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Safety in Legalism

There is safety in Legalism.

Having specific rules, guidelines, patterns, and structure makes people feel comfortable:

Five acts of worship, five steps of salvation, Ten Commandments, five quick steps to fix your money problem, etc.

As humans, we love systems, rules, and order because there are clear lines between right and wrong, good and evil, and saved and lost.

One of the reasons why Jesus wasn’t born during the time of the Exodus is that the people weren’t ready for the type of freedom and liberation that He offers.

They needed a precise system with lists of rules, patterns, and regulation.

In the New Testament, Paul says that love is the fulfillment of the law. Jesus says that His commandments are to 1) love God with all your heart and 2) to love your neighbor as yourself.

The lists that we’ve made come from proof texts. There aren’t lists of commands in the New Testament like there were in the Old. There were lists for how the sacrifices were to be offered, how the tabernacle was arranged, what the priests ought to wear, and many other things.

In the New Testament, no such list exists. All of the lists and phrases we use (such as five acts of worship) are man made.

Instead, the lists in the New Testament are concerning qualities and not pattern theology: fruit of the spirit, love is…, beatitudes, etc. This makes us uncomfortable because there is more liberty in approaching life this way. Things aren’t as concrete or black and white, but the unity in Christ is not based upon conformity to a set of rules or doctrines but is based in mutual love for God and neighbor (1 Corinthians 8, Romans 14).

Paul says something very difficult:

Romans 14:5 (NAS): One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.

There is safety in legalism, but the Law came through Moses while grace and truth came through Jesus (John 1:17). The Law contained “truths” but knowing the Truth is not the same as knowing truths. Jesus is Truth (John 14:7). He, as the Word/ Logos, is Truth (John 17:17). It is Jesus that sets us free – not man-made doctrines that give the appearance of wisdom and religion. Those doctrines mainly serve to determine who is in and who is out.

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