Facebook post by Stacy McDonald:
An Expose’ of the Legalistic Anti-Legalist:
While *true* legalism is a real issue, these days, anyone with any sort of convictions may be accused of legalism. How can a “legalism hunter” actually be a true legalist in disguise and how do they choose who goes on their hit list? Here’s my take:
Sally used to be a legalist. After being enamored with a particular teacher/preacher (whatever!), she decided she wanted to be just like them. She assumed that in emulating their outward appearance and lifestyle she would become a godlier wife and mother. In the process, she began to look down on anyone who didn’t live or look exactly like her. She judged the actions, convictions, and motives of everyone she knew.
Sally took the outward expressions of someone else’s real faith and turned it into an absolute “rule for all of life.” If she saw a woman in pants and short hair, she decided she must be a feminist. If someone didn’t homeschool, they weren’t as “godly” as she was. If she saw someone with one or two children, she assumed they used birth control and weren’t truly thankful for their children (like she was).
She focused heavily on what “others” were or weren’t doing, and rarely considered her own sinful heart. She was going through the motions of someone else’s convictions, but had no idea why she was doing it – other than to be thought of by others (and herself) as “godly.” In a way, she wanted to be “part of the crowd” and a certain lifestyle seemed to be the secret handshake.
What Sally didn’t realize was that many of the people she was trying to emulate had no idea these things were going on in her head. Finally, after wearing herself out trying to live a formulaic lifestyle that reflected “someone else’s” convictions (not her own) she gave up.
Now she claims to be “set free” from her legalism and hunts for other “legalists,” so that she can self-righteously point out their sin (under the guise of warning others about legalism).
What Sally doesn’t realize is that she has superimposed her own past sins onto friends and strangers; and now she legalistically judges and condemns (publicly) anyone who, in her opinion, appears to live the way she used to live or “looks” the way she used to look. She has become legalistic in her anti-legalism and piously persecutes other Christians. The same sin she was guilty of before has simply changed shapes.
Pray for Sally, and those like her, that God would convict her heart, free her of legalism, and teach her to stop tearing down and dividing the church.
Hey – just wanted to share with you an article I wrote on this subject, similar to your own.
LEGALIST? PHARISEE? FALSE CONVERT? CONFORMIST? WHICH ARE YOU?
Three examples are given as case studies as we examine this current issue. I trust you are not any of the above (i.e. Pharisee, etc), but a true convert living in obedience to JESUS.
DISCLAIMOR: If you are a false convert, you may disagree with everything I say below since the “natural man” does not understand the things of GOD since they are devoid of the SPIRIT OF GOD.
Judy used to be a conformist. Since her parents and all her friends at church, Christian school, and / or other ministries lived a certain life of holiness; in pride, she conformed to their standards and “then some” in order to be considered “the best”. Furthermore, to really get “pats on the back”, she was outspoken against anyone who didn’t conform to the standards of the church, Christian school, or ministry. Her motives were never to warn them or see them repent of sin, but simply to be considered for places of leadership and to be “popular” within the sub-culture where she was placed. Judy took the outward expressions of others’ real faith and turned it into a way to gain prominence and position. Whereas, true converts would speak out against sin even if ridiculed, Judy was only speaking out to conform, or to gain acceptance and reward. If her parents, school, or church were against jogging naked, then she was against jogging naked. If her parents or peers were against watching trash on television, then she was against watching trash on television. All of this was such a source of pride that she persecuted anyone who didn’t conform. She was a CONFORMIST and a PERSECUTOR. Perhaps she was a Christian, but more than likely she was a false convert who had no relationship with JESUS CHRIST. Either way, she was not finding her convictions of conscience from the WORD and the SPIRIT nor was she doing them out of LOVE FOR JESUS in an attempt to obey his commands. She wasn’t rebuking others in order to help them or warn them of pitfalls, but rather to find reward and favor and feed her own spiritual pride. She never looked within at her own spiritual needs. She was taking on a form of godliness from those around her without any clue as to the reason “WHY”. She had a form of godliness but denied the power of the SPIRIT from her life. She is similar to many who never question anything but instead conform without thinking (this is a dangerous thing to do and the type of mindset that cult leaders love – “clueless conformers”. Sometimes there are entire congregations or even a pastor who maintain a “clueless conforming” lifestyle. They do everything because their denomination “does it this way” and have not gotten their direction directly from the WORD and the SPIRIT). Then one day, Judy or the entire church are suddenly challenged about their ideas. They realize they don’t even know why they are doing the things they are doing. Or perhaps a certain event brings a spirit of bitterness or carnality to Judy or to the entire church. Now, Judy leaves the church. Or another scenario is her whole church becomes carnal and the “church culture” changes, so in this case, Judy stays at the church. Either way, she has now decided that she is more “enlightened” (rather than disobedient). She begins now to not only conform to the new “enlightened” culture that she has found, but also a persecutor of those who refuse to conform to the pagan world around them. She uses the term that is taught her by her new mentors – the sin of “legalism”. Ironically, “legalism” is not legalism. She and her cronies have no clue that “legalism” is actually the sin of working for one’s salvation as mentioned by Paul the apostle regarding Jews who thought they were going to heaven for fulfilling the Law outside of CHRIST. Obviously, there are those in her old church who are true converts and are not attempting to gain salvation for themselves through works. However, in her mad delight at finding “enlightenment” and a new group to persecute, as well as a new source of spiritual pride, she prefers the term “legalist” since it makes the old church look heretical. What she is really persecuting is anything different than herself. She was a CONFORMIST and a PERSECUTOR. She still is a CONFORMIST and a PERSECUTOR. Everyone around her is now pecking away at the awful “legalism” and Judy is bent upon being the best persecutor of the pack (much like Paul the Apostle before he was converted) against the perceived “heretics”. All of her energies are spent telling the world about the evils of the “legalists” (which SHE ACTUALLY IS ironically). In her new mindset, she seeks in pride to punish the “legalists” in order to also gain reward and approval from those around her once again. Now Judy is doing the same old thing she always did. She’s pointing out everyone’s sin for all the wrong reasons still, while failing to see her own. She wants to conform for approval, reward, and to feed her spiritual pride again. She sadistically enjoys persecuting others as well. This time she is even more harsh and cruel than before and doesn’t realize that she still is just as sinful as before. She also fails to see that she is a FALSE CONVERT who is trying to work her way to heaven doing good against the “legalists”; thus, in reality, SHE IS A LEGALIST. Her persecution knows no end. She searches for any opportunity to persecute those who follow their conscience (or who “look” like they follow their conscience). She looks to find dirt on any of them. If found, she will take the dirt and parade it publically for the world to see, despite the harm to the cause of JESUS CHRIST. Her beliefs are fickle as water and are hinged upon her own conforming pride, and desire for acceptance and reward.
Susan is a professor of JESUS, but not a possessor of JESUS. She was raised by “Christian” parents (false converts) with a lifestyle equally pagan to the world around her. She goes to a church that is the same filled with almost all false converts who claim to be good Bible-believing Christians since their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents were all “Christians”. Plus, they all thing JESUS is GOD and a great and kind PERSON. However, around the time she’s a teen, she and her parents move to a new city. The only church that preaches the Gospel is a church that teaches the WORD and actually APPLIES it to every day life like JESUS and the apostles. For example, the BIBLE teaches that we shouldn’t run naked, act the part of charmers or enchanters (shamans or rock musicians), or fill our mind with things that are not pure; therefore, the pastor speaks to contemporary events and culture, applying Scripture as did CHRIST. Susan isn’t familiar with such APPLIED BIBLICAL TEACHING, so she immediately launches a name-calling campaign of “legalist” against the pastor of the church. As a result, she motivates many of the other false converts in the church to start a war and a division is created. The church splits. Some of the awful parts of this scenario are obvious (i.e. the anger and bitterness that is caused, etc), but one of the worst parts is that a church is created by the false converts and an entire FALSE CHURCH is born. I’m convinced we have MULTITUDES of these in America today and probably due in a large part to the above scenario occurring many times in the history of our country. The only good part of this scenario is that now many false converts left the original church to start their own pagan temple.
Let’s look at “Wendy”. Wendy is a lady who was raised by godly parents who lived out what the BIBLE taught, so it wasn’t just a bunch of nice words that were discussed at church regarding their Greek and Hebrew meaning, but also something that could change EVERY aspect of their lives with the Spirit’s leading. Wendy accepted JESUS as SAVIOUR when she became a teen and she thought through the SCRIPTURE for herself and developed convictions for herself. After a few years, she went away to college and hung around the “wrong crowd”. She discovered practically how awful sin really is. She learned that living like the “world” wasn’t as glamorous as television and Satan had made it to look (IE. pool parties where folks are practically naked, drinking alcohol, rocking out, and doing drugs and immorality, etc) and her decisions to be part of the “party crowd” had severe consequences in her life (scars that were “permanent”) including an abortion. She repented and began living the Christian life again. However, this time she had a new perspective. She saw how many are raised in Christian homes who downplay sin, nakedness, immoral shows/music, and hanging w/ the wrong friends, etc. Wendy was convicted by the LORD to follow the Scriptural command to warn, rebuke, and exhort others of the dangers of sin. Her friends turn on her with a vengeance and hate her for simply warning them of the dangers and pitfalls of sin and she is called a conformist. She lives in a state that has few churches that preach the Gospel and there’s only one in her town. Most of the people are false converts and even the Christians in her church are conforming to the blueprint of the world (the very thing that Paul the apostle said NOT to do in Romans 12:1-2). Wendy feels alone. Furthermore, most members in her church avoid her as a “legalist”. Ironically, they are the true “legalists” who think they merit heaven due to their perceived “good works” of church attendance, tithes, and a profession of JESUS, along with their perceived “good works” of persecuting those who live according to the dictates of conscience. As you can see, Wendy is NOT a “legalist”, NOT a “Pharisee”, but is a lovely lady and godly follower of JESUS CHRIST. However, she is facing severe persecution from those who claim to love the LORD. When an entire nation of churches becomes like this church, how long do you think GOD will tolerate his “little lambs” being treated so cruelly by false converts or carnal Christians (and some of them pastors) without releasing HIS GREAT WRATH?
“LEGALISTS” and FACEBOOK
Ironically, the true legalists are the biggest bigots and persecutors of those who live righteously. For example, take Facebook posts. Usually the “Wendy” types are those who are constantly warning others on matters of conscience and sharing Scriptural insights and praises on her Wall. They seldom (if ever) bother anyone else’s Wall posts, except for the posts of Christian friends in order to encourage them or socially interact with them.
The “Judy” types are constantly making posts on OTHERS’ Walls. The “Judy” who hates those “without standards” is always posting comments on others Walls to show them how evil they all are. The “Judy” who hates those “with standards” is always posting comments on others Walls to show them what “legalists” they all are for following their consciences and speaking out against skin. She loves commenting on every one of the supposed “legalists” personal or group Walls to publically denounce their conservative beliefs and to pronounce them to be heretical “legalists” in order to gain the reputation as the defender of the “truth” (or her misguided conception of it).
The “Susan” types simply dismiss the “Wendy” types as not only “legalists”, but also nutcases and bizarre wackos. They simply have no interaction with the “Wendy” types and shun them. They can’t stand to be around them as they do not understand the ways of GOD whatsoever and as false converts, the “Susan” types are blinded and feel that a pagan lifestyle is completely acceptable to JESUS since they lack the SPIRIT.
IMPACTS TO THE AMERICAN CHURCH TODAY
As you can see, America has a lot of churches and individuals that are false professors of JESUS CHRIST. Thus, we see a huge difference between the lives of these false brethren and the lives of the true converts. Furthermore, we are presently experiencing repercussions from these false brethren as they are infiltrating the last of the true converts’ churches, schools, and ministries. Is it a grand conspiracy? I really DO NOT believe so. I believe these false brethren are just seeing the world through the eyes of a pagan human and not through the clear vision of the SPIRIT. They also see themselves as the great liberators of Christendom and are becoming more and more aggressive in their desire to see ALL CHURCHES, ALL SCHOOLS, and ALL MINISTRIES conform to their vision of how they feel they should be operated. Their vision usually includes making these organizations deplete of standards of holiness which they do not understand and which they see as an obstacle to their desire of making the church “user-friendly”. They want the world to see Christianity as EASY, SIMPLE, and FUN. In other words, utter the “Sinner’s Prayer”, then don your bikini, grab a few good-looking fellow church members, and let’s go celebrate our “fire escape from hell” with a few martinis and a rock concert. Perhaps some other fun at the apartment thereafter. No wonder the so-called “Christians” divorce rate is higher than the non-Christians. This is the church in America as I see it. Thank GOD for the few churches pastored by true converts, and the members in them that are true converts. If you are a true convert, please focus on winning these false converts around us to JESUS CHRIST. Also, you need to stop assuming that most in your church are true converts. When you hear major pastors in conservative camps (like Dr. D. James Kennedy or even a converted actor like Kirk Cameron) all saying that MOST members in churches are false converts from their historical experience, then you really need to STOP ASSUMING most are. I’m sure in false churches, most if not all are false converts. In true churches, I would say that probably 75% is a good average figure to use, since JESUS used this figure HIMSELF in the parable of the Sower (Kirk Cameron uses this percentage as well). Obviously, this percentage can change depending upon a great number of factors (some may have 90% and others 25%, etc). I am changing my focus with many of those who live like the devil within the church and never seem to “get” why I live a life of holiness and find my lifestyle “bizarre”. Instead of trying to convince them otherwise, I have realized over the years that these people need a relationship with JESUS CHRIST and then the same SPIRIT who has changed my lifestyle will change their lifestyle. Also, we must be careful about letting just anyone become a leader in your church or a Sunday School teacher or singer, etc. Another step that we need to take is to pray for the LORD to reveal HIMSELF to those among us who are false converts.