Struggling against the legalism of simple obedience, we end by setting up the most dangerous law of all, the law of the world and the law of grace. In our effort to combat legalism we land ourselves in the worst kind of legalism. The only way of overcoming this legalism is by real obedience to Christ when he calls us to follow him; for in Jesus the law is at once fulfilled and cancelled.
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one primary enemy of the Gospel-legalism-comes in two forms. Some people avoid the gospel and try to save themselves by keeping the rules, doing what they're told, maintaining the standards, and so on (you could call this 'front-door legalism'). Other people avoid the gospel and try to save themselves by breaking the rules, doing whatever they want, developing their own autonomous standards, and so on (you could call this 'back-door legalism').
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Tolerance is not a spiritual gift; it is the distinguishing mark of postmodernism; and sadly, it has permeated the very fiber of Christianity. Why is it that those who have no biblical convictions or theology to govern and direct their actions are tolerated and the standard or truth of God's Word rightly divided and applied is dismissed as extreme opinion or legalism?
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Legalism is a problem in the church, but so is anti-nomianism. Granted, I don't hear anyone saying, 'Let's continue in sin that grace may abound'. That's the worse form of antinomianism. But strictly speaking, antinomianism simply means no-law, and some Christians have very little place for the law in their pursuit of holiness.
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We know that to become a Christian we shouldn't try to fix ourselves up, but when it comes to praying we completely forget that. We'll sing the old gospel hymn, 'Just as I Am, ' but when it comes to praying, we don't come just as we are. We try, like adults, to fix ourselves up. Private, personal prayer is one of the last great bastions of legalism. In order to pray like a child, you might need to unlearn the nonpersonal, nonreal praying that you've been taught.
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[There are, in us] possibilities that take our breath away, and show a world wider than either physics or philistine ethics can imagine. Here is a world in which all is well, in spite of certain forms of death, death of hope, death of strength, death of responsibility, of fear and wrong, death of everything that paganism, naturalism and legalism pin their trust on.
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If love is the soul of Christian existence, it must be at the heart of every other Christian virtue. Thus, for example, justice without love is legalism; faith without love is ideology; hope without love is self-centeredness; forgiveness without love is self-abasement; fortitude without love is recklessness; generosity without love is extravagance; care without love is mere duty; fidelity without love is servitude. Every virtue is an expression of love. No virtue is really a virtue unless it is permeated, or informed, by love.
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I believe that secularism is not the enemy of spirituality. Our spirits are in fact secular and free. But the enemy of your spirit is materialism which produces legalism. People scramble for the "perfect law" in order fix everything, while failing to see that law only points towards what is material. And so, people find themselves going around in a circle that will never end. The key is to break away from that circle. You have to begin focusing your attention onto what is inside you and what is inside everybody else. This will in turn produce common sense, intuition, and understanding. Then comes strength.
C. JoyBell C.
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On many occasions I have been asked if I think persecution will come to the Western church. My answer might surprise you. I believe that if you find yourself enslaved inside a controlling church structure of legalism and bondage, then you are already being persecuted! So many Christians seem impossibly distracted from hearing God's voice. Instead of listening to that still, small voice that brings true peace and joy, they blindly follow the voices of mainstream religion. The worst kind of persecution for a Christian is when you are separated from the joy and presence of the Holy Spirit.
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How do we stay on the narrow path of following God's will in every sphere of life? How do we maintain sure footing and not fall into the temptation of rebellion on one side, or the temptation of legalism on the other? God has not sent us out across a tightrope! Yes, the path is narrow, but on both sides of the path is a solid handrail, driven down deep into the rock. What has God given to us that we might not rebel against Him? He has given us His sufficient Word. What has God given us that we might not become legalists and elevate our words above His? He has given us His sufficient word.
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People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.
D. A. Carson
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