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Balancing The Christian Life


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#1 GraceSaved

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Posted 23 January 2014 - 11:30 PM

The word “legalism” does not occur in the Bible. It is a term Christians use to describe a doctrinal position emphasizing a system of rules and regulations for achieving both salvation and spiritual growth. Legalists believe in and demand a strict literal adherence to rules and regulations. Doctrinally, it is a position essentially opposed to grace. Those who hold a legalistic position often fail to see the real purpose for law, especially the purpose of the Old Testament law of Moses, which is to be our “schoolmaster” or “tutor” to bring us to Christ.

Even true believers can be legalistic. We are instructed, rather, to be gracious to one another: “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters” Sadly, there are those who feel so strongly about non-essential doctrines that they will run others out of their fellowship, not even allowing the expression of another viewpoint. That, too, is legalism. Many legalistic believers today make the error of demanding unqualified adherence to their own biblical interpretations and even to their own traditions. For example, there are those who feel that to be spiritual one must simply avoid tobacco, alcoholic beverages, dancing, movies, etc. The truth is that avoiding these things is no guarantee of spirituality.

The apostle Paul warns us of legalism in “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” Legalists may appear to be righteous and spiritual, but legalism ultimately fails to accomplish God’s purposes because it is an outward performance instead of an inward change.

To avoid falling into the trap of legalism, we can start by holding fast to the words of the apostle John, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” and remembering to be gracious, especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ. “Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand”. “You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat”.

A word of caution is necessary here. While we need to be gracious to one another and tolerant of disagreement over disputable matters, we cannot accept heresy. We are exhorted to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. If we remember these guidelines and apply them in love and mercy, we will be safe from both legalism and heresy.



#2 DaveW

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Posted 23 January 2014 - 11:38 PM

If someone comes into my home and uses swear words even though they know I don't like swear words, and I tell them to leave my home, am I a legalist?

#3 GraceSaved

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Posted 23 January 2014 - 11:50 PM

If someone comes into my home and uses swear words even though they know I don't like swear words, and I tell them to leave my home, am I a legalist?

It's your home.



#4 John81

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 08:05 AM

Reminds me of something an elderly lady from our church shared. One of her grandsons was back in the area for a visit and he was cussing and using very foul language as he talked. His Grandmother said something to him about it and he said that he's a Marine and that's how Marines talk. She informed him that she's his grandmother and she doesn't want to hear that language so he better not use it around her.

 

The young man stopped using such language when his grandmother was around.



#5 Alimantado

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 08:12 AM

Hi GraceSaved. Both this and your other essay are very good: they've certainly given me pause for thought. But as someone who has come to Christ with a very 'simple' faith--having not benefited from years of being taught in a church or Christian home--and has had to work through the doctrines one-by-one, with many still to get to, I've observed that there isn't just this dichotomy between the fundamentals (e.g.  and the deity of Christ) and the peripherals, which I think is what you end up implying. I think you ought to give examples of some doctrines/statements that you think churches are dividing over unecessarily. After all, if you can't identify any, doesn't that undermine your point about how obvious the fundamentals are?

 

One example: I've heard at least half-a-dozen people on this forum say that they wouldn't fellowship or stay in a church with people who had 'reformed' beliefs, e.g. total depravity etc. I've also been to churches that have said they accommodate a spectrum of views on that. Some say it isn't something to divide over, others say that those who hold to reformed doctrines 'worship a different Jesus' (that's a very popular phrase these days). What do you say about just that issue?



#6 candlelight

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 08:27 AM

Christians have standards in which we live by.  Legalism, as I think you mentioned, is according to law.  And, we know that no one is capable of living a life according to the law.

 

Conviction is key here.  Not all Christians are convicted of the same thing.  As Christians we should be able to live a life based on standards.

As for alcohol, the Bible is clear on abstaining from it.  There are 240 texts in the KJV that use the word wine.  135 texts use grape juice.  105 of these texts speak of alcoholic booze.  The mention of not drinking alcoholic beverages begins in the O.T.  A perfect example of this is where God is talking to priests.

 

"Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die:  it shall be, a statue for ever throughout your generations:  And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean." ~ Leviticus 10:9-10  

A deep study of the KJV will reveal the other 104 texts that talk about abstaining from wine and strong drink.
 



#7 John81

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 08:41 AM

Sometimes we to easily look for excuses to separate, divide, debate and argue; even to the point of accusing some of our brothers/sisters in Christ of not being a part of the family.

 

Along with this we ignore why we should love our brothers/sisters in Christ, why we should share their burdens and seek to edify them with all love, meekness and kindness.

 

Sometimes we quickly quote separation verses and then go to extremes with separation. Meanwhile we overlook the commands to love one another, be ye kind one to another.

 

There are times for separation, whether partial or total. Even at such times, this should be done in gentleness and with humility.

 

We need to give more heed to the command to love one another and be kind to one another. Even if a brother/sister in Christ attends a church we wouldn't (or we attend one they wouldn't) we can still love them and show kindness.  



#8 candlelight

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 08:52 AM

I agree with you, John.  However, I don't tolerate alcohol.  Unfortunately, I have to live with it in my home along with swearing, as well.  We live with my brother, and have to put up with his smoking (outside the house), drinking and swearing.  I have learned to ignore it b/c I don't believe he got saved when I thought he did.  Also, he isn't abusive.  However, as for Christians, many will say that drinking alcohol is okay.  God says no to alcohol, though.  I will take an opportunity like this, to inform the believer that alcohol isn't okay.  It never has been.  Even before I knew God's Word, I knew it was wrong b/c it has caused so many deaths, divorces and a plethora of other wrongs in our society.  It is an evil which people believe is harmless, but it isn't harmless.  It is sneaky and ruins lives.  Unfortunately, it is socially acceptable in our society.  I have acquaintances from high school that still go to the clubs to party.  I don't understand it b/c I would think they have grown up by now.  *shaking head*     



#9 John81

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 09:07 AM

I certainly wouldn't condone a Christians drinking, nor would I attend an event with them where there would be drinking. I once took a lot of heat from my family for not attending a family wedding reception of a couple who claimed to be Christians but were having their reception at a hotel with an open bar.

 

Prior to the wedding reception several family members kept trying to convince me to attend by saying there wouldn't be much drinking, nothing would be going on that would set a bad example for my children, people having a couple of drinks won't even be noticed, and that sort of thing.

 

As I said, we didn't attend. After the reception all anyone in the family talked about was how much some people drank, how some started dancing after they got drunk, how many got drunk, who couldn't drive home but ended up having to get a room at the hotel.

 

Anyway, I'm friendly with Christians I know who drink, but I won't condone their drinking and I won't be around them if they are drinking.



#10 candlelight

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 09:22 AM

I have passed up many family weddings for second cousins b/c there was drinking involved.  I just send a gift in the mail.  Also, I have never gone to a class reunion for the same reason.  Sadly, when a first cousin passed on there was drinking in the RCC basement.  My husband and I were shocked.  We had never heard of that before.  I don't know if they got a permit or what.

Many people, from work, did not attend my wedding in 2000 b/c we didn't serve alcohol. However, all four of my bridesmaids are unsaved.  They started their own little party outside of the reception hall with my husband's first cousin.  He went to the liquor store prior to the wedding and had an open bar on the back of his pickup truck.  Thinking back, I should have asked my IFB church sisters in Christ to be in my wedding,  However, I did not know them well at that time.  I also thought that by having my unsaved friends in the wedding party, might plant seeds with them and bring them to Christ.  Not knowing, at this time, that I wasn't even saved myself.  I have had no contact with these women for years.  

I saddens me that many in the world know the evils of alcohol, yet Christians try to condone it.  This sends a bad message to the unbeliever.  I like being set apart from the world, and the fact that God says no to alcohol is just fine with me. 


Edited by candlelight, 24 January 2014 - 09:23 AM.


#11 John81

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 09:29 AM

I've not attended any of my class reunions as they have all be centered around drinking.

 

An RCC church in a small city near here gets a permit every summer to serve alcohol at their all day party that's held inside and outside the church. If the police wanted to, but they don't for some reason, they could simply sit across the road from that church on that day and pick up dozens of legally drunk drivers.

 

It saddens me to see so many youth from Christian families go off to college and get caught up in the drinking and partying. One can really see the difference on their Facebook pages. When they leave for college the pictures and posts are decent. After being in college for awhile one starts noticing pictures with people holding booze, and eventually they themselves are holding booze in some of the pictures. And for the girls, this is usually also accompanied by a change to wearing immodest or even very immodest clothing.

 

How can they even post such pictures knowing their family, pastor, church family and anyone else will be seeing these? It seems it doesn't matter anymore and so many parents, and even some pastors, accept such as "normal college behavior".

 

Well, that certainly shouldn't be normal for any professing Christian!



#12 candlelight

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 09:42 AM

I've not attended any of my class reunions as they have all be centered around drinking.

 

An RCC church in a small city near here gets a permit every summer to serve alcohol at their all day party that's held inside and outside the church. If the police wanted to, but they don't for some reason, they could simply sit across the road from that church on that day and pick up dozens of legally drunk drivers.

 

It saddens me to see so many youth from Christian families go off to college and get caught up in the drinking and partying. One can really see the difference on their Facebook pages. When they leave for college the pictures and posts are decent. After being in college for awhile one starts noticing pictures with people holding booze, and eventually they themselves are holding booze in some of the pictures. And for the girls, this is usually also accompanied by a change to wearing immodest or even very immodest clothing.

 

How can they even post such pictures knowing their family, pastor, church family and anyone else will be seeing these? It seems it doesn't matter anymore and so many parents, and even some pastors, accept such as "normal college behavior".

 

Well, that certainly shouldn't be normal for any professing Christian!

I haven't for the same reason, John.  I saw pictures of the last reunion, a year ago, and everyone had a drink in their hand.  You could tell, by the pictures, that most of them were drunk.  

Oh, yeah, the RCC in my hometown has a huge turnout in the summer for a church festival.  The beer truck comes in and people are drunk before the night even begins.  We were just shocked that they served alcohol, in the church basement, at this funeral.  Both of us grew up in the RCC, and attended many funerals.  This was a first for both of us.

Sadly, many Christian colleges are now permitting alcohol on the campuses.  These youth go away to Christian college and forget all they have been taught.  

It is amazing what one will find on Facebook.  I am shocked at some of the things that Christians post on their Timeline.   



#13 AVBibleBeliever

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 09:45 AM

GraceSaved,

 

 “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”

 

Could you please state which version this is?

 

Not being a legalist or anything just wanting to know.

 

Mine reads this way

 

Col 2:20-23 (AV) Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not;  Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?   Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

 

you do know the "since you died" (past tense) and "If ye be dead"(present tense) are two differnt statements and mean two differnt things?

 

Rudiments can and does represent basic principles but it has a broader meaning of basic elements, and also fundementals.  You can have a basic principle without it being fundemental.

 

Subject can mean submit, but it to has a broader meaning Place under, situate under, under the power or dominion of another, to be exposed to, liable to.  While submit means to lower, sink down, lower down, to resign, to yield, and surrender. while submit could be used as a synonim of Subject it has some wholey different meanings and can change the context.

 

Can you not see that the context of Col 2 is not about legalism at all.  Verse 16-23 are the conclusion of Paul to the previous statments starting at verse one.

 

Did you not notice that the translation you quoted shortened Paul's question at do not touch?  and created a statement out of the rest of the question at doctrines of men? 

 

I can see though reading this newer translation where you could get the idea of Col 2 being about legalism and after comparing the two sets of verses and the two chapters of the AV and the version you are using (assumiong it is NKJV) together I can see how the translation changes the context.

 

Are you telling me you cannot read and understand the AV text as it stands?

 

did you not read the doctinal statement of this site and agreed too them when you signed up?  Because you don't agree with the second one that is for sure.


Edited by AVBibleBeliever, 24 January 2014 - 10:04 AM.


#14 OLD fashioned preacher

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 10:00 AM

GraceSaved, just a note from the Online Baptist rules: 3) Feel free to quote the Bible, if you do we ask that you use the KJV. This is done to avoid confusion.

The Administrators and Moderators of this site believe that the KJV is Gods preserved Word for the English speaking people, and we ask that you respect that and use the KJV when quoting scripture.



#15 AVBibleBeliever

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 10:03 AM

GraceSaved, just a note from the Online Baptist rules: 3) Feel free to quote the Bible, if you do we ask that you use the KJV. This is done to avoid confusion.

The Administrators and Moderators of this site believe that the KJV is Gods preserved Word for the English speaking people, and we ask that you respect that and use the KJV when quoting scripture.

 

You do understand that GraceSaved couldn't get that teaching of his if he used the AV?



#16 OLD fashioned preacher

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 10:07 AM

You do understand that GraceSaved couldn't get that teaching of his if he used the AV?

I don't know what your point is but I was addressing his violating OB rule #3. Everything in my post to him that follows the colon in the first sentence is a direct C/P quote of the rule.



#17 AVBibleBeliever

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 10:26 AM

I don't know what your point is but I was addressing his violating OB rule #3. Everything in my post to him that follows the colon in the first sentence is a direct C/P quote of the rule.

my point is he had to paste the other version in violation the the doctrinal Statement of the site and the C/P in order to teach that Col 2 20-23 means legalism.


Edited by AVBibleBeliever, 24 January 2014 - 10:29 AM.


#18 GraceSaved

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 12:51 PM

Colossians refers to the OT law.  What is legalism today?  Excessive conformity to a religious code that restricts free choice.  Dress, type of music, church activity, spiritual disciplines.  This is just a band-aid and do nothing to attack the real problem of a sinful heart tempted to trust ourselves through laws and rules. We are not subject to fundamental principles.  Christianity is not a list of do's and don'ts.  It is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.



#19 GraceSaved

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 12:51 PM

GraceSaved, just a note from the Online Baptist rules: 3) Feel free to quote the Bible, if you do we ask that you use the KJV. This is done to avoid confusion.

The Administrators and Moderators of this site believe that the KJV is Gods preserved Word for the English speaking people, and we ask that you respect that and use the KJV when quoting scripture.

This is legalism.



#20 GraceSaved

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 12:54 PM

GraceSaved,

 

you do know the "since you died" (past tense) and "If ye be dead"(present tense) are two differnt statements and mean two differnt things?

 

 

Dead = adjective

Died = verb

 

If you are now dead then at some point you died.  How is the meaning changed?






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