Legalism as a counterfeit of discipline
My friends be warned that legalism functions like a counterfeit of discipline. It mimics the roots but the fruits of legalism show its true character. Fruits do take a season or two to show up but God knows the heart.
Jesus our Lord gave respect to the poor widows offerings but didn’t have regard for those who were hypocritically giving offerings in the temple. Also from the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican we learn that though both went into the temple to pray to God only the humble Publican was justified as he acknowledged his sins unlike the self righteous Pharisee.
Attending church and attending to God must go hand in hand. The problem comes when someone proclaims his church attendance to his neighbours but secretly in church is only interested in being noticed as a pious individual by all. So as a result he has not been attending to God. There’s no way God is going to honour this.
The only thing worse than a hypocrite is a legalistic hypocrite. Jesus tackled legalistic hypocrites during his ministry on earth. He observed how the will of God was being tampered with legalism and was critical of it. Among one of his rebukes to them is the following:
For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (Mark 7:10-13)
Don’t get tricked by anyone who tells you to follow rules and traditions that are not consistent with the teachings of the Bible. If someone says that you need to donate money to prove that you love God remind that person that God loved us even when we were sinners. Nothing should stop you from giving financially for the preaching of the gospel in unreached areas. But its deception to get conned into paying money to prove your love of God.
Be vary of instructions by religious teachers who say to only speak well to church members of your own race or clan. Remember that the Lord doesn’t like racism in church even if you are not harming the other person.
Never get egged on by the notion that the more you fast the more grace you can earn. The grace of God cannot be earned. If grace could be earned it would not be grace. Fast because you want to spend time in prayer with God instead. Fast because you want to focus on things of the Spirit.
Remember that pilgrimages to holy places in Israel (or elsewhere) are not mandatory for your salvation. It’s good to have a ‘boots on the ground’ feel of places where Jesus walked but then again are you obligated to do that to be saved? You can be saved even if you have lived all your life in Idaho or wherever. You need to believe in Jesus Christ to be saved. Obviously that means that you repent and believe in the Gospel.
Discipline is much different than legalism. You still drink sufficient water whether others are offended by it or not. You have a bath even if others don’t. You still uphold the Gospel even if all others are sinning. We still provide food for our families regardless of the winter or rain, we don’t need to have a thousand laws to tell us that. It’s instinct, spiritual instinct that comes from God. For instance, you may hear just one sermon against witchcraft and you effectively resist all the lies of temptation to witchcraft years after the sermon. Instinct of the spirit is something that you need to have like your natural instincts and even more.
You can develop your spiritual instinct by praying to God and reading his Word which is the Bible. Pray in the Holy Spirit. Seek the presence of Christ when you pray. Read the testimonies of how various people left their wicked ways and led a holy life for Jesus. Learn how brave the early Christian martyrs were that they chose to die by execution rather than forsake Christ. Take delight in hearing of healings by God through his people on earth even for the worst of sinners. That’s when you realize that godly discipline is pristine and is to be cherished unlike legalism which is to be avoided totally.
I pray that you walk more in discipline and remain out of legalism. In the name of Jesus, for the glory God and by the Holy Spirit. Amen.