Summary: This message reveals how seeing the Christian live as obedience to rules often makes us legalistic judgmental, and loveless like the Pharisees but love for Christ because of the grace he shows us makes us obedient because we want to please Him.

  Study Tools
  Study Tools



Copyright 2004 by Bob Marcaurelle

Revised 2016 by Bob Marcaurelle

web homeorchurchbiblestudy,com bob marcaurelle Anderson, sc



(1 Timothy1:6-17)

Legalism or Love?

Many evangelical teachers are making the Christian life optional by "taking turning from sin" out of repentance and saying Jesus can be our Savior without being our Lord and master. It is refreshing to see those who agree that living the Christ-like life is essential, that it is the proof of being born again (James 2:14ff)

The question is, what they mean by Christian living. There was a difference of opinion in Ephesus as there is today. One is to make a lot of rules and use the legalistic approach, with fear as a motive. This is evident today not only in some Pentecostal denominations but is some Evangelical churches. The other approach is to give the example of Christ as our standard and use the love approach, with gratitude, and a little fear as a motive.

Truth on both sides

Folks, there is truth on both sides. Before we Baptists criticize our Pentecostal brothers and sisters, we’d better take a look at the way we stress grace and have thrown godly standards out the window.

A lady joined our church because her husband had a long standing affair, eventually married his lover and both of them kept right on singing in the choir during the whole filthy episode. The wife joined our church because she could not take seeing them in the choir every Sunday. Folks, that church needed a little holy discipline. A little “legalism” would have done it a world of Good.”

At the close of the 1900’s the George Barna survey said people who regularly attend mainline churches are little different from their un-churched neighbors morally and ethically.


1:6-7 (CEV)

“They want to be teachers of the Law (of Moses). But they don’t know what they are talking about, even though they think they do.”


“We know that the Law is good if it is used properly. We also know the law is not made for the good (righteous), but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers- and for whatever else is contrary to sound (healthy) teaching that conforms to the gospel of the blessed God, which He entrusted to me.

Legalists say the church should make God’s laws mandatory for church members and in some way force them to obey. Paul, who tried living like this as a Pharisee, said they did not know what they were talking about. He himself was an example of the failure of the Law to make him a loving person. Why?

1) It majors on fear and even though there is a place for healthy fear in the life of a Christian. God wants us to serve Him because we want to and because we love Him.

2) It produces guilt and doubt. If obeying rules is proof of being a Christian, we can never know if we are “obeying enough”. All of us fall short of being like Jesus. With obedience to laws as the test of salvation we can never be sure of our salvation and we live in constant guilt, doubt and fear. In fact, this is the main purpose for the law. God uses this guilt and fear to bring us to Him for salvation.

3) It is for evil people (8-11). The law shows us our sins. It is God’s laws for bad people that helps society stay safe from their criminal acts. It is God’s laws for bad people that shows them their sins and hopefully produces enough guilt to lead them to seek forgiveness from Christ.

4) It produces loveless pride. Guilt, fear and doubt causes the legalist to draw lines he can reach and have peace. He says, “I don’t cuss and I don’t chew, and I don’t go with girls who do.”

5) This hinders Christian growth, because the rule keeper feels he is doing what he is supposed to. The Rich Young Ruler told Jesus he had obeyed the Law, but in fact, right then he was breaking the first two commandments. He loved his money more than God and he put his money above God. He’d rather go to hell than give up his money. (Mark 10:17f.) By the way, he came to Christ of find "eternal life" (salvation- 1 Jn. 2) and Christ told him he had to turn from the sin of loving money). Of course, true repentance means he comes acknowledging that he cannot do this and asking God to give him the desire and the power to do it.

Download Sermon With PRO View On One Page With PRO
Talk about it...

Nobody has commented yet. Be the first!

Join the discussion