Summary: God's grace is not a license to sin but a reason to serve Jesus with reckless abandon…not because we have to, but because we get to. (Greg Stier)
The Heresy of Legalism
April 12, 2015 Morning Service
Immanuel Baptist Church, Wagoner, OK
Message Point: God's grace is not a license to sin but a reason to serve Jesus with reckless abandon…not because we have to, but because we get to. (Greg Stier)
Focus Passage: Colossians 2:16-23
Supplemental Passage: "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (John 14:15 NASB)
Introduction: Legalists are tricky creatures. They slither in the side doors of churches, sign up to lead Bible studies and fill the minds of once joyous believers with rules and requirements of what it "really means" to become a Christian. Ask them how a person is saved and they'll say, "By grace of course" and then they'll roll out a scroll across the floor full of checklists to prove your salvation and prerequisites you must abide by in order to receive this "free gift" of grace.
Here are 10 ways to spot a legalist in your church:
1) They cheapen grace by focusing on what we must do rather than on what Christ has done.
2) They'll say non-sensical things like, "Salvation is free but it will cost you everything you have."
3) They are "fruit inspectors" and hypothesize how much spiritual fruit a person must produce in order to truly be saved.
4) They focus on things like turning, trying and crying instead of faith alone in Christ alone for salvation.
5) Their "gospel" could never be falsely accused of being a license to sin (like Paul's was in Romans 3:8!)
6) They scare others with assertions that, if you preach too much grace, people will run amok.
7) They conveniently avoid or mis-exegete large portions of gospel-centric New Testament books like Galatians, Romans and John.
8) They blend justification passages with sanctification passages and then try to get us to drink a heresy smoothie.
9) They bake the same works-based righteousness cake that Mormons and Muslims do but cover it with evangelical frosting.
10) They use the phrase, "You mean to tell me…" a lot. Then they create worst case salvation scenarios of those who claim to be Christians but abuse the grace of God. "You mean to tell me that someone can be saved and still….?"
I. Legalism to Gain Salvation
a. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB)
b. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, (Romans 4:5 NASB)
c. "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly." (Galatians 2:21 NASB)
d. It is simply not possible to keep the Law enough to be saved.
II. Legalism to Keep Salvation
a. F or all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." (Galatians 3:10-11 ESV)
b. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. (James 2:10 NASB)
c. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” Jesus condemns them because they were appealing to their salvation based on their faith and doing good. (Matt. 7:22-23)
III. Legalism to Judge Others
a. All Christians are to abstain from fornication, adultery, pornography, lying, stealing, etc.
b. Christians do have a right to judge the spirituality of other Christians in these areas where the Bible clearly speaks.
c. in the debatable areas we need to be more careful
d. Rom. 14:1-12 says that we are not to judge our brothers on debatable issues. One person may eat certain kinds of foods where another would not. One person might worship on a particular day where another might not. We are told to let each person be convinced in his own mind (Rom. 14:5).
e. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13 NASB)
Application/Invitation: In what areas do you judge people without mercy? What if they judged you that way? Confess areas of sin in your own life and allow the Holy Spirit to convict others of their sin. There is a difference of proclaiming God’s truth about sin in general and pointing a finger at someone and telling them they are going to Hell because they are a gossip.