Legalism: The Great Friend of the Abuser

Matthew 23:16-23 ESV  (16)  “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ (17)  You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? (18)  And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ (19)  You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? (20)  So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. (21)  And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. (22)  And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. (23)  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

I still do not completely understand the mentality and motivation of the “Christian” legalist.  But I do know that such people and their alleged “biblical” system are no friend to the oppressed.  As we have been reading the comments this past week in particular about how the legalist flatly prohibits divorce for abuse, citing various Scriptures in a “biff-boom-bah-there-my-case-is-proved” manner, the evils of legalism have been illustrated and emphasized.  The religion of the Pharisees is indeed alive and well today.

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Should we Speak Publicly About Evil in the Churches?

More than once now I have had Christians ask me if it is wise for me to publicly criticize the local, visible churches as I do here on this blog, in my books, and in person with friends and acquaintances, some of who are not Christians. The concern is  they voice is that such criticism will keep people from attending church and finding Christ. It is a fair question asked by people who as far as I know are asking it honestly.

Some of them might, for example, point to the following Scripture:

1 Corinthians 6:1-6 ESV  When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?  (2)  Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?  (3)  Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!  (4)  So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?  (5)  I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers,  (6)  but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?

So perhaps we are not to be critical of the earthly, visible church in front of unsaved people? Isn’t that “going to court before unbelievers”?

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How to Find a Good Church

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion– to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:1-3 ESV)

“Do you know where I can find a good church?” Have you ever been asked that question, or asked it yourself? The fact that we have to even pose the question tells us that there is a problem. That there are not only good churches, but bad ones. In essence, what we are asking is, “can you tell me where I can find Jesus and His true people?” We have all had our fill of the Pharisee kind of religion. Like rain in Oregon, that stuff is all over the place.

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