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Legalism's Attack on God's Word

September 5, 2014 | by: Robert Pruitt | 0 comments

Posted in: Book Blog Tags: Legalism, Holiness, Sanctification

Do you have, in the Bible, all the information you need to live a godly life? Can you, with only the truths of Scripture, come to know all that you need to know for your salvation and sanctification? Both the Old Testament and New Testament give indication that the Word of God is complete in its ability to reach out to the lost one and bring him to faith in Christ, and to bring to full maturity in the faith all who come to know Christ. Consider the following verses that clearly teach that God’s Word is sufficient to bring us to faith and to then bring us to full maturity. King David said in Psalm 19:7-9:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.

Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, speaks throughout of the comprehensive Word that is able to convict, comfort, and guide the believer. Turning to the New Testament we read:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Note that the Word of God is able to prepare the believer for “every good work.” In other words, there is no good work that God’s Word is not able to prepare us to do. It is comprehensive in its ability in this area. Peter, in a passage that speaks of the promises of God’s Word, says,

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

These verses, along with others in both the Old and New Testaments, assure us that the Word of God is sufficient to bring us to faith and to grow us to full maturity in that faith. God has provided for us all that we need. And yet, the legalist is not satisfied with what God has provided. The legalist, by adding his own laws to the law of God, says in essence, “the Lord did not give us all that we need to be truly holy.” Eve manifested a legalistic mindset, and set the stage for this error when she added to what God had said about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Her words to the serpent were, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.” (emphasis added) God had indeed said, that Adam and Eve were not to eat of the fruit of this tree, but nowhere did he say that they could not even touch it. Interestingly, her addition to God’s law did not keep her from sin. The same can be said of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. Though they were men who were extremely serious about their spiritual walk, they added many rules to God’s Word. In responding to their question, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat” (Matthew 15:2), Jesus said, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your traditions?” (Matthew 15:3) The Pharisees had added so many of their own rules to God’s law that they were breaking the law through observance of their own rules. They were really attacking God’s law. For example, God commanded that the Jewish people were not to work on the Sabbath Day, but were to keep it holy. The Pharisees, not satisfied with what God had said, set out to define anything and every thing that could be considered work, creating long lists of things that could and could not be done on the Sabbath. They turned the law, intended for God’s glory and man’s good, into a nightmare of regulations. They in essence decided that God had not said enough. Their own word became as important, and in some cases even more important than God’s Word. This is always the case where there is legalistic teaching. Whether you realize it or not, a legalistic list of rules added to the Scriptures is an attack on the sufficiency of the Word of God.