Legalism, Godliness or Legalism

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. I Timothy 6:3-6

To properly understand this, one would need to know what the definitions of certain terms are.

Legalism: The doctrine that salvation is gained through good works.

Godliness: Conforming to the laws and wishes of God.

     Many years ago I belonged to an old fashion church, being young in the faith I did not realize the problems the church had, until it raised its ugly head. It was not until I got in the way when I saw a church that was hurting and in need of godly healing.

Some of the things I saw were in the form of:

• Husbands being controlled by the pastor
• Families having such a self righteous and judgmental attitudes
• The pastor controlling whole families
• Church leadership spanking children against the will of the parent.
• Women feeling unloved by their husbands and fearing to say anything about it. One lady even tried suicide.
• Children seeing the hypocrisy and eventually leaving the church and Christianity as a whole. And the list goes on.

     I really got burnt from that and it took a couple of years for me to recover from it. I realized that I was blaming God for what someone did that was out of balance. As I grew I started seeing what God wanted out of his church.
At the same time one needs to see how many people will call following Christ a form of legalism, so hope and pray that I can show what is Godliness and what is compromise.
      The scriptures are very clear that we are to live in the world but not be of it. In fact when true revival breaks out from a wicked generation, like Ephesus (Acts 19:19) there are things God’s people are going to get rid of.
There are some who came out of a church split and have never recovered from the bitterness and tend to express themselves in a way that if anybody challenged anything that could be labeled Legalism.

The following is a number of concerns about church that for some have been labeled a Cult or Legalism.

Banning what some believe to be inappropriate, like the T.V. certain movies and music.
Understand that the media’s main purpose in this life is to desensitize the public from believing in absolutes to situational ethics. Years ago speaker Josh McDowell reported that over 92% of church active youth do not believe in absolute truth, a large part of that is from what they watch, and listen to. Just recently our family watched the pilot episode of Daniel Boone with Fess Parker and we were amazed of the references to the Lord and the Bible. That was the mind set at a time when the Bible was still in many schools. So whatever the TV promotes so goes the nation when it should be God’s people.

Preach against Alcohol and Tobacco

It is sad that I even have to address this issue. The Bible tells us that

“Wine is a mocker and strong drink is raging and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Proverbs 20:1

My father was an alcoholic and it contributed to the destruction of our family (They divorced when I was 10) and still effects our family today.

Teachings dress codes
     Personally I am against dress codes because it does not deal with the individual heart even though it has it’s place from time to time. I would hope if a young lady walked into a church with a T-back on that people would feel offended, that being the case where do you draw the line concerning it? Does God have something to say about it? The foundation of this issue can be found in Deuteronomy 22:5 which God strongly commands that there be a distinction in clothing between a man and a woman. In my mother’s day when she went to public school, all women wore dresses and there was no dress code. It was because ladies always wore dresses. This came because of the influence the Bible had in the school.

Promoting political ideals in the church
     Before and after our nation won it’s independence and up until this last generation, God’s people always wanted to hear what their pastor/minister thought which candidate lined up under scripture. Now today we are reduce to the choosing of the lesser of two evils. Read what John Jay who was the first Chief Justice of the United States had to say on the subject.
      Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.

Using the Bible as a weapon in order to intimidate and control the congregation.
      God’s word is the foundation of a Born Again believer. I Corinthians 3:11 and Proverbs 21:30 reveal to us that there is no wisdom, understanding or counsel that is contrary to God’s word. Years ago a pastor used to say how the Bible tells us that if a woman shows her thigh she is a harlot. After hearing it several times I decided to read it for myself. To my dismay I could not find it and when I approached the pastor to get the reference he too could not find it. Sometime later I did find it but it refers to both. (Isaiah 47:2&3.)
      I do believe there are pastors out there that do manipulate the bible to control their flocks but that happens when God’s people namely the men of the church fail to be the spiritual leaders and Bereans (Acts 17:11) to keep their leaders accountable to the word of God.

Elders in the church violating their jurisdiction concerning the families in the church.
      I have seen both sides of the issue where a pastor refuses to take a stand and tells the men to go home and decide what they think they should do concerning a subject. Then I have seen where a pastor and even elders violate their jurisdiction and make rules concerning the family. One even involved not allowing a brother play volleyball with his sister (one on one). Maybe they need to read I Timothy 5:1&2. I do not support any contact sport involving both genders touching or violating one’s air space, but when it come to brother or sister that belongs for the dad to deal with. I personally believe that the spirit of what God’s word says concerning this is that a pastor/minister needs to show from scripture concerning a subject to his people and take a stand, but the final decision has got to be left between each family and the Lord.

In Conclusion

The danger in all of this is when we as God’s children give up in striving to live Godly lives. Paul saw the same problem in his day when he wrote to the Christians at Rome.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1&2

The real issue for each believer is who will control our lives? Us or God?

You may be reading this and you have never answered the most important question in your life and that is …

How does anyone get to heaven?

First realize that they cannot get to heaven on their own merits. The Bible says that “For all have sinned and come short (that means everybody can’t get to Heaven on their own) of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)

Jesus Christ (who is the Son of the living God) came to earth and was born of a virgin woman (therefore he was not born of the curse of mankind) he lived a sinless life and died on a cross for all the sins in the world. Three days later, God the Father raised Him from the dead. He was seen of 500 witnesses and returned to heaven. God’s word says that if we believe these things and call upon the Lord, we will be saved. Romans 10:9 - 13