God Demands Legalism
In our world today, this term is used in a derogatory way.
But is it really?

Ever since the garden of Eden when Eve ate the forbidden fruit and gave to her husband to eat, things have remained the same.
The majority of people in this world choose not to obey God.
They want to do what they want to do.
When someone has the audacity to tell them they are in sin for doing so, the retort is usually something like “You’re just a legalist”.
And this is not spoken in a kind manner.
The dictionary defines “legalism” as strict adherence to the law.
In every segment of our society this is expected and enforced.
Yet, when it comes to religious practice, people choose not to follow the laws of God.
They want to feel secure in their salvation but they do not want to follow all those rules.
Since legalism is strict adherence to the law, then a legalist would be one who strictly adheres to the law.

You are a legalist:
If you stop at a traffic signal that is red.
If you stop at a stop sign.
If you follow the directions on the box.
If you play a game according to the rules.

How comfortable would you be if the pharmacist changed the prescription the doctor prescribed for you?
Would it be acceptable for the pharmacist to take a look at you and decide you are overweight and give you a double measure?
If you were skinny, if the pharmacist decided you did not need so much medicine?
What if the pharmacist substituted a different medicine from what the doctor prescribed?
Not only would it be illegal, it could kill you.

In the New Testament days, Publicans (or Tax-Collectors) were despised.
Most of them kept changing the amount of what people actually owed (and they usually took a portion for themselves).
People who did not give in and pay what was demanded of them were thrown into prison.
Would we accept any extra taxes other than what we really owed?
Would we consider it fair if our neighbor was given a lower tax rate just because they were friends with the tax-collector?

A problem in our society is that people are not treated fairly and equally.
There are several factors that contribute to this and it is wrong.
Skin color is a problem.
Social and financial status is a problem.
Culture and religion are the cause of a problem with many.
Let’s face it, we demand legalism just about everywhere.
Except when it comes to serving God.

How do you think God feels concerning those who choose to ignore His commands and do their own thing?
Usually, what others mean when they call us legalists is different from what the dictionary teaches us.
They usually mean that we are establishing our own rules in order to get to heaven, and when we demand those rules upon others, we become legalists.

Let’s See What God Says:
Genesis 2:16 “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.“
Adam and Eve learned the consequences of dis-obeying that command.
We also must learn there are consequences if we dis-obey God.
Deuteronomy 4:1-2,5-6 "Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you. 2 "You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you”.
5 "Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. 6 Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”
Deuteronomy 6:1-3 "Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, 2 "that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 "Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you-'a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Deuteronomy 8:1-2 "Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers. 2 And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not”.
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?
Deuteronomy 11:13-16 “And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. 15 And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled. 16 "Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them”,
Deuteronomy 12:32 "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it”.
Deuteronomy 26:16 "This day the LORD your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul”.
Deuteronomy 31:9-12 “So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. 10 And Moses commanded them, saying: "At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law,”

God Still Commands Legalism
But, these were commands given to the Israelites by Moses all those years ago.
And you teach that we are no longer under those laws but under a different system called grace.
Since we are under grace, why do we have to obey the commandments of God so carefully?
The answer is because God commands us to keep His commandments.
Jesus taught:
Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven”.
John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments”.
Matthew 28:20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.”

Are the words of Jesus important?
These ought to be a sufficient number of verses that should impress upon us and everyone that doing God’s will is a duty of every person.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all”.
So why do people charge us with legalism in a derogatory way?

Should not the label of “legalist” be a badge of honor?
Their problem is that they have chosen to turn away from the truth of God’s word and practice the doctrines and precepts of men.
Whether they follow other men or make up their own rules, they are not following God’s rules.
And somehow, I think that down deep, many of them know they are wrong, but ignore that feeling.

We should seek to keep all of God’s commandments.
We should be proud to be called a legalist.
Those who do not obey God will be separated from Him forever as we read in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 “These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,”
Are you making an effort to become a legalist?

By Carey Scott

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