Obedience vs. Legalism

scalesObedience

  • The quality or condition of being obedient.
  • The act or practice of obeying; dutiful or submissive compliance: Military service demands obedience from its members.
  • The trait of being willing to obey 
  • Conformity to a monastic rule or the authority of a religious superior, esp. on the part of one who has vowed such conformance.
  • Behavior intended to please your parents; "their children were never very strong on obedience"; "he went to law school out of respect for his father's wishes" 

Synonyms – submission, subservience, deference.

 

Legalism

  • Strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, esp. to the letter rather than the spirit.
  • The doctrine that salvation is gained through good works. 
  • The judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.

(All definitions taken from www.dictionary.com)

What does the Bible say?

Legalism is an often thrown about term by Christians today.  The slightest insistence that we must conform our lives to Christ in obedience and tempers flare.  But, what do the scriptures say?  Can we really say we have been saved, if our actions do not reflect our salvation?

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  James 1:22

If you love Me, keep My commandments.  John 14:5

Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  Acts 5:29

Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like:  He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.  And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.  But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell.  And the ruin of that house was great.  Luke 6:47-49

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.  Luke 16:10

We have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect.  Shall we not much more readily be in subject to the Father of spirits and live?  For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.  Hebrews 12:9, 10

The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.  1 John 2:17

Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness.  Ephesians 4:11

Legalism comes about when we do things for our glory, rather than out of love for our Heavenly Father.  As a child, we loved our parents, who disciplined us on occasion, aimed us in the direction to go and loved us.  Because we loved them, we tried to please our parents by doing as they asked of us.  It is the same in our relationship with God.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15

Remember…

It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  Galatians 2:20