Is Legalism the Real Problem?

Daily I read posts from grace teachers and preachers attacking the Law and legalism.  I understand the enthusiasm to explore our relationship with God apart from law keeping, but is legalism really our problem?

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.”  (James 1:14-15)

Lust is the problem.  Lust exists in all men whether they are under the Law or have never heard of the Law.  The Mosaic law doesn’t bring forth sin.  Lust brings forth sin.  The Law only served to strengthen and reveal sin.  It did not create it.

When Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses and took its penalty on Himself, the capacity to sin was not eliminated.  Sin continues in the human race as we all know.  Our own lusts are evidence that being free from the condemnation of the Law hasn’t freed us from the capacity to sin.  As Jesus said, the spirit (of man) is willing but the flesh is weak!

As born again Christians we are not only free from the Law of Moses (as a means of righteousness) we are free from the law of sin and death!

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”  (Rom. 8:2)

While we spend so much time focusing on ‘legalism’ as our enemy, it is really only the symptom of the real problem.  The real problem isn’t legalism.  The real problem is the flesh.  Being distracted by legalism and attacking legalism isn’t the answer.  The answer is to mortify the deeds of the body by the Spirit!

“For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.”  (Ro 8:13)

“For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.” (Gal. 5:17)

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”  (Gal. 5:24)

Rather than focus on the Law as our enemy (a subtle distraction), it is time to live by the Spirit and live above the lusts of the flesh.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  (Rom. 8:1)

Barry Bennett

More thoughts on the Word of God, the Bible.

Verses to consider when the Bible is being attacked as nothing more than the error ridden musings of old men who didn’t know what they were talking about.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  (Eph 6:17)

– How can you take the sword of the Spirit (the word of God) if it is not written?

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb 4:12)

– Where is this word that is quick and powerful?  Is it written?

Jesus prayed in John 17:17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”

– Why does Jesus refer to Your truth and Your word?  Isn’t He the Word and the Truth?  Could He be referring to the scriptures?

“…have you not read what was spoken to you by God?”  (Mt. 22:31)

– Jesus equated scripture with the voice of God.  The Bible is God’s living Word.

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began   26 but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith  (Rom. 16:25-26)

– God commanded that the gospel mystery be revealed by the scriptures in order to bring men to faith.

Paul used those same scriptures to persuade unbelievers about Jesus and the Kingdom.  “So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.” (Acts 28:23)

“thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” (Mark 7:13)

– Some are guilty of invalidating God’s Word.  Where is this Word?  Scripture?

“If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken).” (John 10:35)

– The Word of God is called Scripture and it cannot be broken.

“that…. you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.” (1 Cor. 4:6)

– Paul exhorts that we not go beyond that which is written.  He is referring to Old Testament scriptures.  Today it seems that there is almost a contest to see who can go the furthest from that which is written.

Barry Bennett

Our redemption was accomplished two thousand years ago and all of the benefits of that redemption became available at that time for all who believe. We have been freed from the power of sin and all of its manifestations, including sickness.

We can find God’s heart to see His people healed in many scriptures in both Old and New Testaments. God reveals Himself in one of His redemptive names as the God who heals us (Ex. 15:26). God’s nature cannot change so if He was a healer before the Law and under the Law, how much more under grace!!

Isaiah prophesied and Peter confirmed that by Jesus’ stripes we were healed. (Isa. 53:4-5, 1 Pet. 2:24) In other words, forgiveness exists for all men whether they receive it or not. The price was paid. And thus, healing is also available to all, though many do not take advantage of it.

Jesus revealed the will of God (Heb. 10:7) in His ministry when He went about healing all (Acts 10:38).

Jesus commissioned the church to heal the sick (Mark 16:18), and we see the early church walking in this power.

James asks if any among the church is sick (James 5:14). The very question implies that there should be no sick among us, and the necessary steps to receive healing are given.

Healing was accomplished on the cross and is available to all men, just as redemption from sin is available to all men. As we are transformed by the renewing of our minds and we walk in the authority and revelation of this great truth, we will be able to appropriate what Christ has purchased for us with His stripes.

Barry Bennett

Do you have a stronghold?

 

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Cor. 10:4-5)

 

A stronghold is an imagination or thought.  It is a belief system that is so ingrained in the heart and mind of a person that it colors their perception of themselves, others and the circumstances of life.  A stronghold can be a cultural norm, a religious tradition, a political ideology or the latest social movement.  It can include how we were raised and what we were taught by our parents and teachers.  Strongholds can be impacted by music, movies and the latest political news.

 

In every case, a stronghold represents a belief that is against the nature of God and His purposes for man.  The one who is holding to the stronghold may not wish to be against God in their thinking, but the stronghold is so deeply rooted that they aren’t even aware that they are filtering God’s Truth through the lens of the stronghold.

 

Strongholds allow deception.  The fundamental characteristic about deception is that the one who is deceived doesn’t know it.  The stronghold has become a part of their approach to life and their approach to Truth.  Even Truth must be shaped and filtered to fit the mold of the stronghold.

 

Within the body of Christ there are many strongholds.  Perhaps the strongest is the belief that God is controlling all things.  The misunderstanding of sovereignty has paralyzed much of the body of Christ and left many living lives of passive resignation.  This is hardly what God had in mind for His children.

 

The results of the sovereignty stronghold change faith from a proactive potential to destroy the works of the enemy into an inactive acceptance of loss and suffering as part of His celestial plan.  Prayer becomes “wishful hoping.”  The most popular Bible stories that support this stronghold are Job, Paul’s thorn, and chastisement (Heb. 12).  While all these stories have powerful lessons for us, the person trapped in the stronghold cannot or will not see the truth.  The Bible becomes a mysterious manual to explain human suffering rather than a divine revelation of redemption and the restoration of man’s authority and purpose.

 

Only truth can set the captive free.  But truth must be desired and sought.  This means that the stronghold must be allowed to be challenged.  Rather than adjusting to strongholds, let’s move out of the darkness and allow His truth to tear down everything that holds us captive.  If your belief system allows you to be a victim of fate, you have a stronghold.

 

Barry Bennett