“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet."--Matthew 5:13

Thursday, April 28, 2011

According to dictionary.com, theological legalism is defined as "the judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws." Jesus accused the Pharisees of legalism. They were known for misconstruing the law for their own purposes. They were also extremely judgmental of those who did not hold to the same convictions. Furthermore, they were known for taking God's word out of context. Even though we have been redeemed from the law, legalism is still alive today.

Dispute between Jesus and the Pharisees, by Gustave Dore
Modern legalism takes on many different forms. First, legalism is taking God's laws and commands out of context. Some of God's laws were written for specific purposes. While it is true that all scripture is given to benefit all believers, some laws were given for specific reasons. For example, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians that women should have their heads covered when praying and worshiping in the church, and should not cut their hair too short. The Corinthian women apparently had a rebellious spirit. They did not want to submit to the male authority in the church. The women seemed to rebel by intentionally cutting their hair too short. Legalists take this verse out of context by saying that it is imperative that women have their heads covered by either a hat or some kind of material covering at all times while in the presence of males. Paul merely meant that women are never to have a rebellious spirit in worship. They were, and still are, to submit to male authority in the church.

Another form of legalism is when we make our personal opinions and convictions law by placing them on the same level as divine revelation. It is honorable to have convictions and beliefs. But when those beliefs are not found in the Bible, we must never pass them off as part of God's law. Furthermore, we should never judge those who go against our convictions when they are not necessarily condemned by God. We should not impose our unfounded and self-proclaimed beliefs on others when they are not backed biblically.

A third form of legalism includes adding rules to the Bible. The pharisees were guilty of this, and the Lord called them out on it (Mark 7:1-13). Legalists today say that partaking of certain pleasures are in themselves sinful. For example, modern legalists are more likely to add rules to the Bible that includes, but not limited to, the prohibition of dancing and movie theater attendance; music preference; and Bible preference. These pleasures are not in and of themselves sinful. God has created everything for man's enjoyment. However, these things become sinful when man uses them to disobey God's specific commands.

No comments:

Post a Comment