I have heard the term “legalism” thrown around recently. For a brief second I thought it was being suggested that we should not judge the behavior of other people–as if we should leave our doors open to any wolves that want to damage our families. I can’t even pretend that there is a gray area as far as choosing to keep certain people out of our lives. We can use the loving words of our creator to set high standards for our lives–and there is no room for abuse, dishonesty, or compromising your family’s safety. Upon reflection after much seeking, I can best describe “legalism” as:
1. A misguided attempt at reaching salvation by judging your actions against the actions of other people; as to how they follow man-made rules.
2. Ignoring the grace of the creator and over-emphasizing discipline of conduct; suggesting that obedience to man-made laws is the way to redemption.
3. A situation where obedience to man- made laws is made paramount to importance.
SO IS IT DECENT TO JUDGE PEOPLE?
- One of the most quoted bible verses I know of is Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” (New American Standard Bible)
I have seen this verse misused to avoid accountability; to refuse to address wicked behavior and avoid changing it. In verses 15-20 our instructions are: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.“ My understanding then is that we need to judge the behavior of others but to temper our judgement with love, patience, and understanding; never condemning another person.
- Corinthians 6:1-5 describes judgement in the case of lawsuits among believers: ” If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?” (NIV)
It IS important to judge the actions of other people. It is important NOT to condemn people for being imperfect. Condemnation is a tool of the enemy to judge people as complete failures. It is important to examine this concept by comparing condemnation to conviction.
CONDEMNATION VS. CONVICTION
Condemnation is focusing on a problem but offering no solution; no way out. Conviction shows you the answer to your problems; made possible by the sacrifice of the son. Condemnation screams for you to focus on your past failures and sins. Conviction offers you a new life; based on following the way of our creator–come to Yahuwah and learn to forgive yourself. Your past doesn’t have to follow you around anymore. It seems like a no-brainer to me but I know people who are very loved in their lives who still CHOOSE a wicked life that forces them into a lonely, shallow, meaningless existence. Yahuwah offers substance and direction in a world that values technology over family time, material items to self-sustainability, and vanity over inner-beauty.