Galatians 2:16-17 (KJV)
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
The subject of legalism gets twisted in our day as, I suppose, it always has. When I first began in the ministry any preacher who taught a standard of righteousness might be accused of legalism.
To preach separation from the world was considered legalism.
To reject modern music, immodest dress or worldly entertainment was called legalism.
This is nothing but using a word we have come to believe is ungodly to condemn those with whose faith we have personal disagreement. (“I don’t like you, so you are a legalist.” “I don’t want to submit to that.” So, it is legalistic.)
While the terms legalist and legalistic are nowhere found in the Bible, the subject is clearly presented in the book of Galatians. Legalism is seeking to be justified through the works of the law. Legalism is an attempt to be pronounced righteous in the sight of God through obedience to religious duty, specifically, the Old Testament/Mosaic law. Legalism in its original form, was the error of the Judaizers – what we would call today Messianic Jews.
Many of the more modern Judaizers propose that they are saved through faith but that they are right with God and man through the law. This skirts the issue and avoids the teaching of the New Testament. We have a new law vastly superior to the old. We are to love God with all our heart soul and mind and love our neighbor as our self.
This in no way excuses the New Testament believer from standards, or separation, or godliness. Being justified by Christ compels us to live differently than sinners of the world.
To my readers:
First of all, thank you! It is a great joy to me to know you read the thoughts and lessons God has given me in His word. Secondly, I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave comments.
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Galatians 2:16-17 What Is Legalism?
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