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HOLINESS & LEGALISM (Kent Smith 5/21/23)

HOLINESS AND LEGALISM

Romans 14:1 - 13a

(Holiness: Week 5 of 7)

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The last two threats to holiness that we will discuss are both found in Romans 14.

Today we look at Romans 14:1-13a to consider the threat of Legalism.

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What is Holiness?

  • Holiness is the character of God, as separate from all else and all others.

  • To be holy is to be set apart by God, and unto God, and for His Glory.

Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.

(1 Peter 1:15)

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What is Legalism?

The requirement for or expectation of STRICT CONFORMITY TO MY UNDERSTANDING of religious laws and moral conduct.

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Paul begins in Romans 14 by encouraging the acceptance of those who are weak in faith, without passing judgment on them.

Paul’s particular concern is that those who still feel obliged to practice the restrictions of the Mosaic Law not be excluded or judged.


The circumstance was that many of the Jewish new converts had been steeped in the ceremonial, and dietary laws of Mosaic law and felt obliged to continue to practice those laws. Matthew quotes Jesus saying, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” Many new Jewish believers resisted the idea of abandoning the Old Law.” Paul identifies them as weak in faith, not as a judgment, but as an observation. Their understanding of all that Christ accomplished was not fully developed and mature. They were hanging on to the old legalism.


Paul expresses three principles of how to reign in the negative influence of legalism.

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PRINCIPLES TO REIGN IN LEGALISM

Accept those who are weak in the faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on their opinions. (v.1)


PRINCIPLE #1

ACCEPT EACH OTHER WITHOUT JUDGMENT

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  1. Accept those who are weak in the faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on their opinions:

    1. Paul is speaking to those strong in the faith to accept those weak in the faith, but he is actually challenging the legalism on both sides of the issue.

    2. (V.2-3) One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3 The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.

      1. One person has faith that he may eat all things.

      2. Another is a vegetarian!

    3. THE PRINCIPLE IS TO ACCEPT EACH OTHER WITHOUT JUDGMENT. It is not fitting that we assume the spiritual high ground to enforce our opinions and standards on others.

    4. The one who has faith to eat all things is NOT to judge the vegetarian (the one who does not eat all things).

    5. And the one who chooses not to eat, is not to judge the one who does eat.

      1. Last Week Rabbi Andy shared a story: A rabbi was at a meeting with a Catholic priest who commented on the fact that the Rabbi did not eat BBQ. The priest was sharing how much the Rabbi was missing out on, regarding one of God’s great gifts in the pleasures of food. After a pause in the conversation, the Rabbi asked the priest whether he dated women, to which the Priest replied, “Well of course not!” The Rabbi replied, “I’ll enjoy the pleasure of my wife, you can keep your BBQ.”

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PRINCIPLES TO REIGN IN LEGALISM


Everyone answers to their own Master (not us!)

And we will ALL answer to Christ (V.4, 10)


PRINCIPLE #2

REJECT THE NOTION THAT OTHERS MUST EMBRACE YOUR CONVICTIONS

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  1. Everyone answers to their own master (not us!), and we will answer to Christ (V.4, 10)

    1. We are called to serve One Lord, One Master

    2. THE PRINCIPLE IS THAT WE MUST NOT BELIEVE THAT OTHERS NEED TO ANSWER TO US REGARDING THEIR OWN CONVICTIONS OR CHOICES; WE ALL ANSWER TO GOD.

    3. iLLUSTRATION: (v. 5-6) One person regards one day above another, and others regard every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.

      1. The importance of one day over another. Practicing the Sabbath / or Worship on the 1st day of the week.

      2. Whether we show our faith by what we eat, or by what we do not eat.

      3. Whether we show our faith by what we drink or by what we do not drink.

      4. There is great liberty in Christ, but we are not to be mastered by any appetite! All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Cor 6:12

    4. (V.7-8) FOR NOT ONE OF US LIVES FOR HIMSELF, and not one dies for himself; 8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

      1. God alone must be our master, not our spouse, or children, or church, or employer. Not even our own desires or appetites should master us. God must be the Master. He has the right to determine all that we do, and all that we do not do. We live to the Lord in ALL we do, and in all we determine NOT TO DO. i DO NOT GET TO JUDGE THE CONVICTIONS OF ANOTHER BELIEVER.

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PRINCIPLES TO REIGN IN LEGALISM


Do not judge one another or hold one another in contempt. (V.10, 13a)


PRINCIPLE #3

DO NOT CONDEMN THOSE WHO

LIVE DIFFERENTLY THAN YOU.

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  1. Do not judge one another or hold one another in contempt. (V. 10, 13a)

    1. (V. 10-13a) But you, why do you judge your brother/ Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.” 12 So then each one of use will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore.

    2. THE THIRD PRINCIPLE IS THAT WE MUST NOT CONDEMN OR DIMINISH OTHER CHRISTIANS BECAUSE THEY MAY LIVE DIFFERENTLY THAN US.

    3. THE STRICT CHRISTIAN MAY FIND IT EASY TO JUDGE OTHERS AS LESS SPIRITUAL.

    4. THE CHRISTIAN WHO EXERCISE FREEDOM UNDER GRACE MAY EASILY JUDGE HIS BROTHER AS NARROW-MINDED, INTOLERANT, AND LEGALISTIC.

    5. THE SOLUTION IS TO STOP TRYING TO CONVINCE OTHERS OF THE RIGHTNESS OF YOUR OPINION, AND TO HUMBLY ACKNOWLEDGE THE POSSIBILITY THAT YOU MAY BE WRONG. IN EITHER CASE UNDERSTAND WE WILL ALL GIVE AN ACCOUNT OF OURSELVES TO GOD.

    6. LET GOD SORT IT OUT!

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THE DANGERS OF LEGALISM

1. Legalism believes that their opinion is correct.

2. Legalism presumes that we can keep the Law.

3. Legalism promotes pride in the “law keeper.”

4. Legalism promotes a judgmental attitude.

5. Legalism diminishes the offer of grace.

6. Legalism promotes many new rules to avoid sin or to improve righteousness.

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1. The legalistic person projects a self-assured arrogance that they have the best understanding of God’s will.

2. The legalistic person believes that with sufficient self-control and will power they will be able to keep the law.

•Self control is a fruit of the Spirit, not a matter of will power.

•We are so morally corrupt we CANNOT fulfill the requirements of the law (sinlessness).

3. The legalistic individual often has great self-discipline and therefore looks down on those who do not.

  • Some have the self-righteousness to believe “that with the effort that I have you could be as good as I am.”

4. The legalistic person tends to judge the unrighteousness (as they view it) of others.

5. The legalistic person is prone to place a high value on works of righteous living

reveling in the false understanding that they will need less grace because of their righteous performance.

6.The legalistic person tends to view the holy life as following all the right rules to limit any opportunity for sin.

They may introduce “new rules” that prohibit activities to better avoid sin: No movies, no TV, no dancing, no dating, no alcohol, no joking, no mixed swimming…etc. They may further insist that righteousness requires certain religious activities: You must attend church every time it is available, you must tithe, you must dress according to the “rules,” you must wear your hair the “right” way, you must sing the right music at church…etc.

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PRACTICE HOLINESS

1. Look to yourself!

  • What am I doing that I ought not to be doing?

  • What am I not doing that I ought to be doing?

2. Be an example, not a bully.

  • Demonstrate your convictions by what you do.

  • Do not seek to force your opinions on others.

  • Do not judge those who do not live like you.

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“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and [a]by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how [b]can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7)




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