SIN OF LEGALISM

Legalism is alive and well in churches today, and none of us are immune from its ways.

At the root of legalism is selfishness and pride.  Legalism feeds the selfish nature.  The legalist relies on willpower to do rightly, believing this pleases God and earns His favor.  This makes sense to our mind, but it is not the way God measures value.  We all need to be very thankful for that!

Legalism is appealing.  We like it because it appeals to our self-reliant nature, but self-reliance is antithetical to all that Christianity stands for.  The Gospel condemns our acts of righteousness.  Our righteousness leaves a stench to God.

It is not because we cannot do anything that is good.  It is because anything we do that is good is tainted by a wicked, glory-hungry, heart.  All our attempts at goodness are tainted by sin.

This gets to the heart of legalism.  The problem is motive; our actions are not enough.  Motive is essential.  Even Jesus said follow what the Pharisees teach, but do not live like they do (Matt 23:3).  The Pharisees did good works by following the law, but their motives were impure.

Everything the legalist does in the name of God, feeds their hunger to gain value.  And that is the problem.  It is impossible for man to earn enough value to be found worthy of God’s standard (Rom 3:23).

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for being clean on the outside but rotten on the inside.  It’s all about the heart, the motive behind what we do.  When Christ has transformed our lives by the Gospel, we have a new heart, a new motive, that looks to honor God.  Christ becomes the motivating factor of our actions.  The Christian desires to give glory to God through his actions.  The legalist desires to give glory to self by their actions.

Legalism is alive and well today and takes many forms.  From style of music to versions of the Bible to facial hair to dress. It’s vital that churches preach the importance of relationship and not rules, that Jesus is exalted and not man, that grace abounds and not works-righteousness.  It is the call of the Church to safeguard the Gospel from anything that lessens the centrality of Jesus.

WHAT OTHER RELIGIONS SAY ABOUT JESUS

As I read Scripture it is evident that the central crux of  faith is Jesus Christ. Everything we believe is based on the revelation of Him. We know Jesus is someone recognized even outside of Christianity. He made such an impact that most  religions have something to say about him. Is Jesus central to their faith? Let’s look:

1) ISLAM- Isa Ibn Maryam is known as Jesus in the New Testament and is considered a messenger of God. Jesus was born of the virgin Mary according to the Qur’an. Jesus was not killed on the cross but raised up to Heaven by God. Jesus considered himself Muslim and taught the straight way. He is not the greatest prophet, that accolade going to Muhammed. Jesus is not considered God but a prophet of God.

2) HINDUISM- Ishu, who was born in a cowshed, was visited by three holy men, performed many amazing miracles, walked on water and spoke a wonderful sermon on a mountain. Ishu being Jesus in Hinduism. Jesus is seen as much more, as an Avatar, specifically a Shaktavesha Avatar or an empowered incarnation. This means that God has sent Jesus for a specific mission to fulfill God’s will on earth. They believe that Jesus was murdered but he did not resurrect but reincarnated. Jesus is not considered God but an Avatar.

3) JUDAISM- Yeshua was one of many false messiahs in Judaism. Yeshua being the Hebrew name for Jesus. They do give Jesus the distinction of being the most damaging of all false messiahs. The Jewish leaders had Jesus killed but not for claiming to be the messiah. Jesus claimed to be God (Jn 10:30; Lk 22:70; Jn 8:56-58), blasphemy to the Jews. Judaism taught that no one outside the Father could be worshiped less they commit idolatry. They condemned Jesus on the charges of blasphemy. Jesus was a false messiah and a miscreant according to Judaism.

4) BUDDHISM- Buddhism is considered a philosophical approach to life more than a religion. It has little intersection with Christianity and very little to say about Jesus. Some modern Buddhists have said that Jesus was Buddha reincarnated. There have been several Buddhists who have drawn parallels between Jesus and Buddha’s teachings. Without the need for faith or any real belief system, Buddhism recognizes Jesus as an enlightened man with great influence but not divine.

5) JEHOVAH WITNESS- JW has a lot to say about Jesus. Jesus was the firstborn of creation and not considered to be God. They reject the idea of the Trinity seeing it as polytheistic (more than one god). JWs’ teach that Jesus pre-existent form in Heaven was as Michael, the Archangel. He took on human form for the purpose of setting people free from sin and death. Only a select few are really saved by being JW and doing certain good works. Jesus has no real power to save in that he is not divine.

6) LATTER DAY SAINTS (MORMONS)- LDS church desires to be viewed as a Christian denomination. They are adamant that they fit within the Christian worldview. So what do they believe about Jesus? According to LDS, Jesus was the son of God in Heaven along with his brother, Lucifer. Lucifer went the path of the devil and Jesus stayed faithful to His Father’s calling. A precursory look of LDS belief on Jesus is comparable to Christianity’s teachings about Jesus. The problem lies in what is not said but insinuated. For example, LDS teach that all people are saved by the blood of Christ regardless of whether or not they put their trust in him. This is starkly in contrast to what the Bible teaches about salvation (Jn 14:6; Rmn 10:9-13; Mt 7:21) LDS holds to Universalism. They also teach that works and special rites as set by the LDS church determine your position in heaven. Achievement can result in LDS males being declared god over their own planet! There is no denying that there are many similarities between LDS and Christianity’s belief on Jesus but the subtle differences make these two different faiths altogether.

7) SCIENTOLOGY- Jesus is recognized by scientologists as part of its early religious heritage. Scientology teaches that man is basically good at his core and he alone can free himself from the trappings of his mind. The idea that Jesus was God is considered fiction to Scientologists and comes from unenlightened minds.

A few closing comments to ponder:

1) What we believe about Jesus will determine our eternal destiny. John 14:6- I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father except by me. 

2) Most other religions recognize Jesus but He must be declared as fully human and fully God or it is not the Jesus of the Bible (Col 1).

3) Religions want to play nice with Jesus but he must be made supreme or we do nothing but insult him (Phill 2:10).

4) Every religion should be boiled down to what it believes about Jesus and then be measured by that in accordance with Scripture (Acts 4:12).

He Is The Centerpiece of the Human Race

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in an obscure village. He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty, and then for three years he was an itinerant teacher.

He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never traveled, except in his infancy, more than two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompanies greatness. He had no credentials but himself.

While he was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies. He went through a mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. His executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth, his seamless robe. When he was dead, he was taken down from the cross and laid in a borrowed grave through the courtesy of a friend.

Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone, and today he is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of all human progress. I am well within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever were built, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has this one solitary personality.

– Unknown

Read more: http://www.inspirationalarchive.com/628/one-solitary-life/#ixzz1oOt3PTmD