Why Legalism Is Good

We women are sensitive to this temptation. We are bombarded with decisions. Between school options, birth styles, what we should wear and even what we should or shouldn`t eat, it`s easy to confuse principle and practice. Confusion can arise as to whether we really live for the glory of God or whether we are bound by legalism. But I think where the confusion starts is the definition of legalism. He continues: “Therefore, we must try to live our lives according to these commandments. Such behavior is not legalism. Legalism is a slavish observance of the law in the belief that it deserves merit. In this admittedly long post, I would like to highlight some of the dangers of legalism. As Luther explains in Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional, “We recognize that we must also teach good works and love.

But we only teach them at the right time and in the right place – when it comes to how we should live, not how we are justified. At the end of the day, many of us like to follow the rules and live a life full of sacrifice because it makes us feel good. Like Eastern religions starving for spirituality, we are willing to live a life of inconvenience and self-denial because we feel superior to those who don`t. The promise of the Old Covenant was that as long as they remained faithful to obedience to God, He would bless them (Hebrews 8:9), but the promise of the new covenant tells us that because Jesus cleanses our sins and presents Himself as our perfect righteousness, God will no longer remember our sins (verse 12). Forgotten sins, the fruit of our repentance of the gospel, are always better than relying on our own inadequate goodness. Basically, this is really a violation of legalism. The second pillar of legalistic political philosophy is his view of human nature. Legalists avoid arguing whether human wickedness or goodness is innate, or whether or not all humans possess fundamentally similar qualities. What matters to them is first that the overwhelming majority of people are selfish and greedy; secondly, that this situation cannot be changed by education or self-cultivation; and third, that people`s selfishness can become an asset to the leader rather than a threat. Let “men follow the benefit as water flows downwards” (Shang jun shu 23:131; Book of Lord Shang 23:2) is obvious: the task is to enable people to satisfy their desire for fame and fortune in a way that meets the needs of the state and does not contradict them.

Shang Yang explains how we can achieve this: When we rely on our own goodness or abilities to complete our sanctification, we have exchanged a life-giving and transforming relationship with God for inadequate legality. Legalism may be simpler, but it leads to chains. Relying on God is always better. He gives us the new covenant in which our relationship with God is entirely based on the work of Christ. It gives us the Holy Spirit who never ceases to grow in holiness. It gives us a sacred purpose to glorify God instead of ourselves. But more importantly, God Himself gives us to ourselves, and it is always better to know Him intimately. Han Feizi is believed to have been a disciple of the Confucian reformer (and last of the five great sages of Confucianism), Xunzi (l.c. 310-c.235 BC). A.D.), who departed from the central command of Confucianism that people are fundamentally good, claiming that they certainly weren`t, because if they were, they wouldn`t need instruction in goodness.

Loving God is marked by a life full of works. But we have just hammered home the root of the legalism of self-satisfaction and pride, so how can that make sense? Because true faith in God will naturally produce works. “It is faith, without good works and before good works, that leads us to heaven. We come to God by faith alone,” Martin Luther in Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional. Our motivations for legalism may vary, but the great danger is the same for all of us. If we break it down, legalism is little more than a series of boxes and ticks. We make an exhausting list of “do this, don`t do that,” and if we stick to it, we feel right before God. But this shows us the greatest danger of legalism. When we focus primarily on what we are doing, there is very little need to examine our heart.

We let our actions stand before God as justification, regardless of the heart behind them. But Christ finds nothing but sadness when we think so. In other words, there is a temptation to fight legalism by running away from good things, whether reading the Bible or acts of love, because we mistakenly see them as part of the problem. The basic premise of [legalism] is that human beings are inherently prone to misconduct and that, therefore, the authority of law and state is necessary for human well-being. This school contrasts with Confucianism because Confucianism, especially according to Mengzi, emphasized the inherent goodness of human nature. (208) In the past, those who could regulate All Under Heaven had to settle their own people first; Those who were able to defeat the enemy had to defeat their own people first. The root of defeating people is control of people, as the metallurgist controls pottery metal and clay. If the roots are not firm, humans will be like flying birds and common animals: who can regulate them? The root of the people is the law. Therefore, those who are characterized by an orderly regime block the people with laws; Then a [good] name and countries can be obtained. (Shang jun shu 18:107; Lord Shang Book 18:2) And the answer to this question is the most uncomfortable answer we can imagine.

No. We have no goodness in us that could merit salvation. Likewise, it is logically impossible for us to do enough good to preserve our salvation. After all, the very idea of doing good to go to heaven is actually rooted in selfishness and self-preservation, not in respect for a holy God. Legalism pursues good works with the intention of gaining God`s favor. It`s about saving you. These are good works without believing that God justifies us by faith alone. John Piper explains it this way: “The essence of legalism is when faith is not the engine of obedience” (“The Anatomy of Legalism and the Discipline of Prayer”).