January 2, 2010 by Stacy McDonald
Not sure where to start with this post. Something has been bothering me for a while; and, while I’m tempted to just let it spill out as it comes, it’s such an important topic, I’m hesitant. So maybe I’ll just begin with a little brainstorming and create a “real” post later.
While I agree that legalism is a dangerous problem in the Church, most of the complaints I hear of late have more to do with reactionism than they do true legalism. Entire blogs are set up “warning” other Christians how they may spot legalistic churches or groups, or even how to judge whether or not a friend is a legalist. Most of their warnings aren’t based on Scripture or reason; most of their complaints are based upon their personal testimonies or experiences from when they, themselves, were legalists.
To me, that’s the most disturbing part. Since when are we called to superimpose our own past sins or judgmental attitudes on others? If you were a legalist at some point in your life, and thought that anyone who (insert extra-biblical teaching here) was sinning, then own your own sin; but, don’t get it in your head that all your brothers and sisters in Christ who seem to “look like you did” on the outside have the same sinful mindset on the inside!
Another related issue is idolatry. We focus on someone we “think” has it all together and we follow them, seeking to live like they do. Rather than study for ourselves and stand firm in what we believe, we often blindly embrace someone else’s convictions. Then, since the convictions weren’t our own to begin with, we’ll waver and eventually give up in despair; because really, we weren’t truly obeying God; we were just going through the motions. The result is that we blame the one we’ve been blindly “following.” We blame our idol for our idolatry.
We must know what we believe and why. We must not follow anyone but Jesus. God is a jealous God and He wants our unrivaled worship, devotion, and love.
Legalism is real; and it is ugly. But if you are guilty of it, why not spend your time repenting, rather than reporting?
Since these are somewhat rambling thoughts, I’d love to hear your input.
To finish these thoughts, read Legalism: Yours, Mine, and Ours here.