Legalism vs. Holiness — It Is Not a Game of Tug of War.

“And now, Israel, listen carefully to these decrees and regulations that I am about to teach you. Obey them so that you may live, so you may enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you.  Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you.” 

Deuteronomy 4:1-2

I just read that verse from Deuteronomy in my One Year Bible. And I can just imagine one of the children of Israel protesting “Well Golly Gee Moses, that sounds pretty legalistic.” And why wouldn’t they? So many of us do. We have changed the incentive from “Obey them so you may live” to “You don’t have to obey God, we are under grace.”

As if we don’t have to LIVE.

As if Jesus didn’t say . . .

 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.  I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”

John 15:10-11

Now I am not talking about a works based salvation.

We are not saved by our own works, but by faith.

But our faith, OUR LOVE, motivates us to not only OBEY but REMAIN IN HIS LOVE.

If we REALLY LOVE Him like we say we do, we will change.

We will stop indulging the flesh.

Over and over again.

Like Samson.

And think we can get away with it.

Not even noticing the moment we lose our anointing.

There are so many people that call themselves Christians, walking in willing disobedience,

Not praying for deliverance, Not trying to repent,

Not caring.

And if you say something about it —

“You are legalistic.”

Ephesians 5

Living in the Light

5 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people.Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey himDon’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    rise up from the dead,

Paul says, “Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him.”


“Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.”

So it isn’t just about what pleases us?


Nobody’s perfect.

We can’t be holy in our own strength.

There are no works about it.

Holiness is not about our works.

Holiness is HIS work.

We NEED the Holy Spirit.

Paul goes on to encourage us . . .

Living by the Spirit’s Power

15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5)

Be filled with the Spirit.



Praise Him.

Give Thanks.





About The Last Hiker

Following Him Up the Mountain
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2 Responses to Legalism vs. Holiness — It Is Not a Game of Tug of War.

  1. SuMari says:

    Amen! This can be a difficult message to get across…Terms like “Lordship Salvation” get hurled at you, as well as, the “but we’re under grace now”…here lately I wonder how much may have to do with the way a person got saved (meaning maybe there was a false conversion). Too often I witness the Gospel being shared in such a way that the person is told they only have to believe in Jesus, believe He died for them and that He loves them so much. I don’t hear the part about a holy God and man’s wretched sin condition…too often the part of true Biblical repentance is not even spoken about or it’s skimmed over way too quickly. Obviously one cannot truly be reborn apart from true repentance.

  2. Amy says:

    There you go again, hitting the nail on the head for me! My discernment radar went off again this morning when I read some Facebook posts about the new The Walking Dead episode. These posts were from people I attend church with, and they spoke about how gruesome this episode was. I couldn’t believe these people I love were watching this stuff and then chatting about how messed up it was! “Be holy because I am holy,” just kept running through my head. How can children of light revel in such darkness?? I debated posting anything out of fear of being called legalistic, but in the end I did say something. You’ve capture the nuance between pursuing God and His holiness vs. legalism. Thank you!

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