Legalism And Christianity

Legalism And Christianity

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I. Introduction
Christians have a tendency to judge each other and non-Christians over minor details in life that will mean nothing in the end, or hold each other accountable to a man made, unreasonable and almost impossible standard, or try to live by (and make others live by) the laws of the Old Testament which are no longer relevant. This has been going on since close to the beginning of time and is one of the less popular and more annoying traits of humanity…or Christianity. If we want to draw unbelievers in we have to be open and not as judgmental as we have been in the past and not have a "holier than thou" attitude. "Keep in mind that the book of Galatians was not written by Paul to lost people, telling them how to be saved. It was written to people who had already received the Holy Spirit. Paul was angry with these baby Christians because they were trying to live out the Christian life by keeping the law!" (
II. Biblical Perspective
A. Old Testament
In the old testament, mainly in Leviticus and then again in Deuteronomy, God lays out a vast number of laws for his people to follow. Some people, today, still take all of these laws and apply them to their everyday lives, but what they don't understand is that God established these laws for a reason. The laws were simply God, protecting the Jews from themselves. They didn't have the knowledge that we have today about hygienic or medical issues, and therefore would have unknowingly killed themselves, had God not given them these laws. Another problem with this is that a lot of these laws have to do with making sacrifices (animal and grain) and most people today don't make sacrifices, but live by other laws in he old testament. There is a lack of consistency in this lifestyle and belief system.
B. New Testament
In the book of Galatians, Paul writes to the churches in Galatia. Throughout most of this book he is talking about how we are no longer bound by the old laws. One case in which people do not take this into consideration is with animal sacrifices. In some Pagan countries such as Haiti, sacrifices are still made as an offering of atonement for sins and shortcomings.

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However as stated in the New Testament, Jesus was the ultimate and final sacrifice. When he was crucified and the curtain to the temple was ripped in two, it opened the door for anyone to talk to god directly instead of through a priest, as symbolized by Jesus' exclamation "It is finished." on the cross, the law had been fulfilled and we no longer need to make animal sacrifices.

While animal sacrificing is still an issue in some places, there are other issues concerning the laws of the Old Testament most everywhere world over. Take for instance confessing ones sins to a priest or only eating some kinds of meat or certain, other foods. As aforementioned a third party is no longer needed for a person to be forgiven of their sins by god. The New Testament clearly states that we are now free to eat whatever we want because everything is from God. (1 Cor. 10:25-26 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it.") These things are clearly cases of either pure ignorance to these subjects or deliberately ignoring clear references in the New Testament to the fulfillment of these laws or old covenant.
C. What The Bible Actually Says About…
a. Alcohol
There are so many Christians today who get hung up on things in the Bible or stipulations set by man. One big ticket item is the consumption of alcohol. Lots of people are committed to the philosophy of total abstinence from alcohol, thinking that the ingestion of any and all alcohol is a sin. Nowhere in the Bible is this theory ratified or even suggested. In fact, Jesus, himself drank wine and provided wine for other people. The Bible says not to be drunk (Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.); it does not say not to drink.
b. Music
Another thing that Christians tend to have lots of rules about and be strict about is music. A lot of Christians won't listen to anything except so-called "Christian" music and pass judgment on others for listening to anything different. While others won't listen to any kind of rock n' roll music and say that it's from the devil, even if it's done by a "Christian" band they say that no one who does that kind of music could be a Christian.
First of all, what really defines "Christian" music? You could say that if the artist is a Christian the music is Christian. But then not all of their songs are necessarily about God so is only part of their music Christian and the other part secular? Or you could say that if their music is about God it's Christian music, but there are some secular artist who have written songs about God before. It all depends on how you look at it, and it's a very debatable subject.
Then there's the issue of rock music. What defines this style of music? I think it's pretty easy to categorize music styles based on the sound and there's nothing wrong with that but when we start deciding what music we can and can't listen to based on the sound or what instruments are played, that's going too far and is just ridiculous. In the Bible it says to praise the Lord with all kinds of instruments. (Psalms 150:3-5 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.) It never mentions any different styles of music, but if it was important to God he would have said something about it.
III. Modern Perspective
Legalism is still a pressing issue in the world of modern Christianity. And Legalist don't just hold their rules above other people, they, themselves, try to live by those same standards. "I've developed my own simple definition after years of struggling with my own legalistic tendencies. I believe that legalism is trying to attain or maintain rightness (righteousness) with God by human effort." (
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