm of truth
and righteousness, he places himself back into a form of bondage. True
freedom is only found when one willingly places himself in subjection
Since man's creation it has been
his nature to
seek what he perceives to be freedom. Eve, thinking her and
were in bondage by not having a "knowledge of good and evil," exercised
their "choice" and ate of the forbidden tree. The Serpent
the tree as the source of freedom from their restraints but in fact it
was the source of their ultimate bondage. By exercising their freewill,
but in the process disobeying God, they became joined to sin and death
and placed themselves under the subjection of the Serpent.
having a freewill and the ability to choose is not the same as being
Adam's choices became greatly restricted once he disobeyed. To
be free one must have a source of liberty (God) and exercise their
within the parameters of that liberty (God's word and will). It has
often been said, "with freedom comes responsibility."
Since the fall of Adam, however, an
ugly side has
been manifested in man's quest for freedom, in pursuing their own
many attempt (and often succeed) to steal it from others. Cain took
his brother Abel's life thinking that would free him from the reproach
of Abel's righteous life, but he was mistaken. Cain was marked for
for seeking his freedom at the expense of another or seeking it
the wrong source. Joseph's brethren, wanting to free themselves from
presence and influence, stole Joseph's freedom by selling him into
However, while in bondage and even in prison, Joseph was more free in
heart than his brethren who were bound by the guilt of selling him. True
liberty is more an attitude than a physical reality.
Human history is filled with
accounts of individuals
and groups of people stealing liberty from others. From physical
(such as slavery) to "intellectual bondage" (Catholics who deny their
access to the Scriptures, etc.), many feel it is their "duty" to
(for their "best interest," of course) the freedom of others. This
is the very reason liberty is to be jealously guarded. In Galatians 5:1
Paul says, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ
made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Paul wrote the book of Galatians to
the Galatians the preciousness of the liberty they have in Christ.
was a group of Jews ("well meaning," of course) who were insisting the
Galatians must keep the law to become and remain a Christian. Paul
six chapters explaining to them how they are free in Christ and
be perfected by the bondage of the Mosaic Law. He told them they
for so readily giving up the liberty they have in Christ and "not
the truth" (Gal. 3:1). Their "well meaning" Jewish "friends" were
fact "false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to
out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us
into bondage" (Gal. 2:4).
The Pharisees are the most
of bondage found in the Bible. Christ said of them, "For they bind
burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but
they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers" (Matt
23:4). They developed legalistic, man-made traditions such as
hand washings and tithing of flower seeds which placed great burdens on
the gullible and impressionable public. Christ held these
hypocrites in the utmost contempt. He directed towards them some of
the most scathing words in the Scriptures. As we said many of
traits of the Pharisees can be found among professing believers today,
and the legalism of those who promote them is what we are going to
on in the remainder of this article.
If modern terminology was used
during the first
century, the Pharisees could have easily been considered "Bible
Fundamentalists." They had the right "Bible," believed their
was the very word of God and took it literally, spent countless hours
and studying it, believed the promise of the coming Messiah, believed
angels and the spirit world, and held to every other fundamental
found in their Scriptures. To the Jewish public they were devout,
godly, and "orthodox," each a model or example for the common believer.
Ironically, when the God they claimed to serve came to them in person
didn't recognize Him, and in less than four years they were so opposed
to Him they directly caused His death! Their "godly" and "devout"
did not reflect the truth.
Even though they had a reputation
extremely consecrated and devout, Christ reserved for them His most
searing remarks and criticism. He sternly and publicly rebuked
for their pious attitude and hypocritical behavior while He
kindness, grace, and compassion towards those who were publicly branded
as "sinners." Where did the Pharisees go wrong? They had the right
God, Bible, heritage, and "doctrines," but what power or influence
them astray? What caused them to be so harshly castigated by their
The answer, of course, can only be
found in the
Scriptures. The Pharisee's besetting sin was a vice that originated
before man came on the scene, that is, PRIDE. Pride and envy
27:4) are probably the most consuming and destructive vices one can
Their first victim was not even a man but no less than the anointed
cherub Lucifer, "son of the morning" (Isa. 14:12)! Lucifer's new
pride blinded him to the point that he thought he could be like "the
most high" (Isa. 14:14). His five "I will[s]" found in
chapter 14 expose Lucifer's pride and arrogance for all creation to
Apparently, the Lord revealed these heavenly events in his word so man
could read and learn of pride's destructive power (Pro. 16:18). From
cherub to human, all who allow it to thrive ultimately suffer.
Every person is susceptible to
pride. Since the
fall there is an inherent desire in man to exalt himself or make
appear better than he really is. That pride is always present,
does not mean a believer must let it have its way. All true Christians
have a new nature (actually Christ's own righteous nature) that is NOT
susceptible to pride, and when they follow it pride is not in the
But believers also still have the old Adamic nature they were born with
and pride is very much at home with this "old man," and
this nature is followed, pride is always manifested in some form.
Nearly every sin a person can
commit has its roots
in pride. If one lies it's because pride is afraid of the truth;
if one steals it's because pride wants something; if one curses
it's because pride says "I can say what I want"; if one exalts
it's because pride loves the attention; if one is a religious
it's because pride wants to appear "godly." For all practical
the terms "pride" and "self" are interchangeable. It has often
said "self-preservation" is the strongest human trait and man will
to nearly any means to protect himself. Likewise, when one is
his reputation or "image" before others, pride will resort to desperate
measures to keep his bloated ego from embarrassment.
Of A Legalistic Pharisee
The traits or marks of a "Pharisee"
did not originate
with the Pharisees, it is just these characteristics are most clearly
in the Bible's account of the Pharisee's behavior. As we said these
tendencies which are fueled by pride are native in every human.
Some, unfortunately, practice little restraint and these tendencies are
often allowed to surface. Though the natural man is nothing but vain
and bloated ego, it seems sometimes pride and conceit are most
manifested by those who profess Christ.
The most proud, self-righteous,
people your author has ever met have been professing Christians.
Christians are so dogmatic in their subjective "standards" and
that they, like the Pharisees, actually believe they are doing God
by compelling their "biblical" convictions on others. They are
by their conceit. Below we will list some of the most enduring traits
the Pharisees and detail how these legalistic tendencies are manifested
among today's "Bible believing Christians."
The traits and characteristics
outlined below detail
many aspects of legalistic, pharisaical behavior. We are not saying
certain groups or sects of believers or even certain individuals
ALL of these traits, only that ALL believers manifest some of these
traits to various degrees at some times in their life.
act as if they essentially have a monopoly on God's word, the knowledge
of God's will, sound doctrine, and truth.
In other words, any church, school,
preacher, "scholar," or any other person who believes, says, or
one must come to them only to find what God has said (to "interpret"
Bible), what God desires for their lives, or for truth is pharisaical
The 1st century Scribes and
this theological arrogance often. In John 9 they ridiculed and mocked
blind man who was healed by Christ by saying, "Thou art his
but we are Moses' disciples," and "Thou wast altogether born in
sins, and doest thou teach us?" (vs 28, 33) as if no one could have
truth but them. Some of them smugly said of Christ, "This man is
of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day," so even their
was not included in their legalistic monopoly.
Of course, all of the present day
Witnesses, Mormons, Catholics, etc.) claim to be God's only true
and insist all not joined with them are "without hope and without
but many saved "Fundamentalist Pharisees" share a similar
Some Fundamental Baptists will allow someone to be saved who is not a
of their church but will not allow them to be in the "body of
or "Christ's bride" ("Baptist Briders"). We cannot delve into a
on this subject in this article, but these Baptists believe they and
they alone are the "Body of Christ." All other "churches" including
other Baptists are considered "alien."
Other Fundamentalists will allow
people in other
"churches" to be saved and in the "Body of Christ" but insist they must
follow certain arbitrary guidelines concerning dress, behavior,
etc., before they can be in God's will. We will discuss these
in following topics; we mention it here to show how these requirements
are a theological monopoly.
are often "hyper-seperationists" in their attitude toward others.
Since Pharisees believe they are
"God's true people," they
feel they must separate from all others who don't follow their "truth."
True, Christians are to separate from the world, ungodliness,
heresy, and carnal believers, but these "sects" essentially refuse
fellowship from all other believers simply because they don't go to
"type" of Fundamentalist church, keep their subjective "rules" and
"laws," or idolize their favorite preachers.
A few years ago your author and his
attending a church that he suspected was overly separative and
and soon his suspicions were proved true. The pastor would routinely
other Fundamentalists "without the camp" as if they were second or
class Christians (if Christians at all). He constantly tried to
his "convictions" on his people about movies, television, even
dress, and other things (which we concede can be used for evil, but
the devices themselves are not evil) and strongly implied if others
live like he (claims) to live they couldn't be in God's will and
God won't use them. He devoutly followed the camp meeting crowd out of
Resaca, Georgia and barely tolerated the mention of any preacher or
church that was not in this "clique."
The pastor apparently sensed we
were not easily
manipulated and we held no undue esteem for his favorite preachers or
and he appeared to only tolerate our presence. He made no attempt
visit us and inquire as to our intentions, he never talked
us about joining his church, and never checked on us
we missed a service. He finally did visit us (a couple months later)
we shamed him into it by saying we have been expecting him to come
but he would not talk of anything of substance.
I gave him a copy of my book on
marriage and divorce (From
Marriage To Remarriage), fully knowing he believed differently
about it, and sincerely asked him to write a paper detailing from
what was unscriptural about it. He said he would but evidently didn't
it was worth his time because he never responded or proved my "errors."
I am so wrong why doesn't he show me my errors, especially after I
him? This behavior gave me the impression that he thinks his (and
crowd's) position is not to be questioned; he is right, that's
he was taught, and that's that. Actually I think he read the book but
"Scripturally" refute it. He had his "arguments" against it but no
and he knew I required Scripture. These people are so "holy" and
that they have in some ways separated themselves from God and the
smugly denounce and ridicule believers who do not believe exactly as
do or belong to their "church;" they harbor a superior, condescending
toward others (John 9:34).
Your author has heard legalistic
of Christians who leave their church and go to another Fundamentalist
as being "outside wallowing in the mire." They imply these
have "backslidden" and even question their salvation simply because they
don't go to "God's (their) church." This attitude comes from
a pharisaical conceit and arrogance these people entertain, they
believe all truth and godliness centers around them.
Nearly all who believe they are
"God's true church"
harbor a superior, condescending attitude to some degree. Your
has meet some pastors (and especially their wives) who are quite
in their manner. They often act haughty and superior, refuse to
talk down to others, harbor a condescending attitude, etc. They act
as if those who don't follow them (or adore them) are beneath them.
are they other than redeemed, hell deserving "dogs" like the rest
us Christians? What leads them to think they are an elite class of
superior believers? PRIDE, people. Nothing but pure,
pride. They think since they wear the "right clothes," go to
"right places," associate with the "right people," go to the "right
etc., they are special and favored by God. Although some of the
seem to manifest these vain characteristics more than others, we
ALL susceptible to it, Christian. BEWARE!
have an outward show of "humility" and "consecration" while inwardly
are proud and self-righteous.
The Lord's most used descriptive
term for the Pharisees
was "hypocrites." He publicly branded them as outwardly
sepulchers" but filled with "hypocrisy and iniquity."
is a natural offspring of pride. Pride wants a person to look good and
be "well respected" regardless of the truth and will devise all
of schemes and plans to make this happen. To pride "image is
and Christians and preachers are by no means immune.
We need not mention all the
nationally known "preachers"
who "fell" once a scandal broke about them. They portrayed themselves
holy Christians others should emulate, but were actually living a
before the public. What about all those living lies that have not
been exposed? Sometimes it appears everybody is a hypocrite. There are
preachers who preach holiness and godliness yet secretly lust after
women and view pornography. There are married Christian "ladies" who in
church "dress modestly and conservatively" but in public are
and little more than harlots. There are unmarried Christian young
who never miss a service and are well respected in church yet in secret
they are engaged to one fellow and are "sleeping with" another.
It is often a rude awakening for a new Christian, who is trying his
to live for God and do right, to find out that many of the people he
and goes to church with are two-faced, lying hypocrites. For
reason we all must keep our eyes on Christ.
Remember the pastor above who
having a television? He makes big boasts about not having a television
yet we heard him with our own ears talking to a television advertiser
his small business on local television. He was especially
in an "NFL football package"! I guess it's all right to advertise on
financially supporting!) television along with beer companies and "wine
coolers" as long as he doesn't have a television in his home! I
fail to see how a "pastor" who is supposed to be "blameless"
justify such an inconsistency. Are not pastors supposed to be a Christian
and a preacher before being a businessman?
We know of another preacher who
bragged about being
so consecrated that he wouldn't have a "sinful" television in his home,
but whenever there was something on he wanted to watch he would go
his sister's and watch it on her TV! Hypocrites are everywhere, and
if you'll look in the mirror you will find one more! Hypocrisy
something we all must constantly guard against.
I know several lost people who are
and genuine than most Christians. I have lost relatives who cuss and
and make no claim to Christianity but they are consistent. They
don't have a "phony" bone in their body. They act the same before
whether it be preacher or pauper and put on no "airs." And sad to say
a person really needed help they would be more likely to unselfishly
someone more than a lot of church-going Christians. Lost people are
they are not blind to hypocrisy and nothing alienates them much
than hypocrisy among church attendees. Many times when out visiting
the issue of hypocrites in the church is brought up. All one can do
is point them to Christ and show how He loves them and died for
and how His offer of salvation is genuine. You will very rarely gain
by defending a brother a lost person thinks is a hypocrite (he usually
is!). Point them to Christ.
desire the praise of men; they desire to be honored among themselves
held in high esteem by the public.
Pride loves praise. Often
when one goes
to a "camp-meeting" or "preacher convention" he hears enough
praising each other to last a lifetime. Usually the host pastor
introducing the "keynote speaker" will praise him to "high-heaven" as
he is the thirteenth apostle. And in turn the guest preacher will
the pastor. It's enough to make one sick.
One word that is commonly heard
conferences is "doctor." If one didn't know better he would
there are more "doctors" in some of these conferences than there are in
a hospital!. Have you ever looked through a "Sword of the Lord" or
Christian paper at the "lineup" at one of the larger meetings? They are
all addressed as "doctor." But you know what's really interesting
this, most of them aren't doctors at all. They hold what's
as an "honorary doctorate" which is nothing more than a piece
paper. (For a more detailed examination of the "honorary doctorate" see
our article "Are All Doctors Really Doctors?")
In their eyes the highest form of
praise one preacher
can give another is the esteemed title of "doctor" so many Christian
and universities have "granted" a "doctorate" to their favorite
as an honor. However, instead of treating the doctorate as an honor,
preachers actually treat it as if it were earned! They call
"doctor," sign their names "doctor," encourage others to call them
and even monogram "Dr." on their clothes. Why do otherwise sound
sensible preachers engage in such deceptive behavior? "And [they]
in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi [Doctor,
(Matt. 23:6-8). Pride and envy can cause the best of men to succumb to
"Wrath is cruel, and anger is
who is able to stand before envy?" (Pro. 27:4)
teach their man-made traditions as God's eternal laws.
Though most present day
will concede doctrinally that a person is saved and KEPT by grace,
practice indicates otherwise. Pharisees always have arbitrary standards
they essentially compel others to keep before they will acknowledge
a person may be saved.
To many divorce and/or remarriage
is in essence
an "unpardonable sin." Even if they allow a divorced Christian to be
in their eyes, they still treat them as a lower class of believer.
No divorced person ever will be able to live up to the "holy" standards
of the Pharisee, nor will the Pharisees allow them any type of
We have covered this matter in much detail in our book, From
Marriage To Remarriage.
Some insist if a woman (or man)
doesn't dress in
a certain way then her salvation is in question. Some will go
far as saying she definitely is NOT saved in spite of what she
They self-righteously feel their standard on dress is God's standard.
legalistic attitude is manifested in many ways.
If one does not dress in a manner
that is acceptable
to the Pharisees "righteous standard," they will treat the poor person
as if they are a little more than a leper. Some are so righteousness
not allow an "improperly dressed" person (Christian or not) in their
to worship the Lord. In many of their churches one can even find signs
that state "Women wearing slacks or a "pantsuit" are not permitted
the sanctuary!" These Pharisees are much too holy to allow someone
with such "low standards" or morals near them. They must ban them from
their presence. This is one of the most blatant manifestations of
and legalism one can imagine. Believers who will deny a fellow
or a person seeking salvation entrance into (supposedly) God's house
God's (perceived) presence because of their arbitrary standards. It is
not a question of decency but of opinion. If the hearts and secrets
of some of those who insist on such outward "rules" were revealed, they
would be seen for what they really are: lying, two-faced, hypocrites.
All the Bible really says about
dress in the New
Testament can be boiled down to one word, "modest" (1 Tim. 2:9).
Every Christian should dress and behave modestly, that is in a
manner that does not draw attention to oneself. In many instances
slacks can be more modest than some dresses. But we understand,
the issue is not modesty or simple decency, but conformation to a
humanistic standard contrived by modern day Pharisees. We know
the verses they use to justify their position, but just like any
the "law" is more important than the person. Christ said, however, "The
sabbath (law) was made for man, and not man for the sabbath (law)"
The Pharisees and their wives take
in their "scriptural dress" and godly manner, but they are blind to the
fact they often violate the simple modesty principle. How
you have seen men and women wear clothes that were "technically
(long enough, high enough, etc.), but anything but modest.
flashy dresses; thick, chalky makeup; big, bouncy hair, bold, obvious
etc., that are beyond the average attire of those around them or on the
cutting edge of "fashion," is not modesty. Modesty does not draw
to itself in any manner, but these people lust after attention.
seek to live off the charity of others, and believe it is the duty of
to support them.
It's sad to say but among
are some of the biggest "leeches" in society. Sometimes I think
the old "preacher joke," "The reason I became a preacher is I don't
like to work," is more true than not. To some pastors and preachers
the thought of an outside job to help support themselves and their
is an abomination. They insist it is the duty of their congregation,
the government, or anyone else to support them, and they have their
"proof texts" to back them up. Granted, the Bible says believers are to
support those who teach them, and most believers have little problem
this. The problem arises when a pastor of a new or small church expects
others to sacrifice more than the pastor is willing to. This
can hinder the pastor's work greatly because most people must work for
their income and expect their pastor to work in some form also.
I know of missionaries who expect
support to be considerably greater than that of the majority of
and probably greater than 95% of the people in the area of their
field. A missionary came to a rural town here in West Virginia to start
a church and required well above average monthly support claiming he
it so he could build his church "full time" without having to work.
he got his support he then moved to the area and established a church
a building, but hardly no one came. That was over five years ago and as
far as I know he still just preaches to his family. He may have
the best intentions and be sincere in his mission, but people in his
of Appalachia are skeptical, independent, and have little use for a
preacher that won't become "one of them." Preachers and
with the best of intentions cannot expect people to listen to and
them if they claim special privileges or act "allergic to work."
Even though the apostle Paul stated
he has "power"
to "forbear working" and could "live of the gospel" (1 Cor.
14), for his testimony's sake he didn't exercise this power and
at a public job. Unlike many today Paul believed his testimony
more important than his "rights" (1 Cor. 9:12), even rights God has
It is unfortunate that many who wish to emulate Paul won't follow him
this area. They act as if common work is beneath them ("If I don't get
more support, I might have to resort to work!"), and sometimes
other like-minded preacher friends in to make his congregation feel
("You should be ashamed for not supporting your [lazy] pastor"). Other
preachers act as if their church members belongings are their
at will. Being compulsive borrowers, borrowing anything from
to pencils (only sometimes returning them), they take their
for granted and thus damage their testimony.
Some preachers have been known to
go into a Christian's
place of business and embarrass the brother by asking him to give him
(clothing, food, appliances, etc.). This places the owner in an
situation, he's wanting to do right but feels he is being taken
of. Those who use God's name and word as an excuse for laziness
be little respected by their brethren and in their community.
Some evangelists driving in very
having the best of clothes for himself and his family (much better than
most Christians), boasting about having "four-wheelers," boats, a
cottage, etc., and taking lengthy trips overseas are so caught up in
lifestyle they actually believe this "lifestyle" is normal for "someone
in God's will." They behave more like "prosperity gospel"
than Bible believing Fundamentalists. They imply prosperity is a sign
God's blessing, and if you want to get in on it you can began by
them! Of course, they have a lifestyle to maintain.
It is not that Christians are
refuse to support God's work, on the contrary Christians are
very generous, it's they do not like to support laziness in
anyone. The reason some preachers don't get the support they want is
are notoriously lazy and slothful. Many preachers are even too
lazy to study. From listening to some preachers a few times one
learns they only have a handful of original messages and just
of them. Unfortunately, one could listen to one of these preachers five
or six times and hear virtually everything of substance he has to
the rest is just "filler." Mature, seasoned believers soon
this laziness and are not eager to support it. On the other hand, a
who is industrious and doesn't neglect study but regularly delivers
original messages will often receive adequate or even abundant
without ever asking for it.
idolize certain leaders of their group.
One doesn't have to be a Christian
very long before
he realizes there are certain "patriarchs" (some call them "Protestant
Popes") that rule in their little corner of Fundamentalism. To
a man who is following Christ is a Biblical practice, but to idolize
like some of these preachers are idolized is obviously not Scriptural.
These "big boys" usually attained their status by appearing to do a
work for God, whether building a large ministry, being an accepted
being a "gifted" speaker, having a "charismatic" personality, being a
"militant Fundamentalist", etc., they are placed by their peers in the
limelight of Christendom.
We are not mentioning this to
make light of
or demean the work of these men, many of them have been used of God
to win souls and exalt Christ. However, pride loves "good press" and ego
delights in being exalted and esteemed by others, so it is very
for any believer to allow and even encourage others to think more of
than they should. The self-indulgence of allowing excessive praise
of one's self will always lead to the person beginning to believe it.
and praise are never satisfied and feed on themselves. These men name
ministries after themselves, churches after themselves, schools after
Bibles after themselves, etc. as if their names convey some sort of
They love the recognition. They will even allow others to name churches
after them ("Hyles" Baptist Church!). I wonder if Paul, John, or even
would have allowed such practices?
It is beneficial for one to have a
sort of spiritual
mentor: someone who is more spiritual than yourself to look up to
advice and guidance, but one must always remember, this person no
how spiritual, godly, or accomplished he is, he is just a man (or
is to be followed ONLY as he follows Christ. To esteem him too
is destructive for both parties. It gives occasion to the
(of the mentor) to glory in itself, and it also causes the less mature
to have too much confidence in a mere man. It is good to "look up" to
who help one in his Christian life as long as he always looks beyond
to the Lord Jesus Christ at the same time.
"say and do not" or don't "practice what they preach."
Saying one thing and doing another
is the most
obvious form of hypocrisy. The Pharisees of old would place great
on people claiming the trial would make them more "godly" or
like they claimed to be. However, in truth they would not consider
such a load themselves. As long as they had the appearance of
"spiritual," pius, devout, etc., that was all that concerned them.
Today's hypocritical Pharisees may
not be as obvious
in their hypocrisy, but the hypocrisy is still there. Believer it or
some preachers will preach things they themselves have no intention
of following (to some of you this may be a shock to learn, but to
who have been around Fundamentalist preachers for a while, this is
knowledge). Some essentially command their people to "tithe" yet they
don't tithe themselves. Some "respected" evangelists will preach
and heavy on "proper dress for Christian women," but their own wife
daughters dress like harlots away from church. Others may
it is "wrong" to gamble but they secretly buy lottery tickets
wonder what they would do if they won? Their "sin" would be exposed! Of
course, they would justify it as "God's will"). Still others may rave
rant against television but they want to gain income from it through
The list is nearly endless.
I once heard a preacher say, "Do as
I say, not
as I do," and I thought "If you don't do it, buddy, why should
else. People like this are little esteemed and little followed
someone wanting to follow the truth. As another has said, "It is
how easy it is for a legalist to identify wrong behavior in the lives
ministries of others while he ignores or excuses the same behavior in
restrain others from having or seeking true godliness.
Pharisees will often "counsel" a
by saying something like, "You are now full of zeal and like to shout
rejoice but these "emotionalisms" will diminish as you become more
That is, the Pharisees don't want to be "showed up" by someone
thirsts for truth, knowledge, and God more than they do or openly
their love of the Lord, so they "encourage" them to act more "dignified
and restrained." Pharisees can't stand for someone else to have the
preeminence. They turn green with envy.
On the other hand some preachers
try to shame
or force Christians into emotional outbursts or shouting by saying
things like, "You might as well shout here because we will all be
in heaven," "When the Lord saves you He puts a shout on your lips, if
don't want to shout you had better check and see if what you have
real," etc., but they apparently don't realize that if they get
to shout by making them feel guilty, the shout is not real. If it is
from the heart and unto the Lord, it is hypocrisy. I am not against
or rejoicing, by no means, but it must come forth freely as unto
Lord, not drawn out by coercion. I'm afraid, however, from what I
observed in some churches, shouting is to some Baptists what "tongues"
are for Charismatics, a means to get attention.
refuse to even consider any doctrine or biblical reasoning that doesn't
conform to their position despite all indications to the contrary.
Truth, reason and sound Bible
reasoning have little
or no effect on a "dyed-in-the-wool" Pharisee. We get emails from
kinds of "believers" because of our web site. Many are critical of
KJB and attack our stand, others want to "correct" us concerning
we wrote in one of our articles, some want to ask us a question, and
just want to "pick a fight" and argue.
I once got an email from a fellow
our position that a believer is secure in Christ and cannot loose his
is wrong and he sent me some links to "the truth." I checked his links,
they contained the same old Arminian rhetoric I have heard for
I wrote him back and in the course of the letter mentioned there were
found in the Bible until Acts 11:26. Well, he took issue with this
and wrote back telling me how I was wrong and insisted there were
before Acts 11. He said the terms "Christian" and "disciple" were
and even though the term "Christian" wasn't used, all disciples were
This fellow just wanted to argue,
facts that can
easily be checked only got in his way. An eight year old could
the truth in minutes with only a Bible and concordance. The simple fact
is the first mention of the term "Christian" is in Acts 11:26. This is
not to say there were not saved people before then, only that there
no believers called Christians before then. The Holy Spirit waited
the new birth was fully established on the day of Pentecost, after the
conversion of Saul (the apostle to the Gentiles) and after
conversion of Corneilus (the first Gentile convert) before He
this designation of believers to come about. This fellow assumes every
saved person in any age is a "born again Christian" but the Bible
doesn't support him (See our work, The
Is In The Dispensations).
As for the terms "Christian"
being synonymous, I wrote the guy back and said if his contention was
then "the Pharisees must have been "Moses's Christians" as well
as "Moses's disciples" (John 9:28), and John's disciples must have been
"Christians" before they ever heard of Christ (Acts 19:1-7)."
Bible has a way of correcting bigots and those who adhere to assumed
but a Pharisee will not receive correction, not even from the Bible. [I
also asked this fellow if he ever sinned and lost his salvation since
believed any sin would cost one his salvation, of course, he refused to
answer. They never do. I have yet to have someone who believes a born
Christian can loose their salvation admit they have ever sinned and
theirs. "Scribes, Pharisees, Hypocrites."]
act as if they are "favored" by God" and are allowed more liberties
the "average Christian."
They feel they are not subject
to Biblical commands
and guidelines that "common Christians" are subject to. Some
are bad about this, they act (although they will never openly admit it)
because they are a preacher or pastor that they are superior to the
"laity" and the Lord will allow them certain liberties (sins) He won't
tolerate in others. They will preach against some vice from the
to the common believer, but behave as if they are immune from the vice
because of their "godly position." How arrogant of them to take credit
of the grace of God, thinking their lack of chastening from God is a
Some of the biggest
gossips I have
ever encountered in my life have been preachers. I have heard
preachers talking among themselves about other preachers and Christians
something pitiful. They will spread rumors, add comments to the
make "off-color" comments about others, laugh and joke about another's
unfortunate situation, etc., as if it's acceptable preacher
They act little different than a group of men at a poker game or bar.
only real difference is the preachers (usually) don't swear or "drink"
(at least not in church).
"Preacher gossip" is a very real
Unfortunately, the majority of preachers I have encountered engage in
to some extent (a few truly godly preachers don't, and they are to be
They get in their little groups of two or more or on the phone and
gossip. "Did you hear about what happened to brother So-and-so?" "No,
happened?" "I heard his wife..." and on it goes. I have heard
refer to their conversations as "Preacher gossip." They apparently
just don't feel their "gossip" is really gossip because they are
preachers." They feel they are an elite class of Christian.
I personally know of preachers who can't
but repeat things told them in confidence. It seems they are
to tell secrets, sometimes destroying people and ministries.
of the biggest mistakes I ever made as a Christian was confiding in my
"pastor" at the time. I told him some things that were somewhat
in nature and insisted I did not want them repeated (it was nothing
about myself only some personal matters that could be misunderstood)
he promised me, "What you told me today, brother, will not leave this
Well, he must have called someone in the room and told them because
a few days it was the prevailing gossip in the church. As with
all rumors this gossip that was going around little resembled the
I told him, and added to it was pure fabrications which made me
and my wife out to be "scoundrels." I traced the gossip backwards and
out he had told his family, including his daughters, who I now know are
When I confronted the pastor about
this matter he
would admit to nothing. He would not admit he told his daughters,
would not admit they repeated anything or were inventing stories, nor
he even try to deal with the matter. This whole matter was a bitter
pill to swallow for me, and I felt betrayed. I actually trusted the
but, as they say, "live and learn." Because of the rumors and
the atmosphere they created, my wife and I were essentially forced to
the church. I had attended there for 11 years (several years longer
this pastor had been there). After we left and other members asked him
why we left he more or less said, "I have no idea" and then proceeded
imply the reason was likely another person in the church to take
off of him and his family. Today that church is only a shadow of what
once was, many other long-term members have left for similar reasons.
Nevertheless, the "pastor"
apparently felt no guilt
or remorse for his actions. After some reflection on the matter and
to other members I realized the man was only a figurehead
he more or less did what he was told by the female members of
family. For him to admit any wrong on the part of his "girls" would make
his life miserable at home and destroy the image he promotes of
and his family. So he sacrificed us and other faithful church members to
protect himself and his reputation. I'm sure, however, he has
himself that he has done the best he could with the situation, and the
Lord must approve since He still allows him to "preach" and is still
How vain and shallow we humans are,
it's a wonder
the Lord doesn't consume us all in our conceit and vanity!
There are a few more "holy" vices
found among believers
like lying (for the glory of God, of course), swearing
preachers than you realize "cuss" or swear), gambling (oh, yes)
and even worse things. They have justified these actions in their minds
reasoning, if they are not the "perfect will" of God, they are at least
"acceptable" in his sight because they are His "chosen vessels."
They seem to reason since God hasn't stricken them with some calamity
must be approved, but this is faulty, humanistic reasoning. God has
his will clear with His word; any deviation from it will have
Contrary to what a legalistic
Pharisee would have
you believe, they are not the only conduit of truth, nor are they the
authority on Christian behavior. Only the Scriptures are (KJB). I have
heard preachers "milk" passages (like Deut. 22:5) and twist them
to "prove" their personal preference on "hair," "dress," "cards," "TV,"
"church attendance," "tithing," and a multitude of other subjects. If
people want to follow their own preferences on these matters
fine; but when they try to force them on others and insist their
are the Bible standards, they cross the line into legalism.
C. I. Scofield aptly said, "The
church has no
authority to decide questions of personal liberty in things not
forbidden in Scripture." It couldn't be said any plainer. If the
as body has no authority over a believer's personal liberty where the
is silent or not specific, how much less a group or individual? Those
think otherwise are deceived. "So then every one of us shall
account of HIMSELF to God" (Rom. 14:12).
above two chapters,
with all our "negativeness," the reader may think we have a "sour"
on many Christians, preachers, or on Christianity in general, but that
is not the case. We only have a sour outlook on selfish human
are convinced the primary detriment to spirit-filled, godly living
Christians is not Satan but conceited, vile human nature (the "old
given place in a believer's heart. A Christian that lives after
the Spirit, however, will put to death the old man and not
like a Pharisee or live as a hypocrite. Furthermore, he will not
unduly judge his brother or become a "stumblingblock" in his way (Rom.
14:13). In fact, a truly Spirit-filled believer will willingly relinquish
his personal liberties and give up his freedoms for the benefit of
believers is not intended to be used as a means for self gratification
or personal excess. Neither is it to be used as "stumblingblock" to
The same Paul who said, ""Stand fast therefore in the liberty
Christ hath made us free..." (Gal. 5:1), also said, "For
though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto
Cor. 9:19) . The difference between the statements is in
Paul is dealing with the sufficiency of salvation in Christ alone apart
from the bondage of works or the law, but in Corinthians he is speaking
of a believers attitude and relationship with other believers. A
should never concede or "give an inch" to those who contend
is an element of works or "law-keeping" necessary for one to be
saved or remain saved. When it comes to the sufficiency of Christ's
on the cross, and that work alone, to secure a believers salvation for
all eternity ("It is FINISHED"), every believer should "stand fast"
for the truth; but when dealing with matters of personal
every believer should be willing to concede his "rights".
"Days," and More
times the issue of a Christian eating "meats" offered to idols
a "hot" issue. Believers that were "strong" in faith (Rom. 15:1)
an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but
Cor. 8:4) and that meats offered to them were in no way tainted or
They could eat the meats with a clear conscience. However, there were
believers who for one reason or another could not eat the "meats" with
a clear conscience. They were truly Christians like their "strong"
but their conscience was "weak" and would not allow them to eat the
meats without feeling "defiled" (1 Cor. 8:7). What does Paul
do? Does he rebuke and berate the "weak" and tell them to "be strong"
go ahead and eat the meat, defiling themselves in their own eyes? Not
all. Instead he encourages the "strong" to "bear the infirmities of
the weak and not to please [themselves]" (Rom. 15:1).
to do" when a believer's liberty infringes on another believer's
is for the strong to sacrifice their liberty for the sake of
brother. This is what Christ did. He did not have to die on the
and suffer all He did. He is the God of heaven. He willingly
Himself and became a man for the sake of man because man was weak
had a great need (Phil. 2:6-8). So likewise should His followers do the
same. If one truly loves his brother (as he is commanded to), he
avoid doing anything that would harm him. He would gladly give up
anything that is rightfully his if it in some way would cause his
to stumble as a Christian. Paul insists it is only right for a believer
who eats meats offered to idols to abstain from eating them if it hurts
another (Rom. 14:1-23; 1 Cor. 8:1-13, 9:19-22). And if one insists on
"right" to eat his meats, ignoring the weakness of his brother, he sins
against Christ (1 Cor. 8:12). "Wherefore, if meat make my
brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I
make my brother to offend" (1 Cor 8:13).
only one example
of differences in the positions of believers in the New Testament.
was the keeping of "days" (Rom. 14:5-6). Apparently, some
felt certain days were holier than others (The Lords Day?) or deserved
special recognition while others esteemed every day alike. Paul, didn't
take sides, he simply said, "let every man be fully persuaded in
own mind" (Rom. 14:5). Paul had no problem with a believer
or not esteeming any certain day. He knew once a believer gets saved
is "in Christ," "days" don't matter. He also knew the "Lord's Day"
was not a "holy day" or a even replacement of the Jewish Sabbath, but
Christians today don't realize this.
the Lord's Day (Sunday) as some sort of "Christian Sabbath" (Of
course, the Bible knows nothing of a "Christian Sabbath," it only
of an Old Testament Sabbath given to Israel), but these believers treat
Sunday as if it is the Sabbath. This belief is likely a "carry over"
Catholicism and before that Judaism. Christ died nearly 2000 years ago
to free man from the law yet remnants of it still linger.
the Lord's day is NOT the Sabbath, and as surprising as it may
neither is it a "command" that Christians observe it. Christians do
give, take the "Lord's Supper," etc., on the "first day of the
but this is only by following the EXAMPLE of the Scriptures; it
is NOT a command! Some of you reading this are probably having
about now, but you will have to show us from the Bible where observance
of the Lord's Day is commanded to convince us otherwise.
Bible does say, "forsake
not the assembling of yourselves together," but it still does not
any certain day to be preferred or esteemed above another. It does not
even stipulate as to how often believers should assemble (but at
least once a week has been given as an example). Nevertheless, the
brother should not ridicule, intimidate, or browbeat the "weak" over
issue of observing "days." If some Christians hold Sunday in higher
than the other six days of the week, "let every man be fully
in his own mind" (Rom. 14:5).
"meats" and "days"
were the examples Paul used in his letters, their are many other issues
that can fall into this category. Dress, hair length, head covering
(women), foot-washing, manner of communion, movies, television, radio,
internet, etc., etc., are issues that can fit into the same
today. As we saw in the previous chapter, many preach their opinion as
Bible doctrine on these matters and will barely tolerate those who
agree. If their egos were not so bloated they would realize the Bible
not specific on any of these subjects.
of a Christian
Today, it seems, everybody wants to
stand up for
their "rights." Even though the Bible says nothing about a
in himself having "rights," many believers can be heard defending or
them. Your author has heard Fundamentalist preachers say things like,
is my right as a Christian to have an expensive home or a luxury
"It is my right to play golf all day or go on a cruise," "It is
my right to be supported by you people (Christians) and not
to work," etc. Again, they talk more like "prosperity gospel"
than "Bible believing Fundamentalists." How unlike their Savior
are. Christ had the highest "right" in the universe "being in
form of God..." but he humbled Himself and waived His rights
so He could save us. Paul, who followed Christ, waived all his "rights"
("But I have used none of these things...for it were better for me
die, than that any man should make my glorying void," 1 Cor.
even those "ordained of God" (1 Cor. 9:14). But regardless of
they say, these upholders of rights are not following either.
The essence of the "rights" a
Christian has while
in this world is a right to call God his Father, Christ his Savior,
the Holy Spirit his comforter, and the right to SUFFER for them (2
Tim. 3:12). The Bible does not "grant" believers the right to much
True, a preacher in a sense has a right to be supported by those he
but a man who will waive that right for the sake of the gospel and
testimony MORE follows the leading of Christ. It has been said the
one word that most defines the true Christian "mentality" is "Others."
Philippians 2:3 says this plainly, "...let each esteem others
than himself." This one verse blows a huge hole in the
and the "Christian rights" promoters so prevalent today. They emphasize
"self" while the Scriptures emphasize "others." It is sad to say but
that is heard from Fundamentalist pulpits today is more self-serving
rhetoric than sound Bible doctrine. Likewise, many Christians and
consider sacrificing some of their "rights" for the sake of their
or the gospel. Their behavior and attitude of excess is often the fuel
that drives those who criticize Christianity as a hypocritical,
Whether a person is a legalist,
Pharisee, or a
humble sacrificial Christian is a result of their mentality or
It stands to reason if one's attitude is derived from the wrong
he can't help but have the wrong attitude. If a preacher is
proclaiming his rights, and the Bible places no emphasis on rights (and
it doesn't), then the preacher obviously derived his attitude from
source other than the Bible. That the preacher has verses to
back up his claims is immaterial; his attitude is contrary to the
attitude found throughout the Scriptures.
The Bible is emphatic as to the
attitude a Christian
is to have. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ
states it plainly. A Christian is to have Christ's attitude. He
or she is to FOLLOW (not "imitate") their Savior in His
and behavior through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is every
"calling," "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also
for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps" (1
Pet 2:21). The "steps" of a beaten, bloody, savior; climbing a
to His death on a cross, not for Himself but for OTHERS, is not the
"steps" of a modern day Christian who demands his rights! A
who misuses the Scriptures to convince gullible believers to support
extravagant and flamboyant lifestyle does not have the "mind of
He has more the mind of "SELF."
In Galatians chapter 6 the
a believer with the "Law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2), however, this
is not so much a "law" of specific commands but of an attitude or
"mind set". The "law of Christ" does not consist of negative "thou
shalt nots" but of positive yielding of one's "members" to the Holy
Spirit (Rom. 6). When a believer "walk[s] in the Spirit" or
is "led of the Spirit," he is fulfilling the law of Christ. But
when he yields to the "flesh," he is not following the law of
and the "works of the flesh" manifest this (Gal. 5:16-21). Therefore,
law of Christ" is not a law like the Pharisees would have one think.
often say, "Christians are under a law, the law of Christ," but they assume
the "law of Christ" is negative like other laws in the Bible. The Bible
does not say one can break the "law of Christ," but it does say one
can "fulfil" it. Christians ARE commanded, however, to, "Walk
in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh"
5:16), and when they obey, they "fulfil the law of Christ."
Some of you may take issue with us
for these statements
claiming were are the very thing we oppose (legalistic), but, brethren,
the Bible is clear on the attitude and disposition a Christian
have. There are a multitude of verses that deal with the issue
4:19, 8:22; Luke 9:23; John 10:4; 1 Cor. 11:1; etc.). As we mentioned
a legalist is someone who goes beyond the teaching of the Scriptures
with their own subjective rules and laws as a means to "holiness." They
are not satisfied with the Bible's "standards" and feel they must add
them for the sake of "godliness." As another has said, "We are free to
counsel one another, and help one another, but not to legislate. It is
wrong, absolutely wrong, to do so. It becomes legality when we make
unwarranted demands upon others in an area not prohibited by Scripture."
and the "Strong"
how Paul classified
believers as "weak" and "strong" when dealing with personal liberties
limitations, but Paul was not implying that the "strong" was
to the "weak" or the weak necessarily needed to become
didn't take sides (even though he, himself held the "strong" position).
He was simply telling believers they are not to judge each other on
matters of personal liberty and limitations that the Bible is not
on. Paul very well knew the human tendency to be judgmental of others
used to be a Pharisee) and he spent considerable time adjuring others
to unduly judge. What Paul considers "weak" or "strong" about believers
is not the believer's position or standing before God but the condition
of their conscience. The "weak" had a weak conscience as to what it
would allow the person to do while the "strong" had a strong conscience.
arises when a
"weak" or "strong" believer observes his "opposite" doing something
different than he does. When a "weak" believer sees a "strong"
something his weak conscience will not allow him to do (like eating
offered to idols) he is likely to judge him for it. On the
hand, when a "strong" believer sees a "weak" abstaining from something
for "religious reasons" that the "strong's" conscience allows, he
"despise" his brother's "ignorant" behavior. These tendencies are
real and must be vigilantly guarded against by every believer.
lesson is Christians are not to judge each other in these
and if anyone must concede, of course, it is to be the "strong."
If he refuses to sacrifice his liberty for the sake of his brethren and
unity, he may be "strong" in conscience but he is weak in following
for legalism or
pharisaical behavior is simple in concept but hard for many in
In fact, nearly every spiritual fault or sin a believer may find
in has the same remedy, that is, REPENT! Once you see your
or sin for what it really is, confess it to God, repent of it (turn
from it, change your mind about it), and through the power of God and
strength of the Holy Spirit strive to overcome it. Positionally
Christians are "overcomers" by the work of Christ, but personally
every believer must avail himself of Christ's power so he can overcome
sin in his daily walk (See our work, More
Forgiven, under the heading, "Sanctification," for a
detailed look at overcoming sin). He must "yield" his "members"
to God (Rom. 6:11-16). However, before one can repent and "get right"
must first see that he is wrong, and this is the legalists
(in fact, blindness), like any other Pharisee he can't see where he
The only way anyone, saved or lost,
can see their
spiritual needs is through the word of God illuminated by the Holy
The Spirit will convict their hearts of their sin once they are
exposed to God's word, but it is up to each individual as to what they
do with the conviction. Some through the word follow the conviction to
its only satisfying answer, Christ; while sadly the majority harden
themselves against the conviction and turn away. Some Christians
yielded to the Holy Spirit and received Christ to be saved in turn harden
themselves against the wooing of the Spirit to FOLLOW
Christians will not hesitate to trust God with their "soul," but many
to trust Him with their LIFE!
To paraphrase a well known proverb,
to legalism is paved with good intentions." Most who desire to lord
it over other Christians with their brand of legalism got there (like
Pharisee) by thinking they were doing God a service. They
their "standards" are an aid to godliness and holiness and all
who seek these virtues must adhere to them. As with all true believers,
they began their Christian life with liberty, that is, freedom
the law, sin, death, and Hell, but they by their "laws" wish to restrict
the liberty of others and judge those who don't "conform." They
to "legislate" righteousness on people, but the Bible testifies true
can come only from the inside. As has been said, "The law (any law) is
like a mirror, one can look in it and see he is dirty, but he
wash himself with it," so even if the legalist's law was
following it would not make one righteous.
As we mentioned above, every
the tendency and ability to be legalistic. And we think it is safe to
every believer has at times spoken or acted toward a brother in a
or pharisaical manner. Pride and envy are enemies of us all,
we must overcome them by the power of God. If we don't then we become a
hindrance to the gospel rather than a friend. God help us all to
the sacrificial "mind of Christ" and give up our "rights" where
they hinder other people, forsaking the evil attitude of darkness. When
we do then we can truly enjoy the precious liberty we have in our
and Savior Jesus Christ! Amen!
a sermon outline dealing with legalism gleaned from the Internet. The
and author are unknown.
I. Trying To Help God—When
He Doesn't Need The
A. Legalism thinks that more rules
1. Not happy with the restrictions that are given by God, legalists
compelled to come up with new
2. It is, therefore, a primarily negative approach to religion.
3. "Don't do it," is the legalist's loudest call (Col. 2:20-23).
B. The Jews excelled in legalism
1. During the Inter-testament Period, the Jews devised the idea of
around the Torah."
2. They reasoned that Moses had surely spoken many things he did not
3. These rules just happened to be the very ones they devised to help
with His job.
4. They were called the "Oral Torah."
5. In practice, they were laws invented by men to keep people a step,
two, or three away from
breaking a law of God.
6. These laws were the very things that Jesus condemned with great
7. By His rejecting the "hedges," the religious establishment had
they concluded that Jesus was
a blasphemer (Jn. 5:8-16; 9:13-16).
8. Legalism saw the holiest man that ever lived as being unholy (Matt.
C. Consider a few of the more
that some have tried to impose on others.
1. Since many movies are not good, don't see any movies.
2. Since you can gamble with playing cards, don't use cards.
3. Since T. V. has violence and distorted sexuality in many programs,
watch T. V.
4. Since a certain amount of modern music promotes nonchristian
don't listen to
5. God originally didn't allow meat to be eaten, so we should be
6. Since we don't know what might happen if people were to meet in
homes for Bible studies,
studies must be in the church building.
7. Since drama is not an acceptable substitute for worship, there can
no drama in any setting at
8. Because some people want to change the biblical nature of the Lord's
Day assembly, even after we
have properly engaged in the commanded service, there can still be no
type of assembly on the
Lord's Day than a "church" service.
9. Since irreverence is a problem in religion, "thee" and "thou" must
used in prayer.
II. The Heart Of Legalism (Matt.
Legalism is particularly
dangerous because it uses the Bible in a certain amount of what it does
and do not do (v. 3b).
a burden rather than a joy (v. 4; 11:28-30).
purpose is to
be seen of men (vv. 5-12; 6:1-18).
III. The Practice Of Legalism
A. Legalism shuts off the kingdom
and makes disciples
that are worse off than they were before their
(vv. 13, 15).
1. Manmade religion cannot get people to heaven (Matt. 15:6-9).
2. When people are deceived into thinking legalism is correct, they are
much less apt to become
Christians than before they were deceived.
B. Legalism takes advantage of
people's fears and
insecurities to manipulate them into supporting the
1. Guilt is the chief tactic of legalism.
2. Those with tender hearts are most easily exploited.
C. Legalism plays games with the
truth (vv. 16-22).
1. Its "yes" and its "no" mean nothing (Matt. 5:37).
2. The rules do not apply to legalists, they are serving God as His
servants (Lk. 18:9-14).
D. Legalism has a distorted sense
1. Since legalists are often hypocrites, they do not have the great
of true religion enthroned
in their hearts.
2. Hence, they elevate all they have, a mere outward show.
E. Legalism is a religion of mere
1. The Lord give this one a double-dose.
2. This is the defining fault of legalism.
F. Legalism cannot see itself as it
really is (vv.
1. It is deceived into thinking that it is not like others guilty of
2. They are blind in the worst way of all (Jn. 9:39-41).