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Characteristics
Of A Legalist

A summary of his article as edited by Ray Downen follows:
    One of Satan’s successful strategies is to get us believing in and defending behavior and practices that are bad, that are really wrong for man. He’s especially adept at twisting thoughts and lives of deeply spiritual persons into such a posture.
    Wanting strongly to be like Jesus, when we feel we’ve finally made it, we’re apt to decide that only those who are exactly like us are like Him. Those who agree with US are right!
    A prime example of legalists are the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Jesus found them of all the Jews most opposed to the Way which He taught. With their traditions, they in fact transgressed the intent and spirit of the law God had given through Moses. Jesus told them about it.
    He also found them hypocritical even in observing the commandments they themselves had made. Themselves imperfect, the Pharisees often accused the disciples of Jesus of doing wrong things when Jesus pointed out that the disciples were in fact NOT transgressing God’s law...

LEGALISTS WANT
THEIR “JUST DESERTS”
    Paul, in his letters, spent much time dealing with the erroneous idea that by perfect obedience we can save ourselves. And, as Luke tells us in Acts 15, the early church finally had to have a definitive word from their accepted leaders as to whether or not Christians were under law.
    In the Galatian letter, Paul describes the system of seeking salvation through perfect law-keeping as being a yoke of bondage (BAD news) which will separate its practitioners from Christ. Legalism is not a way of salvation, but a way instead that leads only to death.
    The “law” of Christ leads to LIBERTY (freedom from law), for His “law” is love. Under law, guilty persons face punishment. Since all are guilty, Paul advises that law always leads to death! The gospel is not a law code. Christ’s Way is a way of life, joy, and peace for unworthy sinners who trust in Jesus for salvation.

LEGALISTS TRUST IN
PERFECT OBEDIENCE
    Rather than trusting in God, those who choose the way of death trust that their law code is perfect and complete, and that their obedience to what they say are commandments from God leads to justification.
    Note that all who love Jesus are sure to “keep his commandments.” We will never deliberately do what we think Jesus wants us to NOT do. We will always do what we think Jesus wants us TO do. If our actions were as good as our intentions, we would all be perfect. Likely.
    Before Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul was a legalist of the deepest dye. Turning to Christ caused Paul to turn against legalism...
    Legalists assume that they, by their actions, can earn salvation. They can’t. No one can. The Bible makes it perfectly clear that the gospel of Christ is good news about what God HAS done (and IS doing) rather than it being news of what men must do for themselves.
    A perfect man, Jesus of Nazareth could die for others. We who trust in Jesus for salvation will do many good deeds because He wants us to do them. But we’ll not think those deeds earn salvation for us!

LEGALISTS FIND FAULT
WITH DISSENT
    Legalists always find fault with, they criticize, those who disagree with the laws created by the legalists. Naturally they do.
    For they convince themselves that God really meant to speak to create law about the matter they think important. They imagine that what they read into the Bible was really put there by God. Most of us are apt to do this sometimes. But we never should do so.
    The legalist is the (Romans 14) weak brother who judges those who know that there is no law against what the weak brother says and thinks is wrong. The weak brother demands that everyone accept his decision, for he is sure that he knows God’s will in the matter!
    Anyone who disagrees is thought to be a “brother-in-error,” disloyal to God, and weak in faith. Yet the dissenter didn’t lack faith in God. He just couldn’t agree with the weak brother’s judgment...
    Contemporary legalists are convinced, for some reason, that the Sunday morning assemblies are the most important hour of the week. They gleefully “withdraw fellowship” and condemn anyone whose ideas about how to praise and please God in Christian assemblies differ from their own theories.
    Unlike Jesus, who said the sure mark of recognition would be whether one who said he was a brother loved his brothers, they identify brothers by agreement on doctrinal details. Those whose practice in Sunday morning “worship” is identical to theirs are THEIR brothers.
    How the brother lives and loves others seems to matter little!

LEGALISTS SEEK TO
CONTROL AND RULE
    Loyal legalists seek to domineer. Since they know they are entirely and always right, they feel they must demand that their ideas/interpretations/opinions become those of all. Any dissenter is doomed, for legalists know exactly what God teaches and requires. If persuasion doesn’t change a brother’s mind, then other means are appropriate, even means which most Christians would say are totally inappropriate for a Christian.
    Conformity is demanded, or the brother is no longer accepted as a brother.
    Legalists trust in law-keeping, find fault with all who dare to disagree with any conclusion they reach, and demand that all accept their judgments as final and correct in every religious question.
    Christians cannot be legalists. The Way to unity in Christ is a way paved by love. It’s a way where brothers enjoy the company of brothers of every race and persuasion while all find peace by seeking and doing the will of the Lord Jesus.

ENSIGN, 2710 Day Rd, Huntsville AL 35801 is
a monthly, edited by R. L. Kilpatrick. $10/year.

    --- And here’s an interesting letter about the
    Attitude best described as LEGALISM.
(A reply to comments addressed to Cecil Hook by Brent -- Few groups are as good at practicing legalism as the U.S.-based “Churches of Christ” to which Cecil and Terry and I belong. I’m really in the Churches of Christ/Christian Churches group since I don’t believe God cares whether or not we use musical instruments in praising Him.)

    Brent -- I do not know all of the persons or scenarios to which you refer as “bulldozing God’s word out of the way,” but I do know that many of the voices among Churches of Christ which are challenging the traditions that have often been referred to as “the old paths” are in fact much more diligent in trying to allow the Biblical text to speak.
    Many of our “old paths” are not all that old -- 150, 100 years, or less -- and many of us are allowing God’s word to bulldoze tradition out of the way, something that I believe to be consistent with the teachings of Jesus (cf., e.g., Matt. 15:1ff.). What you seem not to realize is that most of us who no longer will allow tradition to pass uncontested as gospel -- who insist that “we are not under law but under grace” -- have done our time as die-hard legalists whose “narrow way” was actually our “narrow way of thinking” that the truth which sets men free is whatever our group believes and practices, and that the “pattern shown to thee on the mount” was a model for duplicating the New Testament church on earth (a model that requires us to carefully select some, but negate other, attributes of virtually every congregation described in Acts - Epistles.)
    We believed it, defended it, preached it, and debated it -- until we found that we could not answer even some of the most basic questions of faith and doctrine by using that man-made, self-limiting, self-serving paradigm.
    I can assure you that the transition from legalism to liberty was not made without soul-searching AND Scripture-searching. It was no easy pilgrimage from earned-righteousness-by-obedience to imputed-righteousness-by-faith, but it was worth the trip in terms of greater understanding of the word of God and of less manipulation of the text for the sake of protecting one’s arguments and positions.
    Despite the charges of the most ardent defenders of the “faith once for all delivered to the saints [in the 19th and 20th centuries]” that this undermines or negates obedience, to the contrary, it frees and impels us into greater service to God and a deeper commitment to honoring and being faithful to His word.  
    Brent, the mere quoting or citing of boatloads of scripture references or tossing about Biblical quotes is no evidence of soundness of doctrine. Nor does hard-line defense of our established status quo prove that one is biblically conservative.
    A Biblical conservative truly does what our slogan claims. He speaks where the Bible speaks, is silent where the Bible is silent.” Goebel Music’s Behold the Pattern (and other articles and books of a similar direction) is patently guilty of doing a great deal of speaking on matters which the Bible does not address (“is silent”), either explicitly or implicitly. At the same time, it avoids (or distorts) some rather clear teachings of Scripture (matters on which it “speaks” in abundance).
    I guess all I wish to convey to you is that I know and understand exactly where you are at theologically, and I can hardly expect you to understand anything else. But I do want to encourage you to consider how consistent is your method of ascertaining truth by the way in which you deal with difficult questions. I found that, in order to reach many of my conclusions, I had to speak where the Bible was silent, to ignore some things on which the Bible spoke abundantly, and to skip over far too many questions that arose under that line of reasoning.
    Ultimately, it is not by our wisdom or knowledge that we come to know God or his truth -- it is through his Holy Spirit, whose message is contained in the vessels of human language (words) but whose truth is deeper than the words can possibly convey.
    One more thing: 2 Peter 1:3 has no reference to the Bible, as your quote contended. “All things that pertain to life and godliness,” Peter says, God has already (at the time of writing) given. 2nd Peter was not the last book of the New Testament to come about, so that the five writings of John (probably dated in the last two decades of the first century) and perhaps a couple other post-A.D. 70 books would not (by this definition) pertain to life and godliness. A perfect example of forcing a preconceived idea on the text.
    Read it again to discover what things God ALREADY had given in reference to life and godliness. [I remember using this verse in the Open Bible Study format of Ivan Stewart years ago, and a prospect with whom I was studying asked me how I knew this referred to the Bible. I blush with shame now to recall the verbal gymnastics and outright distortion which I used to “prove” my case. He did not become a Christian, at least not under my clever tutelage.]
    I’ll be praying for you. I know so many whose views were just like mine, and whose hearts I trust were basically sincere but who (like me) subscribe to and defend a position that frankly does not stand up under the pressure of scrutiny and under the weight of the biblical text itself. And God can work in hearts such as these, even though they may be zealously misdirected. Such seems to have been the case with the apostle Paul. The only hearts God may not work in to reveal truth are those who credit themselves with having already learned all the truth that really matters -- anything else to be learned is just icing on a cake that is already baked, cooled, and on the plate.
    Blessings in Christ, Terry Danley

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(This letter is also Viewpoint Study #76, where the letter to
which it responds -- from Stanley Adams, may be found.)
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From: Ray Downen
To: “Stanley Adams”
Subject: Re: In ONE Spirit
Date sent: Wed, 15 Oct 1997 09:25:18
    Stanley, It’s appropriate that each of us should realize that Jesus wants us who belong to Him to love ALL who belong to Him. I think you are right that in matters essential to the Christian faith, we must be of one mind (one spirit). In all things we must love one another, each regarding the other better than himself. You well say,
    “But please don’t think that there aren’t legalists among those who are progressive. They are so very quick to tell me where I am wrong and thousands of others. Who made them priests and lords over me and the body of Christ?”
    One reason Cecil Hook is so well liked by so many is because he is NOT quick to scold and nag others who don’t see things exactly as he does. I admit that I am less kind and loving in speaking of my ideas which, as any honest man will, I think (at the time) are very right and also should be seen immediately by everyone exactly as I see them. In fact, I sometimes later see that I was NOT right, but of course it’s too late then to correct myself!
    I’m sorry if I fail, or any brother in fact fails, to properly respect your right to not see things exactly as I (they) do. In our hearts we know you DO have the right to disagree. And we know that we ALL can learn and should do so. So please forgive us if we seem to think we know it all and seem to feel that anyone who disagrees is ignorant or else just misinformed. Try to love us anyway. Thanks!
    I’m troubled by the wording you’ve chosen (quoted below) that the only ones saved will be in “the body known as the church of Christ.” If you mean the brotherhood which has pre-empted that name as their denominational identification, that’s bad. If you mean the church Jesus actually built, which includes all who are reborn and who are scattered abroad in hills and valleys we seldom or never traverse, then of course you’re right. Most Christians are NOT in our “brotherhood.” All Christians are in the REAL assembly which was founded and which belongs to the Christ. We don’t own the name, “Church of Christ.” I hope I’m just misunderstanding the implications of your statement, so that we both already see this matter exactly alike.
    For no one is saved outside the church of God which is the Lord’s church and which is the body of Christ and will be the bride of Christ. Many are saved outside the “church of Christ” or “Church of Christ” which identifies itself as such here on earth.
    In a real sense we are not saved by the church, or by our knowledge of the church. We’re saved by Jesus. We’re saved by a new birth of water and spirit. After we’re saved, the church can bless us and strengthen us. That’s why God planned and built it.
    But in the episode of the conversion and baptism of the Ethiopian we surely can see that in God’s providence, the man was saved and “the church” had nothing to do with it, and Luke doesn’t mention that “the church” ever did have anything to do with it. We infer that when the man got home he would tell others about Jesus, baptize them, and then they would meet together as the body of Christ. But nothing is said about the apostles sending an organizer there to “set the church in order.” Not then, and at no time. Also we note that It was many months after churches were begun by Paul that he instructed his follow-up crew to set apart in those young churches men to become their leaders.
    Nowhere in the Bible is there record of any prescribed or required “order of worship” by Christians. We do infer from what is said about their meetings that they met to edify and encourage one another and to pray to and worship our God. But we have no scriptural warrant for insisting that another group do exactly the same things in the same way that WE choose to do them. And if we harmoniously decide to do next year something we didn’t do last year, or to omit something that was done, we surely have that right.
    By which I mean -- if one congregation has the servers and leaders march in procession from the back to begin the service time, they have the right to do so. One church I attended for a time in Kansas City liked it that way. I felt no call to tell them they couldn’t do it that way and please God. They weren’t trying to please ME, and were trying to please God and conform to the expectations of the majority of their own congregation.
    Some congregations pass the emblems, then partake together. They have the right to do it that way now, and later change and eat as the emblems are passed. Or vice versa. Some share one cup. We are not required to have individual cups. We’re not condemned if we do. In some congregations there is a dress code. All servers must wear a tie. Sometimes a suit coat. But the Bible doesn’t set up the code. Men do, and what men do can be redone or undone. And we’ve no proof that God will be displeased if we don’t follow any code set up by men.
    Many Christians are serving God the best way they know, and are sincere in loving Jesus, yet they don’t know anything about Campbell or Lipscomb or Ketcherside or Hook. Or you or me. It’s Jesus who is their Lord. Many do NOT know some things we think are important to know about the church and about the Way of salvation. They can be saved without much that WE think is very important.
    The requirement is first outlined in John 3:3-5, then clarified in Acts 2:38. What brings us INTO CHRIST is hearing the good news that we CAN be saved despite our sin, then choosing to turn away from sin in order to let Jesus be our Lord, and confessing this by tongue and by that action designed to show forth not just OUR death to sin but also HIS death and resurrection. We are not saved by the one who baptizes us, or by the words that person uses, or by the church which pays his salary and which accepts us into its fellowship.
    We’re saved by Jesus. At the baptism of a penitent sinner who now believes that Jesus is the Christ, a new Christian is created. The Bible sets up no “pattern” of worship or dress or work by which we have the right to judge any brother or sister in Christ. If he in good conscience serves Christ in ways which we think are not appropriate, we can share our thought with him, but we dare not JUDGE him to not be a Christian if he disagrees with us.
    I thought from your comments that possibly you were really thinking that folks had to be “of us” in order to be saved. If so, I have to disagree -- vigorously, as you noted!
    Paul makes a definite contrast between those who see we are saved by grace and those who, on the other hand, pay only lip service to grace while believing that we are saved by works. “Legalist” is what we call the extremists who demand obedience to a law code they create. Legalists earn the right to their title by setting up unscriptural requirements and refusing fellowship to any who won’t accept their right to make laws in God’s name.
    Cecil Hook is free in Christ. So am I. I hope you are as well. The worst enemies Paul faced in doing the work of the Lord were legalists. Those who may destroy the church which belongs to Jesus today are those who today earn the title of legalist. I personally know no legalists in the ranks of those who recognize that we ARE saved by grace. You say you do.
    Perhaps we don’t really understand the term alike. I very much like what is said in my study #1 copied from the ENSIGN magazine of some years back, written by a California brother. I hope you’ve read that study or will do so. And I’ll appreciate any additional comments you feel led to share!
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The Church of Christ here spoken of is that group of saints of God who prefer to use only the one name for their fellowship, and who generally feel it is improper to use musical instruments in church assemblies.
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Legalism Is NOT
Christianity
A Second Look
The isms of Legalism by J. James Albert

    It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I heard the term legalism used and was told that legalism for many reasons is wrong. Prior to that time I had heard many a sermon “preached” extolling the virtues of what essentially constitutes legalism. I was raised being taught that the new testament is the 27 books of the Bible - Matthew through Revelation -- and they were written to comprise a written code for the people of God from Pentecost on, much as the Law of Moses was a written code for the people of Israel.
    I thought that grace was extended to man on the basis of his meticulous law-keeping. If we wanted to be saved, we had better work, which included working a lot and working right. It seemed that the most important works had some connection with our assemblies, especially the Sunday morning assemblies.
    It was a number of years before I fully realized that the letter to the Galatians was written primarily to expose legalism. The apostle Paul told the Galatians that legalism is a yoke of bondage that not only will profit nothing, but it causes us to fall from grace.
    When I began to ask questions relative to legalism, I got answers like, “Don’t you think you should be obedient to the commandments of God?” Being obedient to one’s understanding of the commandments of God is not legalism.
    Yet, being obedient to one’s understanding of the commandments of God with the idea that correct implementation of his commandments will earn or merit justification and an eternal home in heaven is legalism. It is an effort on the part of man to relate to God upon the basis of a legal code rather than through faith.
    Legalism is insidious. It causes man to reverse his priorities and values while at the same time it has him thinking he is growing in grace and righteousness. It is much as the scribes and Pharisees whom Jesus accused of emphasizing the external, less important things and neglecting the internal, more important matters (Matt. 23).
    Legalism is a philosophy that has given birth to a number of other isms that help to perpetuate and reinforce the concept. They are isms that have negative connotations, and we like to accuse other parties in the Christian religion of being guilty of practicing the isms, but we have defined them and apply them so as to support our own prejudices and to exclude our traditional practices. An objective and sincere examination of these isms and a comparison of them to our practices in the Churches of Christ will show that we have been throwing rocks while living in glass houses, so to speak.
    Let’s notice a few.
1) Creedism.
    There are about two dozen factions in the non-instrumental Churches of Christ. Each one basically thinks it constitutes the one faithful, loyal and true body of Christ. The others are all in error one way or another. To be in the fellowship of each of these factions is not merely a matter of having faith in Christ and expressing that faith in repentance, confession, and baptism, followed by a sincere manifestation to be obedient to God in response to His love. Fellowship in each faction is further conditioned upon following the legalistic creed of the faction.
    Brethren are encouraged to read their Bibles, and are handed the line that the sacred scriptures require no interpretation. But when they come up with an interpretation that is different from that of the party’s, it is quickly pointed out that theirs is a wrong interpretation and ours is what the word of God really says.
    Each faction of the Churches of Christ insists that we can all understand the Bible alike, but what they mean is that we should all subscribe to their unwritten creed. If we don’t, we can’t be a part of their faction and we won’t go to heaven.
    Every faction of the Churches of Christ overlooks a great many differences within its own ranks, but it insists upon unanimity of opinion on the issues that they have exalted to form their unwritten creed which in turn gives them their factional status. Almost every division in the Churches of Christ has occurred when some men placed their interpretation(s) above brotherhood and sought to bind it (them) upon others as the will of God and a condition or conditions of fellowship. This is creedism and as one of our spiritual forefathers pointed out, unwritten creeds are more dangerous than written ones.
2) Denominationalism.
    Every person on the face of this earth who has been motivated by faith in Jesus as the Son of God and has been “born again” is a member of the body of Christ and is my brother or sister in Christ. No faction of the Churches of Christ or all of the Churches of Christ constitute the church of God in its fullness.
    When most people associated or identified with the Church of Christ use the term Church of Christ, they don’t use it to include all of God’s children. They use it to refer to an exclusive segment of believers who agree with the factional creed relative to the issues which identify the faction.
    They have seized upon a term to designate their church and use it for all intents and purposes to the exclusion of all other terms used by the Holy Spirit. A while back I attended an assembly of a nearby Church of Christ where I don’t normally attend. A person was there who recognized me from my profession as an educator, and as he greeted me he said, “Jim, I didn’t realize you were Church of Christ.” Such a statement as that reveals our denominationalism.
    To denominate simply means to name. We wear a specific name, and that is denominationalism in the truest meaning of the term. In turn, denominationalism fits right in with legalism because we stress that wearing the right name is a part of the “package” some think merits us favor with God and helps to insure us of a home in heaven. We use a scriptural name unscripturally, but worse than that, it does not cover for our party spirit and the resultant divisions.
3) Isolationism.
    It is interesting to note that the letter which was written to the Galatians to expose legalism tells us that even an apostle was affected by the pressure of those imbued with the philosophy and, as a result, he resorted to hypocritical isolationism. The apostle Peter had been associating with some Gentiles who had become Christians until some Judaizers came on the scene. The Judaizers were Jews who said that Christians also had to obey the Law of Moses because man is “justified by works of the law.”
    They separated themselves from the Gentile Christians unless they would conform. The apostle Paul “withstood” Peter “to his face” and reminded him that we are not saved by obedience to law, but “by faith in Jesus Christ.”
    The Churches of Christ do the same thing today as did those Judaizers. They regard their interpretations of certain teachings of the new covenant scriptures as the law of Christ and if you do not conform they withdraw from you in one form or another. At the most, they refer to you as one of the “brothers-in-error.” According to what the apostle Paul told the Galatians, those who do such withdrawing are guilty of an even greater error than those not judged “fit” to be a part of their fellowship.
    The party leaders work at keeping the rank-and-file from associating with and communicating with those in the other parties of the Churches of Christ. They discourage attendance at any of their assemblies or being involved in any forums or studies that cut across party lines.
    In the past, I have seen brethren go “by night” to listen to Carl Ketcherside because they feared the party leaders. Quite a few years back I began attending the Hartford, Illinois forums which were the forerunner of the present-day Restoration Forum meetings. One time an older brother in “my” party told me, “You shouldn’t go. You’ll get to liking those people, and it will create problems for you.”
    It surely did! Not only with brethren who attended the forums whom I found to be as concerned, sincere, and spiritual as any Christians I knew, but with brethren of “my own” party who couldn’t tolerate me “crawling over the wall” to see what brethren were like. Association with “brethren-in-error” other than to “shoot at them” from the pulpit or party paper, or to meet them in combat (debate) meant you endorsed their “error.”
    Legalism encourages isolationism. Legalists don’t want us to know that our so-called “brethren-in-error” love God as much as we do and that they generally have as much respect for the authority of God’s written word as we do. The job of the brotherhood mafia is easier if they keep us isolated.
4) Judgmentalism.
- Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1). The apostle Paul asked the Romans, “Who are you to judge another’s servant? (Romans 14:4). Further, he told them “But why do you judge your brother? (Rom. 14:10). The same apostle told the Corinthians, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes” (1 Cor. 4:5). The apostle James said, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13).
    Obviously no thinking person would say that any of the above passages were meant to keep Christians from being discerning persons and at times exercising judgment. But the Churches of Christ have violated the spirit of these passages. These passages were meant to prevent the very thing we do. We pronounce judgment upon our brethren because they disagree with us. Many times negative judgment stems from a disagreement about something of which the Bible is silent.
    Who are we to say that we know it all as it is to be known? Are we the official and perfect interpreters of the sacred scriptures? Who has declared our hermeneutic the correct one? Are our so-called “erring” brethren to put their faith in us or to study the Bible themselves and determine what is, in their opinion, true and false?
    How merciless we can get in our judgment of our “brethren-in-error” is epitomized by our use of 2 Corinthians 6:14-17. When I was growing up in the Church of Christ, I used to hear this passage quoted frequently to maintain the divisions between our party and those who differed with us on issues relating to the setting of the Lord’s Table (use of cups) and teaching (the Sunday School). We classed them as unbelievers because that’s who the verses are warning about. We wouldn’t even call them brethren. We called them by Mister. How shameful and how judgmental! Legalism rationalizes such a crass attitude.
5) Pharisaism.
    The Pharisees in Jesus’ time were dedicated legalists. They thought they could earn their way to heaven by complying with meticulous rules and regulations based upon their interpretation of a law, the Law of Moses.
    We have understood the Law of Christ to be a similar law and to think we can earn our way to heaven by strict adherence to our interpretations. Jesus said that the Pharisees made religion a burden. We have done the same when our religion should be a joy and help in our lives.
    The religion of the Pharisees tended to build false pride in their hearts because of their apparent meticulous observance of the law. We pride ourselves upon our loyalty to the unwritten word. Each segment of the Church of Christ claims to be the only ones who respect the authority of God’s written word and fully abide by its teachings.
    The emphasis of the Pharisees was upon externals. So is ours, particularly our methods of "corporate worship." The Pharisees told others to either conform to our rules and regulations or we will have nothing to do with you. We do the same to our brethren in Christ.
    The Pharisees were more interested in proselytizing people to their sect than they were in leading them to worship God. We are more interested in converting people to our church and our way of corporate worship than we are in converting them to Jesus Christ.
    The Pharisees rationalized the evasion of weightier matters of the law and made it of no effect. We do the same with plain teachings of the new covenant scriptures, especially in regard to brotherhood and love. And on and on!
6) Sectarianism.
    Sectarianism is a work of the flesh, yet we have become so twisted in our thinking and practice we have made a virtue of the attitude that defines it. A sectarian is a person who asks you, in order to be in his or her fellowship, to believe something other than (in addition to) the conditions of salvation. A sectarian lays a foundation other than Jesus Christ. A sectarian divides God’s children by saying that if you are not right with me you are not right with God.
    A sectarian substitutes assent to knowledge of propositions for faith in Jesus Christ. A sectarian confuses his party with the Church of Christ in toto. This article might just as well have been entitled “The isms of Sectarianism” with legalism being a subtitle because the two go hand-in-hand. They thrive on each other and are so contrary to walking in the Spirit.
    There was a song popular in the 1960’s which went, “I am a rock, I am an island. and a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.” Until we see legalism and its concomitants for what they are, we will continue to be like a rock and an island. Our divisions will cause us no real pain and we will never cry because of our separation from brethren. Instead we will take pride in what we mistakenly see as maintaining purity for ourselves by separating from brethren who are no more in error than we are.
    Until we truly agonize over our shameful situation and truly crucify self to serve others, we will continue to quench the Spirit of God in our lives and we won’t know the joy of God’s children being of “one heart and one soul” upon this earth. (P.O. Box 811, Corcoran, CA 93212
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- Brief Bible Study #1-A from Ray Downen. Click to go on to Viewpoint Study #2. Click for Ray’s concluding remarks.