We will be looking at 3 parts that deal with discipline in this lesson and possibly the next.
A. Legalism — self-centered — these people do something to try and gain merit with God. Everything they do is based on being able to be on a good standing with God through works. What exactly is legalism? Why do so many people talk about others being legalistic and are they REALLY understanding the true meaning of legalism? Let’s look at these verses and find out what the Bible has to say.
Matt. 9:11-13, “And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Matt. 12:2-9, “But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungered, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.”
Micah 6:6-8, “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
Hosea 6:6, “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”
In the Old Testament Law, we find that sacrifices were given to cover the sins but the Jews took the sacrifices meant for this specific purpose and twisted it. They used it as a way to make them feel as if they were doing God a favour. In other words, they were trying to gain merit with the sacrifices.
Is. 29:13-15, “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?”
How many times have we found someone who hides their work in the dark until it becomes seen of men. If you have ever read the book called “The Anatomy of Sin” you would see how far sin permeates into our very being. Jesus was right when He said that the thoughts are the very same thing as doing the actual deed. Lusting after another person is the same thing as committing the act of adultery, Samuel made it clear to Saul that rebellion is the same thing as witchcraft, the Proverbs talk about the glutton and the drunkard being in a similar situation and coming to poverty (Prov. 23:21). This is quite similar to the person who is idle and does absolutely nothing. Just because someone claims to be saved and does a lot of good works that impresses the on-looker does not make them a true believer! One thing we have always said and I believe it is true is…What is the heart attitude? Do you see someone doing good works and yet refuses to follow the dictates of Scripture? Do you see someone doing good works and shows forth a heart attitude of hatred when you try to share with them areas of their life that needs changing? These are the people to be wary of when they claim to be “Christians”!
Matt. 15:3-9, “But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophecy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (See also Mark 7:1-13).
Are traditions more important than God’s Word? Are emotions (or feelings) more important than God’s Word? Are experiences more important than God’s Word? Isaiah was right when he said, “This people draws near me with their mouth and honours me with their lips but their heart is far from me. In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men!” Today’s lot of God worshipers are worshiping God in vain because they are not doing it God’s way. What does the New Testament say about this lot of people?
Rom. 3:10-18, “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Wow! Now that says a lot. All of us were like this at one point but true believers have been given a new nature and should no longer be like this. If you notice, though, at the end, there is a comment that they have no fear of God before them! This is the legalistic person! They think, through their own good works, that God MUST let them into heaven. Their good deeds will outweigh their bad deeds and this will be enough for heaven. Beware of thinking that you can do something to gain merit with God!