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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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Friday, November 04, 2005
Legalism and Antinomianism

When I say "legalism," I am not referring to that practice of attempting to secure salvation from God's wrath via the keeping of the Mosaic Law. Surely the word is thus employed when one wants to dismiss a "works based" gospel in as few words as possible; but I am not discussing that particular application today.

Today I am discussing the other, arguably more common use...

Wikipedia defines this use of legalism as, "the view that adherence to certain manmade rules is necessary for moral or spiritual righteousness and full acceptance and partnership in the Christian community."

Some teachings in scripture are less than explicit, and by virtue of their being thus broad, individual application becomes a matter of conviction and conscience. Legalism happens when someone promotes and exalts personal conviction to the level of doctrine.

Failure to respect some legalistic position may result in the one being accused of having a form of Christianity that is completely devoid of any and all moral restriction - something we call antinomianism.

That is not to suggest that following your conscience is the new standard of conduct for the believer...

God has given every man, saved or otherwise, a conscience. This conscience acts as a moral barometer that works on a sliding, "relative" scale. We each have a personal code of moral conduct, and our conscience lets us know when we breach that code. The code itself - whether it is relatively permissive or restrictive - is often in a state of flux, such that "right" and "wrong" become subjective terms; what seems right to me might seem wrong to you, etc.

The conscience can only measure right from wrong in proportion to how perfectly that same conscience is in tune with (that is, saturated by) the word of God. A conscience that is in tune with God's word is going discern right from wrong with greater conviction and clarity than one that is not in tune with God's word.

"Following your conscience" must therefore never be exalted above following the plain teachings of scripture. If there is no explicit teaching in scripture and a matter of conduct becomes a question of conscience - the wise man seeks godly counsel - not to develop rules for others, but to determine the course of their own godly conduct.

The blogosphere does not lack for conversations that center upon topics wherein scripture gives only broad teachings on the matter (hair length, Halloween, or even modest attire).

The bottom line for us, is grace. When we see someone doing something that our own understanding of scripture would not allow us to do - we ought to do our best to educate them on our position - but extend grace to them if they are not on the same page spiritually that we are. Likewise, we need to be patient when we find our selves on the receiving end.
posted by Daniel @ 11:09 AM  
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