Avoiding Legalism in the Church – Isaiah 29:13 Pt 2

“The Lord says:

“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
    is made up only of rules taught by men.”

Isaiah 29:13


Has been something that has plagued and crept up in human culture for centuries.  Legalism in reference to “religion,” basically is dependence on moral law/rules rather than on personal religious faith; a self-righteous attainment of salvation.”  From the story of Cain & Abel (where Abel collects a beautiful salad from the heart and Cain hunts and kills his meat based on his skills), to the Chosen People of Israel, to the Pharisees who Jesus often referred to as a Brood of Vipers or Sons of Hell, to the modern day Jews, and sadly “Religious” people who are focused on Behaviors or Morals – Legalism has been wedged itself into religion and Christianity.  So how do we fight it?

How do we Abide and Adhere to the Law while still relying on faith and grace?  How do we be in the world, but not of the world?  How do we live with integrity by teaching, correcting, and rebuking our brothers in Christ without coming off as pompous legalist?


In Youth Ministry sometimes I have a struggle of not relying on Gospel/Spirit and trusting Him to work.  Sometimes I can get wrapped up in the “Pressure” to produce “good/respectful kids” in my youth ministry (pressure form Pastor, Church, Parents, Culture) – but am I planting seeds to the gospel and grace of Christ – or am I creating mindless legalist that are “good”.  This is a tough balance, because we live in a RIGHT NOW culture and parents and pastors (and youth pastors) want to see the results of God’s Work in the students lives.  But the transformation process and the sanctifying work of God in us (and teenagers) is not always so quick.  We have to “continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us to will and to act according to His good purposes.” (Philippians 2:12-13).

But sometimes our tendency as Youth Pastors is to get sucked into and discouraged by some of the “moral” failures of our students.  Or take some of the behavioral issues to point to our failure as a Shepherd in their lives.  But, we have to continue to PREACH THE GOOD NEWS and the GOSPEL and trust that Spirit will move and work in their lives.  “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9).

Check out an article by The Gospel Coalition Link HERE  about this topic!


“To the degree and extent to which our focus is on behavior, we miss the Heart.”
-Tedd Tropp



Do I obtain a right standing before God by what I DO, or what God has DONE?

How amazing is it to know that “IT IS FINISHED” and that there is nothing we can do to make God LOVE or forgive us more than He already does?  When we become legalistic and are focused on rules and regulation – we miss out on the BEAUTIFUL Peace and Comfort knowing that the CROSS WAS ENOUGH!!!  It is not about anything we can DO, but what He has already DONE for us!

“So what shall we say then?”

So, because so great a salvation has nothing to do with what we can do and doesn’t rely on the work of our hands, what should our response be?  We should live out a CAUSE & EFFECT Faith…  

We love, because he first loved us.  We forgive, because he forgave us.  We worship, because he is worthy.  We Serve, because he first served us.  We surrender, because He surrendered His life for us.  We are humble, because He humbled Himself to death, even death on a cross.  We GO, because He commissioned us to Go and He CAME for us!

Let the things we DO, be because of what He has DONE for us!  Let them not be about pleasing man or based on rules or regulations or even being moral.  Let us serve Him in Spirit and in Truth from the FULLNESS and OVERFLOW of our Hearts.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s