Note, Quotation marks and a * at the end of sentence means bible quote or quote.
One night as I sunk into my couch potato position after a long day at the office, I could not believe what I heard on BBC news, some poor soul in Afghanistan was sentenced to death for printing from his computer information that his country was failing in women’s rights. He had shown it to a fellow worker who then preceded to report him to authorities. From there he was charged and sentenced to death.
A couple months before I had heard a similar news cast when a British women was to be sent to jail for allowing her school class to name a school project after Allah, parents reported it to authorities and she was charged for breaking one of their religious laws, there were even protests to sentence her to death.
Although to our western thinking this seems so different and extreme, over the years as a counselor I have witnessed the destruction of families due to extreme thinking. Fathers who have been tyrants in there own home in the name of some conviction of self delusion.
Families separated because some minister of a church marked a family member and were told to shun in the guise of protection from the evil one, and what is more discouraging is trying to get them to change their thinking or see any light, it is almost impossible!
Now we may think at least they are not killing someone. But my friend the destruction and division of a family that may be scared forever are no laughing matter. Family is a sacred place in the heart of God, He created it as a place of trust, safety and healing, to have this disrupted or even destroyed is crippling and sadly many in out nations and around the world can testify to that.
Today even though we may have more organizations for the rights of victims, more laws created seemingly for freedom and protecting, we are ultimately having more problems! We have created a system that is beginning to look more like a police state, a big brother world or a law driven society that is eroding rights daily and mostly because of a word that is based on fear!
Humanity is being bombarded by humanistic views and information that are leading the minds of men to wars, which in turn are causing more destruction, and calamities to the fabric of all that exists.
Our economy is crumbling before our eyes as greed and words like free markets, capitalism and globalization are lead by the banking system that are taking the masses like sheep to the slaughter.
Where to own a home, a car, pay the bills and put food on the table is causing stress to epidemic proportions and in turn created the local drug store as a place for all our lifestyle answers.
Our political environment is a disaster, even in the name of democracy and freedom where trust, ethics and integrity is no longer recognized and to care is considered a weakness!
So what has been happing, what is the cause, why is it seemingly getting worse instead of better and what can we do to recognize the problem?
The writing you are about to read will hopefully put some light on the problem and will make one recognize and be aware of how they can help change their environment and understand the great battle that humanity is facing.
The Shocking Word
I want to discuss a word that will lead into a subject that may shock you as a reader, a subject that I feel is critically important for the purpose of setting free a destructive mind. Now it is not a subject that has not been written about, but maybe here presented from a different perspective. I want to present to you a subject that is a scourge and strain on humanity. A problem that most seem to never acknowledge or think about, a stronghold that seems somehow oblivious to most, yet it is so potent to the soul of humanity that like a cancerous virus it will cause complete blindness to reality.
Throughout the ages and to this very day, billions have been entrenched under its control and in turn it has caused isolation, segregation, persecution and murder. It is a bondage that is so attractive to the multitudes that once captured they will walked from a place of freedom and liberty and jump into its cesspool of deception and despair.
So cunning and devious is its maneuvering that most never comprehend they are stuck in its deadly claws or possess its horrible smell. It counterfeits as moral and good, a fake imitation of righteousness that sounds, says, and looks right to the pride of human flesh. To those who perceive it, it is nauseating and sickening. To the great Creator of the universe it is a stench to His nostrils and can only view it as darkness to the souls of those He has created.
As you read these words you may be thinking to yourself, "What on earth is this person talking about? What problem could be so dark, destructive, hideous and a menace to the very fabric of our humanity?
Read very carefully, it is called Legalism! Yes you read correctly, the biggest problem, or let me say more bluntly, the biggest sin on planet earth is legalism, a plague so out of control today that it is on the brink of destroying the very fabric that hold this planet together, but what's even worse, some of its breading ground comes out of one of our oldest institution today, the church!
This may offend you, seem harsh and hard to believe but as we ponder and understand this fascinating subject, we may be shocked at what we find and that it may be closer to home then we realize.
Let me also warn you, that what you are about to read may cause many reactions. You may experience anger or disbelief, on the other hand you may experience a sense of well being, a renewed understanding of the great Creator. You may even end up hating me, but that’s the chance I have to take. It is simply not for the light at heart!
The sin of legalism has caused more hurt, rejection and suppression to mankind, that it is rare to find someone on this planet who has not felt the rage of its scorn.
It is a weapon of the dark side of humanity, a ballistic tool fabricated to blind the human consciousness from seeing and experiencing the love of the true and living God, a strategic weapon to blast freedom from life and bring only sorrow, pain, blindness and bondage.
No one is immune from catching this fake morality. To recognize, and then deal with it is the problem; it is a strong fortress to contend with. The only possible cure to this cancerous counterfeit is to know truth.
John of the bible made a profound proclamation by saying you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Now the first question we must ask is what exactly legalism is, especially when it concerns us and how do we expose the problem with in?
I must also say it is not an easy investigation and I in no way am an expert on this subject. But what I have seen, experienced and learned needs to be told so that someone may be prepared for the coming days of trouble on planet earth. I believe that this is a globalize sin that is growing faster than any world government, religious or secular think tanks can contend with.
It roots start from the very beginning of humanity and has threaded and intertwined century by century, nation by nation, people by people and has affected the very fabric of our planet. A cancerous power that makes the plagues of our earth seems like child’s play, and growing!
From globalization, capitalism, socialism, global warming, war on terror, politics and religion, the list is never ending and all are being attacked and influenced to the core of its foundations. Legalism, as I have said, is darkness!
I believe with all my heart that this will be the root cause for instigating God to intervene in the coming events that could total wipe out civilization as we know it, so this is not to be taken lightly!
Now it may be easy to recognize what we think is legalism from religious extremist and what we have witnessed over the past few years on the so called war on terrorism, but what about in our own front yard? Our own governments, churches and communities, I believe it is ones self that this journey must begin!
Now first let us be careful in our judgment that by trying to expose the horror of legalism we do not become a legalist ourselves and hopefully in turn we expose what legalism we poses. Remember to be in any extreme legalism no matter what part of the world we live, will be detrimental and damaging.
Now for the sake of this writing we are going to point out more from the perspective of religion, but as you read and ponder you will find out that legalism has no predigest in the wide spectrum of world thinking and conduct. It is in our politics, media, work place, community centers, the list is never ending.
Now, a legalist is not someone who has moral responsibly or a sense of duty concerning God, government or country. To have a standard of accountability is right and good for a peace of mind. To have standards, regulations, police and codes within a certain structure are needed, without it we would have no order and that could bring chaos.
For instance a bible collage needs guidelines to train and discipline, but if a student misses these standards, he or she in no way should be looked upon any less then a person with the same human rights and position before God as those who did not miss it.
Religious legalism is when we impose our preconceived notions of God, in any form and ideas as absolute on others. Our teachings that add or take away from what God has already accomplished through the work of grace and His love through the cross.
Legalism is an attitude that a person must act or be a certain way in order to be blessed and accepted by persons, government, church or God. A system of religious thinking, which says a person, must do something to earn, merit, or keep what they think they have in God.
Legalism is simply an attitude, a way of looking at life and has little to do with doctrine or what is truth. Although some doctrines seem based on legalism, our understanding of doctrine or truth must be based in the love of God which is His free grace to all.
Yet at the same time grace is not legalism. My point is that trying to please God is not legalism. To obey God's principals and command to love are good and pleasing to Him. The problem is not law keeping but a codependent or dependence on the law for approval and acceptance by God, government or church.
So we must always remember in this writing the problem is not in obeying or doing the will of God but in an attitude that trusting in one's performance or good works can gain favor, blessings or acceptance with God. This is the root of religious legalism.
To go further this attitude is something we are usually convinced about with an emotional element. It is the way we consider, regard or act towards people, it can be a driving force in our political ideology or convictions and sadly many of our reactions come out of these attitudes even if they are wrong because legalism is always right.
So where do these attitudes come from? From the mother's womb, depending on environment, culture, nationality we are instilled with standards, raised in a controlled atmosphere, dictated by parents, teachers, politicians and religious leaders.
Before we become adults and could think for ourselves, we were given the dos and don'ts of life, Loved with firmness, developed in fears and insecurities. What to trust and what to watch for. In the end we developed mechanisms, checks and balances, attitudes that develop our character and lifestyle whether right or wrong.
If we were raised in an atheistic environment then we would lean to atheism.
If we were raised as a Muslim, we would lean towards Islam.
If raised in a home of sports, then we would be impelled towards sports.
If we were surrounded music and musicians, then we would probably be a musician.
If political swayed to views of a certain party then you would support that party, just ask why people vote the way they do.
If there were certain abuses, mental or substance, then one would struggle from not falling into the clutches of abuses, mental or substance.
Our environment of growth will dictate much of who we are, If you do not believe me, walk around our communities, visit different churches, political offices, speak to people from different cultures, nationalities, back grounds, talk to the rich and the poor and see if this is not true.
Now when our attitude concerns religious legalism, the foundation is usually based on fear. Fear of an angry God because we are instilled through upbringing, law keeping, works performance mentalities, which is brought into our life with God.
We simply do not know God as; "He loved us before we loved Him or the perfect love of God cast out fear, fear of punishment and wrath. Instead through traditions and distorted insecure views of God, we end up because of this legalistic view striving to gain favor, blessing and acceptance on the bases of the fear of God!
Religion or legalism will always present a god of fear because it uses it to control the mind of the masses, it is used by Governments, religious sects, churches, mosque, and the list is never ending. Legalism does not believe that love covers a multitude of sins. When man is in control without God this is a perfect incubator for legalism. All and I mean all dictators and tyrants in leadership use legalism weather they know it or not, they just do not know its name.
Remember that today we create gods from any thing that takes away from the great Creator; we live in the age of a worshiping spirit of self where sports figures, movie stars, politicians and so on have taken the place of truth,
This is not something new; this has been here since the beginning when Adam and Eve were afraid of their maker. This was the birth of legalism; simply fear came and cast out perfect love,
From Cane and Able to every war through out the ages they have all started and been fought on the bases of legalism. As the old saying goes absolute power corrupts and legalism is the root of absolute corrupt power and sadly we all posse the ability to carry it.
The Shock Root
Now let us for the propose of this writing look at religious legalism from what we call a believer or Christian perspective of God and the bible, This root of legalism or deception starts on the bases of trying to mix the Old Testament law with New Testament grace, mixing the new wine in the old wineskin.
Jesus of the bible said it will not mix. It is like trying to mix oil with water, you may shake it but after it settles, it will automatically separate. Oil and water are direct opposites. Law and grace are also direct opposites or set against each other.
Under the system of Law we are taught we must perform to earn God's approval or blessings. Simply the Law says, give or satisfy me first then I might give to you, depending on if it is acceptable. If it is not then you will be cursed with a curse.
The trouble is, no one in the Old Testament was ever able to keep the perfect law. Why would we think we could in the new age of grace? The problem is, when do you satisfy the law, what is the measurement and how can mere humans ever give enough to a perfect righteous God who has everything?
No wonder we are afraid, insecure and unsure of God. Let's get serious, I know my limitations, wanting to do what is right, yet seemingly doing the wrong thing. Stumbling and sometimes crawling through life.
Legalism is simply the wrong use of Law, which turns into rules and regulations, do's and don'ts, a system of works and performance to satisfy and appease God. It is an old system that no longer applies for today, yet people all over the world are still trying to apply this old system to appease God or a god on the bases of their works, performance and sacrifices.
Now grace (God or love) on the other hand says, because of my Son I give favor, blessings and acceptance to all and especially to those who will trust and rely on Me. It is saying, I have already blessed and accepted you, so now you can perform. Now you can do good works.
Grace defined is God's unmerited favor or God's riches at Christ's expense. It is infinite, limitless, eternal, unconditional, unlimited love of God expressed towards humanity that does not deserve it. Grace changes the motivation!
For example some believe that keeping the Law can attain salvation. Others understand salvation as a free gift without the Law. Most believers or what we call Christians would agree with the latter. Yet ask many of these same believers if they believe that justification, sanctification and righteousness comes by observing external rules, regulations and some will answer, yes! This is where we get our modern day legalism within a church, the mixing of the old and the new.
The Law is not for this age. Now when I talk about the Law, we are speaking of a series of covenants given to the Jews of the Old Testament, yes they were an act of divine grace, arrangements initiated by God out of his spontaneous mercy but they were Laws of conditions.
So the questions many ask is, do we live under the Law? If not then has God abolish or not abolished the Law and what was its purpose?
Again we must understand the purpose of the Law was simply given by God as a moral reflection of Himself. A mirror image of who He is in His perfection. The Law was never meant to save or make perfect humanity but to show man's depravity.
Remember God is absolute holiness, righteousness and justice. He never intended that man live under the jurisdiction of the Law, but it was the nation of Israel, not the gentiles, that ask and promised to live by its demands. But understand no one, not one Jew ever did!
The law cannot satisfy, justify or make anyone righteous or perfect. Its purpose was simply to show all of humanity that they needed a mediator or a savior!
Yes, the Law in and of itself was good, perfect and holy but not for saving humanity.
When the Israelites looked upon the mirror of the Law it revealed that they were depraved sinners without hope. It was to show them their imperfectness, and in turn make them look to God for their salvation.
The Law was never meant to be for them but was against them, to show them their depravity. Again it showed God's perfection which of course was contrary to them. They simply could not, and never did completely obey it.
All their good works could pile high to the moon but it would not be enough to appease God and His goodness or holiness.
The thing that we must understand is that we had a nature contrary to God. Because of the sin of Adam, we were born into sin. We are filled with sin, indebted and totally bankrupt. We needed a change in our nature, and thinking
In Israel's condition, God by His grace and mercy gave them temporary relief through types and shadows of the Son to come, the sacrifice of bulls and calves as a covering or yearly atonement for their sins. It also helped to protect them from the curse of the law, but again it was only temporary.
Now God had a different plan. He knew that all man in and of himself was lost. So this loving, perfect, holy, just God took a perfect, holy, righteous sacrifice in His only begotten Son, and nailed Him to a tree.
The bible says that God canceled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the bond (Law) with its legal decrees and demands, which was in force and stood against us hostile to us. This note with its regulations decrees and demands (the Law) He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to the cross.
The Son’s death was a perfect sacrifice that He offered as a one time eternal atonement for the sins of all mankind. It was not a covering but a new life of liberty and freedom from the law and its curse. All that was needed was for humanity to look to this sacrifice and understand they are qualified and delivered from the curse. But it went even further; it also qualified them to right of inheritance with all privilege, favor, blessings, acceptance and stature in the house of God. This is called the work of infinite, limitless, eternal, unconditional, unlimited love of grace!
Again understand humanity through the fall of Adam was born with a fallen nature. They did nothing to deserve it. Yet because of being born in it, they now lived a life of the flesh, dictated by the Law and its motivation, which is works and performance!
A change had to come to this planet but it had to come by the Spirit, because the fallen ways of man through Adam was in debt to sin. Sin had no place before God because He is just and holy. So the Son delivered humanity from the Law and its curse.
In the law, humanity had no hope because they could not pay the debt. The Law reflected their inability. But this is where the Messiah stepped in as the perfect sacrifice. Through His death on the cross at Calvary, He took upon Himself sins of humanity, He paid their punishment, and He stood in their place and suffered their deserved chastisement.
Today by understanding the work of the Son we are justified in God's sight; declared in right standing before Him. He has now become our peace.
Now this could not be accomplished by us but it was done out side of us, it is a completed work of righteousness in God and credited to our account. All we do to benefit this great work of grace is to trust that He has done so!
The Laws demand of punishment for our sins was ratified and is no more. We need not be afraid of punishment or judgment; we are no longer under law, but under grace.
This means that God has had mercy on us by not giving us the penalty we deserve. Yet by grace he has given us the free gift of salvation, a gift we did not deserve.
Now this does not mean the law in and of it is dead or bad. On the contrary the Law is very mush alive, it is holy, perfect and good but because we are in the Son we are dead to the Law and its control. It has no legal right to give us guilt or condemnation, because we have no relationship to it!
We must understand that when the Son died on the cross, we died with Him. When He was buried, our old man was buried with Him. When He arose, we were raised with Him in the newness of life.
Paul wrote in the bible, “We know that a man is justified or reckoned righteous and in right standing with God not by works of the Law, but only through faith and absolute trust in God. Therefore even we ourselves have believed on the Son, in order to be justified by faith in the Son and not by works of the Law, for we cannot be justified by any observance of the ritual of the law given by Moses, because by keeping legal rituals and by works no human being can ever be justified or declared righteous and put in right standing with God.”
For us to return back to the Law of works is to fall back into bondage (the flesh) and its curse. It is a fall from grace and into condemnation and guilt. This is where legalism is out of control in every aspect of the world.
The bible says that we are not to treat God's gracious gift with minor importance, we are not to set aside or frustrate the grace of God. For if right standing comes through observing the Law then the Son died for no purpose and in vain. God’s Son delivered us from the curse of legalism.
The Law in and of it cannot produce what God desires within people because of its motivation, which is fear and insecurity, but grace can! Yet grace has already blessed us because we cannot earn it. It's free! It removes fear of the Law and replaces it with love as a motivation.
Under Law the results and blessings are all up to us, our performance, and our works! Under grace we are already blessed and have free accesses to all of God's resources, without any guilt or condemnation.
God has simply abolished the effects of the Law, through the cross and redeemed us from the working of its curse. He purchased our freedom, redeeming us from the curse of the Law and its condemnation. By Himself becoming a curse for us, for it is written, cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree or is crucified. The Son became the curse for us, fulfilled all its demands, and absorbed all its penalties. So thank God we live under the love of His Grace!
Today we are free indeed! Freedom meaning the right and privilege to become everything God desires us to be, to be able to choose God's ways instead of the control of the Law of legalism.
Freedom gives us, as the children of God, the privilege to be able to walk into the presents of a holy God without guilt or feeling inferior, to be able to present our petitions, to express our desires and love as a child with a Father.
Paul wrote in the bible to let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace, the throne of God's unmerited favor, that we may receive mercy for our failures and find grace to help in good time for every need.
The only way we can come into God's present fearlessly is if we have no reason to be afraid. To come confidently before the throne of grace, we must be secure in what He has accomplished through the Son.
The only way we can come boldly to have audience with an awesome God is if we understand His favor and free access to Him.
The only way is knowing that His love has cast out all fear to all humanity and that the power of legalism has no place in the royal chambers of a wonderful God and Father to all!
The spirit of legalism is forever maneuvering to ensnare us back to the place of the Law, a place under its jurisdiction as an accuser, simply trying to push us back into bondage again, and understand that is it job and that is its power.
It is continually trying to present God, through a legalistic view, as an egotistic, condescending, angry, abusive, overbearing God, one who gets pleasure in destroying the lives of humans, especially if they do not tow the party line.
Peter said we are to be sober, be vigilant because our adversary walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour and today Legalism is one of our greatest adversaries.
Paul also said that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. He also said we are to leave no room or foothold for the adversary and give no opportunity to him.
As we can see from these words, it does not take a doctorate in theology to realize that we have an enemy or adversary. Yet there are many who do not believe in an adversary and in turn act like one does not exist. Yet legalism as an adversary is in every fabric of our society.
Most have little understanding of the spirit realm and how it effects the environment in which they live; they are simply ignorant to the adversary’s devices, especially legalism!
Now let me note for your understanding, that when I use the name adversary, I am speaking of a spirit that opposes God and His system of life.
In some English bibles adversary is translated Satan or the devil but in the original text of Hebrew and Greek it is translated adversary, which means someone or something that opposes God.
For example Jesus said to Peter, “Stand behind me Satan.” This seems very harsh to someone who loved and support God’s Son. But simply He was calling Peter an adversary for an attitude of legalism that opposed God’s plan for the Son.
When the Son of God was in the wilderness fasting forty days and forty nights, the adversary tried to convince the Son He could have the world if he worshiped the adversary. Many believe it was a literal individual person named Satan, you know the mythical fiery red person with horns and a pitch fork. This was not the case but a battle of the Son’s flesh, the same flesh you and I battle every day, the side of us that opposes the God kind of life for us on planet earth. The side of us that legalism tries to control and bring its power into existence.
The adversary is a spirit of antichrist, it is of the world and its system that opposes God, which is why Paul speaks of renewing our mind so we are not conformed to this world but transformed so we can know the good and expectable and perfect way of life.
Please take no offense to this but you and I many times even in a single day, have been an adversary, a Satan, a devil, and an antichrist concerning God, the second we choice to sin or walk after the dictates of the flesh we are of an antichrist spirit.
Thank God there is no condemnation to those who are in the Son and that because of the cross He has cover and washed out the adversary of sins past, present and future.
The bible goes on to says, “That to keep the adversary from getting the advantage over us, for we are to be not ignorant of the adversary wiles and intentions.”
We can understand the ignorance of those who are stooped in the world system, who do not know or understand the one true living God, but in a so called believer, many have the attitude they are immune to this adversary, not realizing that the acts of the flesh of legalism is an adversary and by not understanding this can be a critical and fatal mindset!
But again the good news is God, because of the cross has disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display over them in Him and in it the cross.
The adversary has lost his hold to keep us captive through the work of grace. Simply, we have been raised to a position of victory and dignity. So make a decision to walk in this position, and this can come with knowledge and understanding of God’s way of how He sees you and your place in His Kingdom.
Paul wrote, “That thanks be to God, who gives us the victory, making us conquerors through our Lord. And that thanks be to God who already leads us in trumpet in the Son.”
The bible also says, “What then shall we say to these things, If God is for us, who can be against us? And in all these things we are more than conquerors through the Son who loves us.”
It also said, “We are all God's children and have overcome the adversary, because He who is in us is greater then the adversary who is in the world through the flesh.
As we can see from these words, we are now more than conquerors. Yet this does not mean the adversary has curled up and died within us just look around at the system of this world today; there is every kind of evil imaginable!
The adversary still has deceit and strategies, spirit forces of wickedness at work. We must understand that principalities and powers, master spirits, present darkness and wickedness in high places also have an enemy and that enemy is you!
All evil the adversary posse, bitterness, offence, hatred and every vile thing is pointed towards us. It hates God and is at work twenty-four hours a day to discredit the work of the cross and make it look week to the world.
This adversary knows the legal power, position and authority that have been passed to the people of planet earth. And it knows that if one walks after the spirit and not the flesh what it will do to the antichrist spirit.
Today we live in a world of corrupt politicians, corporations and a system that is at war with God. Yet in the midst of the battle there are those who want peace and contentment on this planet, their works are honorable but true peace through out this world is by implementing the one and only true God’s way of life.
The adversary knows us intimately and knows what we can do to it and it is afraid, actually terrified with anxiety at the thought of our awakening to the power that poses us by the Spirit.
Every part of the adversary’s strategy and plans by the flesh are set to deceive, manipulate and divert us from understanding our authority and power in God.
Discouragement, depression, condemnation and low self worth are only a fraction of the weapons used against us, but legalism is one of the adversary’s favorite and most powerful tools!
So believe me the spirit of legalism has every right to feel dread, insecurity and panic. Can you imagine how it must have felt on the day of Pentecost? One hundred and twenty people in the upper room tarrying to receive the power from on high, before this the adversary had been dealing with only one Son of God! But suddenly from heaven came a rushing, a violent tempest blast. The whole room was filled with God's power and like tongues of fire; they were filled with the Spirit of power!
The antichrist spirit was in total shock and confusion. At one moment in time they had one Son of God who had authority over the flesh, the next moment they are dealing with one hundred twenty sons of God who now posse this same power as the one Son.
To give them an even bigger problems, Peter goes forth under that same power and preaches the good news of the spirits coming upon all flesh, and another three thousand people are given that same power of understanding as the Son of God.
The same power that defeated the adversary on the cross!
The same power that raised the Son from the dead!
Please let me create an analogy for our mind, I am sure that it did not take the adversary long to realize it had a problem. So with urgency the master spirits, principalities and power forces came together for warfare strategy or what we call an executive decision.
The plan was so simple, do everything in their evilness to blind the humanity of the world from seeing this power to all. How? Use religion, fear and false doctrine to present to the world the power spirit of legalism.
Now this is only imaginary on my part but to look at the world system today, it is easy to see that the sin and power of legalism is alive and well on planet earth. There is not a religion, nation, government or people that have not been infected by this cancerous shock virus in some way or form.
Now, I in no way want to exalt the works of the flesh. But it is real and is well organized with in our members, considering the destruction it has done and is trying to do to us every day!
But understand that God is far greater and more powerful then our flesh. He has given every person on planet earth the opportunity to live out this life of God. God has given us His ability and strength to tap into through the working of grace to escape and be set free from the clutches of legalism.
But the problem stems from a lack of knowledge and revelation of what God has accomplished in the cross. Understanding that shows you your position with God.
In the book of Hosea the Word says, that my people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. This may be a short bible verse but it looms large in consideration to what's happening to us concerning the struggles of the flesh under the hold and power of legalism.
To the Paul of the New Testament, the sin of legalism was very familiar. I believe it was the thorn in his flesh that caused him so mush suffering. The legalist religious leaders tormented and buffed him as he proclaimed the goodness of God. They did not know their God as a caring loving God but only as a law giver of rules, regulations and rituals. And in turn they did every thing in their power including stoning and beatings to shut him up about the God of grace.
In all of his inspired writings, Paul wrote of legalism’s impending destruction and influence to the flesh. The spirit of antichrist was the center of all his persecution and in the end it murdered him as he tried to teach freedom to people of his time.
The man Jesus of was not exempt from its horrific scorn. His own people, the Jews murdered Him at the cross because they had mastered the traditions of their forefathers, with all their Laws, rules and regulations.
The Son of God many times in the heat of religious battle, while speaking the message of a good God had to take head on the legalist, the so called defenders of the faith, the scribes and Pharisees.
He literally upset the apple cart of their commands, beliefs and ridge rituals, which provoked great anger and indignation. Throughout His whole great commission He continually exposed and rebuked this legalistic religious attitude. Bringing down the imposed rules their leaders lay heavy on the conscience of others.
He said, “They lay up heavy loads, hard to bear, and place them on men's shoulders, but they themselves will not lift a finger to help bear.”
But He had a different message, He said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls. Take My yoke upon and learn of Me, for I am gentle or meek and humble or lowly in heart, and you will find rest, relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quit for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome, it useful, good-not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant, and My burden is light and easy to bare.”
This is the Son of God speaking, this is who God is and what He is about, Legalism does every thing opposite to these words spoken. Legalism and the legalist, in know way resembles this God. Legalism is not gentle, meek or humble, it gives no rest and does not refresh or quit the soul, and it is burdensome, controlling, harsh, hard and not pleasant in any form. Legalism is a works message that drives people away from the real God into the arms of the tyrant of legalism, the adversary.
Now some of the traditions and rules presented by these religious zealots in that time may seem in our view to be ridiculous and we may look at it with laughter. But this is no laughing matter, and to be honest not mush has changed today, and more so I am convinced it is growing worse. We might be surprised to find that some our own cherished beliefs, rules and traditions could also be very laughable but more so dangerous.
So how do we view and encounter legalism today? Well we might be surprised to find that if someone disagreed or questioned our beliefs, they too would receive our scorn and indignation.
For a moment, let us think about some of the things we have been taught and what we believe. What about the teachings and ways of our parent, peers and religious leaders, the traditions and beliefs of our forefathers? How about our political views and ideologies? How much of this is in ingrained in our thinking, emotions and action?
Have some of these strong attitudes and beliefs come into our life that we are mentally infected with a form of legalism. Remember prideful people do what they want; this is a work of the flesh and is an adversary and independent of God.
For a moment let us ponder and deal with these statements, statements that we need to think about and look at ourselves with an open heart.
Even though some of our beliefs have no bible base, do we still have strong conviction and swear by them?
Think about this, are you forever striving for approval from God and man?
Do you live a life of constant works, self efforts and high standards that never seems to please you?
Do you continually get frustrated, never satisfied or secure with yourself, God, your job or anyone else!
Do you feel guilt about your walk or relationship with friends, work place or God!
Do you live a life of strife, constantly at odds, argumentative, critical, easily shunning or looking down at those who do not measure or agree with you!
Do you always have to give your opinion or point of view, and sometimes in the name of God!
Do you get passive; yet take abuse easily as suffering for God and your religion!
Do you feel you are the faithful and loyal one of God and that you would never do what they are doing!
Do you believe that if others do not agree with you, they are in error!
Do you take pride in separation of someone or something, for purity sakes!
Do you feel that fellowship with people is based on your interpretation of your beliefs?
Do you get touchy and offend easily when people question your beliefs.
Do you like and are motivated by labels, I am Muslim, I am Evangelical, I am Catholic, I am a conservative or I am an atheist, etc!
That you would never go visit or may even withdraw from a group or person because they are not within the boundaries your religious or secular doctrines.
Do you as a leader in a group feel it is your job to keep rank and file in order to keep in line with your denominational or religion!
Do you feel you are called to inspect the fruits of others, maybe a sheriff sent by God to keep order in your group, church, and business or in this world?
Do you encourage isolation!
Do your arguments with others stem on disagreements the bible is silent on, but yet you are convinced you right even though you have no proof!
Do you tend to pronounce judgment on those who do wrong or disagree with you?
Statements like if their not for me then they are against me!
Do you tend to follow some man's or leaders teaching and hang on to every word they say as truth, instead of checking it out for yourself?
Do you love to use quotes or bible verses, to justify your actions?
Do you tend to rationalize and except crass and hard altitudes as ok, for God sake?
Do you feel that you can earn your way to heaven or God by our good works or what you think is good living!
Do you make your religious experience a burden instead of a joy!
Do you feel pride and self-importance in your integrity and obedience!
Tend to proselyte people to your beliefs system.
Do you think that trying to keep the Ten Commandments will keep you out of bondage!
Do you believe that your obedience to God's commands leads you to justification!
Do you believe that by our actions you can sustain your salvation with God!
Do you think of a person who disagrees with your religious beliefs is in error and week faith!
Do you tend to be domineering or controlling!
Do you demand uniformity or conformity!
Do you demand that all must accept your judgment as final and correct!
Do you tend to be self-centered!
Do you operate in fear and suspicion!
Do you get threatened easily and defend yourself at all cost!
Do you tend to reject those who have more knowledge!
Do you become easily paranoid!
Do you have an extravagant view of yourself!
Do you demand absolute obedience or service to you organization, government or church.
Do you see God's love as conditional!
Do you get insensitive to the needs of others!
Now the list that you just read in no way comes even close to the preparation to being a legalist, but as we read and ponder we may discovered areas in our life that fits a pattern. A pattern that makes us good candidates to falling into extreme legalism
Remember all of us struggle with legalism in some form or another. To some it is different then someone else. But it all comes from the same dark hole of the adversary. The problem comes when we begin to effect the environment of others with our preconceived ideas of what we think God is! When we start to burden and steal the joy others, this is ground we do not want to be on!
Now before you get under condemnation, let me interact that no matter how hard you work, or how well you perform, there will never be a time when you will feel you have done enough. Our position and security with God is not based on what we feel, but on what God has done through his Son.
The adversary, legalism, the flesh, is in the business of saying, in order for God to be happy; you must read and study your bible more. To appease Him, you must fast more. To be blessed by Him you must give more. To be accepted by Him, you must sacrifice more. Now even though to fast, pray, study, give and even sacrifice in service in certain ways are good, they do not or ever will change who we are in God sight.
Legalism is a tool of the flesh that makes us feel condemned and insecure before God. It has mastered the art of making us feel we have not done enough.
You may say, “No problem I can deal with this! But once discovered it can be a fight and retching of the soul. Remember we have had years of training. To instantly pull out ingrained hurts, offences, wrong beliefs and attitudes is a task in and of itself, yet not impossible to the Spirit of God!
The only way that we will recognize or deal with legalism is through proper teaching and understanding who God is by the renewing of the mind to truth.
The bible says, do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
Another verse says, for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of God.
The question is, how do we pull and cast down strongholds if we lack knowledge and have not renewed our mind to what God said?
Now I understand God and His ways is a progress of time and experience, but by starting to look at the work of legalism today through ideologies, beliefs and religion we may soon see that it has lost Godly common sense. Yes it is easy to view the extremist in another part of the world but oh how it has grown and infused this generation in our own back yard!
A Serious Look
Concerning the view of the believer and the church we have come an incredible distance in the last few years, I have witnessed people and movements that seem to be on the cutting edge of showing us the complete freedom and grace of God. Yet through the pride of men, slowly they are led into another structure of religious legalism.
It is very hard for man to allow God to control; false humility, pride and self importance can be a great obstacle, it is easy to become an overload instead of overseer when there is an attitude of competition in religion, using doors as opportunity for personal gain, instead of a place to love and serve people.
The masses have simply become numbers in the gain for greed where men have become rich, a legalistic system that has no feeling and justifies every move in the name of progress to their god.
We have taken on the attitude and personality of a capitalist chain store, strategizing, calculating population, income, nationality, maneuvering to find the perfect place to set up shop.
We now present churches like storefronts, with all the right dressings, the best music, the best youth and children's program, all to create that image that may bring up the numbers and if one looks deeply most just came from another storefront.
We are burdened down with huge salaries, mortgages and debt. We then escalate it to television, radio, some new project designed to raise finances and awareness that we are church of the hour. The ironic thing is people flock to this performance driven centers, looking to keep an image or satisfy an emotion all this driven by the worldly legalism picked up from the so called free market.
Soon through legalism people begin to judge and scrutinize other churches as doing something by what they see on outward appearances, like the biggest, the flashiest, the most entertaining, again created not by God but by the working of an antichrist spirit that is manufactured by worldly dictates.
Soon aggressive individuals come looking for a position on the corporate ladder of the ministry success. It is no longer the call and leading of God but connections, resume or degrees behind one's name.
Now I don't want to give the impression that I do not believe in big churches or ministries. I believer we should be trained in administrating and academically sound. I do believe in good programs and how we present ourselves to the world. They need to see us succeed but not for the price of thirty pieces of silver. Not at the cost of merchandising the truth of the bible. Jesus seen this when he became angry at the money changers in the synagogues, yet today at times we seem to have elevated things above the mercies of God.
There are ministries today that have assets in the millions and some in the hundred of millions, yet we have a world that is starving because the rich simple are getting richer. What happened to Jesus statement that we are to remember to take care of the poor?
As a minister I have listened and tried to pick up the carnage of battle-ridden souls. Permanent scars and wounds caused by the legalistic guns and canons. Numerous times I have shaken my head at the lack of consideration for ones dignity and self-worth.
Yes, most walked into it with eyes wide open but I have found that because of a wrong view of God, legalism, they believed it was the way to go for fear of disappointing Him.
I have heard confessions of those who said they heard God telling them not to go that direction, yet they allowed legalistic apprehension to override common sense. Many were sincere and changed their way, yet others had taken the bait hook line and sinker, justifying their actions in the name God and selling a portion of their inheritance for a taste of success.
Thank God that He is a forgiving God and dealt with our humanity at the cross.
Thank God for His grace and mercy in the times of our ignorance.
We have simply allowed good doctrine to be consumed with; it feels like God, so it must be God. Legalism!
I fear that we as believers are stuck on a trend mode. What ever is new, let’s try it. Like as in the worlds system, we have come up with designer names to fit our new cloths of beliefs and doctrine. Names I dare not repeat for the sake of losing friends. But in the end the new movements only led us deeper into the pit of legalism, a place of discouragement and disappointment.
What must it take to awaken us to this accepted sin and to recognize it putrid smell. We need to check our heart and see if some of our thinking needs to change. First John says, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. So what we normally speak is what we normally believe!
I have graciously listened to individuals who speak through fables and vain imaginations, as God speaking to them. I have no problem with visions and dreams by the Spirit but when peoples lives hang in the balance with images that in no way resemble anything common to Godly doctrines, I am of great concern!
We can become so entrenched in false perceptions that we become no earthly good to God’s plan. Instead we become a laughing stock to a world that already has a bad image of us through legalism.
In some subtle way some of us have accepted a crass attitude of speaking the Word as ok for the gospel sake. I have not found scriptures that say it is all right to become brain dead.
The writings of James said; Out of the mouth precede blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be. Well some things that are happening in the so called church ought not to be but they are still happening.
We need to take responsibility for the space in which we live. If we have created a space of insecurity, fear, suspicion or a la la land attitude, then we are lined up to legalism.
I am not a psychologist and have no intention of getting into everyone's sub-conscience. There are many reasons for the way we are and act! I only want us to take the common sense approach of God and apply it to how we treat others and the world around us.
We must rely on the great councilor, comforter, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, standby and that He will remain with us forever, that means He is here to guide us through life. So who are we really listening too! Who are we drawing our strength and help from! It may not seem that important, but it is critical to the way we live and think concerning God and the legalism that threatens our way of life on planet earth.
For examples, how do I react if I was a councilor and had to deal with sin in the heart of another believer? This may sound simple enough but I have seen people come out of a legalist counseling session more confused and oppressed then when they went in. Sadly the information given was based on works and performance. Legalism! Not based on the care of a loving Father of Grace!
Someone may say, Well we need a tough love approach! Yes I believe that we need to be strait and honest concerning the works of the flesh and its destruction but only on the bases of love and acceptance.
Understand I am not talking about a mushy, gooey, compromising love but a love that has answers based on grace, demonstrating to the person that God cares and has sufficient strength and power to help.
There is nothing more arrogant and hurting then getting information from someone who has a self righteous, get your act together mentality. This approach may seem to work for the moment but in the end it only opens a Pandora's Box in a person’s emotion. As a counselor I have proven this to be true on more then one occasion.
As those who are counselors know, that our life is entrenched in counseling to keep God's children free. I can also tell you this is no easy accomplishment, especially when we are dealing with individual minds entrenched with legalism!
Please understand, to know me, I am not a doom and gloom type of guy but there is a sense in my spirit that there is trouble in them there hills, that if we do not quickly clue into the adversary concerning legalism we will see and experience things that not ought to be. But maybe it is too late and soon our God may have to take this whole planet into his hand and deal with it in a loving matter that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.
Their are those who simple do not want to be set free or change, but I have found with several question and answers, most of their problems are rooted in legalism.
The mind is very complex and only God has the full understanding of the human conscious. I have studied books and heard much teaching, yet I am convinced that only the power of God's grace can set a person free of themselves and legalism.
Grace will always lead people to God as their source and strength. Remember God created it all. He knows the beginning from the end.
All of creation as well as earth's history is directed to the saving power of God and the work of the cross. There is no one in all of humanity past and present that is exempt from this truth. If this is true then the answers of life and emotional stability rest in the creator of this universe!
I must admit it is interesting to try to get into the human heart and mind but we must be careful that we do not try to take God's place. The sub conscious stores much information about a person. Change of mind, will and emotion can only come when we allow God's grace to approach our insecurities on the bases of love.
The doors of the mind have tight security locks of hurts, mistrust and disappointments. We may never know complete freedom from these emotions due to the fear of experiencing them again. Yet by not trusting God, we only build walls higher and deeper in our heart, this is called legalism!
These walls or stronghold's can become fortress to contend with! To bring a person to the place of allowing demolition takes trust, and that can only come from someone who cares and that is God, but hopefully a vessel will yield and in turn hear His voice through the frequencies of grace!
The amazing thing about grace is she will approach with conviction that never gives guilt or condemnation. Always comforts and exhorts and understands the dilemma of the problem with the assurance that she has the answer. She never controls but always leads into the arms of a God whose love never rejects or turns us away. Simply grace never quit on you!
Legalism does the opposite! It will always present guilt and condemnation and makes one feel like they have not done enough, it controls with a convicting attitude of inferiority and present standards that only bring us back to our bondage again. As a councilor, legalism makes us co-dependent on our emotions and feelings and eventually leads us back around to the dark pit of itself, legalism.
I have written this book from a believer to a believer hoping that we would see and understand the power of the adversary and the working of the flesh. But for a moment let us look not so close at ourselves but at the world we live in.
A day is approaching and is upon us that the troubles of this world to come will shake us to our very bones. I believe that God will have to soon intervene in this world due to the destructive and powerful works of legalism.
People every second are being persecuted and destroyed by its working force. The adversary knows that its time is coming to an end and knows that the final battle is upon all flesh, and it will go down with a fight. The adversary has honed its skill of legalism thought-out the centuries and it has become the weapon of choice to try to embarrass the all might God.
Around the world the preparation of battle has been set, man has been pushed to its lowest form and the power of greed, religious fanaticism, lust, coveting, murder to just name a few are at its peaking. Man now has the ability to destroy this planet and because of the spirit of antichrist and the weapon of legalism it will soon come to pass. So please prepare your heart and be ready for the greatest event in the history of this world and humanity.
Copyright Roxy Nolin 2000 - Revised 2008