Legalism In The Church: Right Behavior with Wrong Belief

Saved by Grace, but what about works?

Understanding legalism has truly been a life-changing  lesson for me.  I often re-visit this video to remind me that we are saved by Grace, and works are a result of our faith.  Works will accompany our salvation, if we truly have accepted Christ as Lord of our life.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

Faith alone will not save us… James 2:14-26 explains that faith without works is dead; that  even the demons “believe,” and they “tremble.”  So demons have faith and they feel the emotions of it, but the difference between their faith and ours is that we choose to act in turning from sin, and turning to God, which ultimately saves us.

IMPORTANT*  The works that  James 2:14-26 point out relate to acts of love (helping others in need, Abraham giving up his own son for God).  These works are the fruit our our faith, rather than self-centered, outward acts (how we look on the outside), but even “works of love,” alone, do not save us; as Ephesians 2:8-9 (above) clearly states.

My life before I came to Christ

Nun 2I grew up in a Christian home, and through my teen years, I was taught that if I practiced “holiness” on the outside, like not cutting my hair, or wearing pants, or makeup, or jewelry, it would prove my heart was right with God, and would secure my salvation.  However, when I grew old enough to govern my own life, I fell away from God, for twenty years, and although I made a nice life in the fitness industry, I was never fully at peace deep down in my soul.

How I came to a cognitive knowledge of Who Jesus is and what He did for me

The further I walked from God, the less I felt His hand over my life, and the worse my surroundings became.  After a marred marriage, a fallen business, and grown children, who lived without God, during the most influential years of their lives, I knew I needed God.  Not because my life was a mess, but because my soul was lost, and I finally understood it.  I had no real peace.  I already knew that since the fall of Adam, and Eve, we all live in a “fallen” state.  Romans 3:23 says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Because of our sinful nature, and the fact that we live short of the “glory” (perfection) God intended for humanity, the process of restoration begins with understanding we are lost.  I just did not understand that Jesus’ holy sacrifice was the only way to save us, and bring peace with God; not the unworthy sacrifices I made on a daily basis (Isaiah 64:6).  I finally realized all I needed to do was totally depend on HIM for salvation.  Once I realized His death, burial and resurrection was the only “holiness” work that could atone for our sins, I just had to accept it at face value, and ask Him forgive mine.

Circumstances surrounding my conversion

December 15, 2012 was my “one day;” the day I got on my knees, gave my life back to Christ, and pledged to live the rest of it serving Him.  I had never, before, felt such peace as I did that day.  In the weeks, and months that followed, I continued to build a relationship with Christ at home (in prayer, and studying the Bible).  God eventually lead our family to a church where I found other people, like me, who were not trying to prove their salvation on the outside, but who had truly been changed on the inside.

My spiritual growth from the time I accepted Christ to today

God is restoring what the locusts have eaten in my life (Joel: 2:25).  My children are going to church, and feeling God’s call to salvation.  My marriage has never been better, my husband has a great job, and I have never had a walk with the Lord like I do today.  Yes, I have had some struggles; people have hurt me regarding my walk with God, and I’m sure I have hurt others in my struggle to move past “learned behaviors.”  I have even wondered if I am truly walking with God because I wear pants, and makeup.  But God has used me to help others understand that salvation means believing, and building a close relationship with Him; not trying to look righteous for a God who stands way up in heaven, ready to strike.  He loved us enough to come down to our level, and die to save our souls.  I do not know what my future holds, but I know Who holds my future, and that is all I need!

people helping people.jpg

The Old Testament was full of ‘furniture’ but the lights were out.  Don’t stumble over the furniture; turn on the light of faith in Jesus Christ, and what He did.

Legalism 3

 Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM) lays out some simple guidelines from Romans Chapter 14, about Christians passing judgment on each other’s “non-essential” beliefs.  Disagreements are okay, but condemnation is not.

OT Laws

What the son has set free is free indeed.”  John 8:36

Legalism vs Grace

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