Thursday, June 23, 2016

Why Legalism is Demonic!

Readings for the Day
2 Kings 8-9, 2 Chronicles 21, 1 Timothy 3

Verses for the Day
4 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

Once someone becomes a Christian it is important that they receive good teaching. In the history of the church a common mistake has been to confuse discipleship with legalism. Discipleship is learning to live as Jesus' apprentice in all you say and do. It is studying the life of Christ, and living by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. It is always asking the question, "What would Jesus do if he were me and then doing it." It has nothing to do with a bunch of rules that one slavishly adheres to. If we could be justified by works then we don't need Christ.

In contrast to this, the false teachers in Paul's day and Timothy's church were teaching things like a Christian should not marry and should abstain from certain food and drinks. The worst part about it is they did not follow their own rules, and were hypocritical in all they said and did. This is to assume that marriage and food are evil and deny the goodness of Creation. Remember when God created food to eat he said, "It is good". When God created men and women to be in a physical, emotional and spiritual union, it reflected His own image and said it was "good".

The deceitfulness of this teaching was that it was creating a new law and added works to the pure gospel. The purpose of the Law was to lead people to Christ. You why Paul labels this teaching as demonic? Any teachkng that detracts or subtracts to the doctrine that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ is heresy, or what we call false teaching. It is demonic because it leads people away from Christ through a spirit of self sufficiency and self righteousness. Ultimately its aim is to the focus back on us, what we do, which leads to pride and all kinds of problems.

While this teaching was prevalent in Paul's day, we see similar versions in churches today. While Jesus calls us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow him, most of all this has to do with dying to self and our pride. By creating list of rules and denying the good things God has created like food and marriage, we are creating our own cross and and denying the one that us free.

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