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

 

Obedience to YHWH’s Will

ObedienceOBEDIENCE

 

Dying to our will,

Living for YHWH’s will

 

 

"The true follower of Christ will not ask, "If I embrace this truth, what will it cost me?" Rather he will say, "This is truth. God help me to walk in it, let come what may!""  – A. W. Tozer

 

"The cross is laid on every Christian. It begins with the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with His death… we give over our lives to death. Since this happens at the beginning of the Christian life, the cross can never be merely a tragic ending to an otherwise happy religious life. When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow Him, or it may be a death like Luther's, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time… death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at His call. That is why the rich young man was so loath to follow Jesus, for the cost of his following was the death of his will. In fact, every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts. But we do not want to die, and therefore Jesus Christ and His call are necessarily our death and our life."  –  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

"We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed."  –  Brother Lawrence

 

"The man that believes will obey; failure to obey is convincing proof that there is no true faith present. To attempt the impossible God must give faith or there will be none, and He gives faith to the obedient heart only."  –  A. W. Tozer

 

"The chief thing is, not to know what God has said we must do, but that God Himself says it to us. It is not the law, and not the book, not the knowledge of what is right, that works obedience, but the personal influence of God and His living fellowship. It is only in the full presence of God that disobedience and unbelief become impossible."  –  Andrew Murray

 

"Before we look at how we make Jesus Lord, we need to see what it is we mean when we talk about lordship. To make Jesus Lord of our life means to surrender control of every area of our life to Him. We come under His authority. His authority is supreme over our authority. We start taking orders from Him – we do what He tells us to do. That's what lordship is – Christ reigning as supreme authority over our life. Making Jesus Lord of our life is not something passive. It's not a state of being, it's a state of doing. Those whom Jesus recognizes as His own are those who do the will of His Father in heaven."  –  Keith Green

 

"What is meant by "follow"? To follow signifies that the way I tread and the place where I go are all decided by someone else. We are following the Lord; therefore we have no authority to decide our own path. The body in its relation to the Head can only obey and follow. If we wish to live out the life of the body of Christ we must cover our own head; that is to say, we must not have our personal opinion, egoistic will or selfish thought. We can only obey the Lord and let Him be the Head."  –  Watchman Nee

 

Prince of Peace, Control My Will

I love this hymn, written by Mary Ann Serrett Barber circa 1801.  A beautiful prayer put to music.  Some of her poem was not used in the hymn.  

 

Prince of Peace, control my will;
Bid the struggling heart be still;
Bid my fears and doubtings cease,
Hush my spirit into peace.

Thou hast bought me with Thy blood,
Opened wide the gate to God;
Peace I ask, but peace must be,
Lord, in being one with Thee.

May Thy will, not mine, be done;
May Thy will and mine be one;
Chase these doubtings from my heart,
Now Thy perfect peace impart.

Savior, at Thy feet I fall,
Thou my life, my God, my all;
Let Thy happy servant be
One forevermore with Thee!