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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Legalists (Luke 5:33)

"They [the Pharisees] said to him, "John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisee, but yours go on eating and drinking" (Luke 5:33).


Legalism is a lot like gated communities with their high walls and guarded gates erected to separate and protect occupants from others unlike and less fortunate than they (I am not against gated communities. I am simply creating a word picture!). Walls, however, shouldn't make you feel or think you are better than others. Legalists construct "religious" walls of superiority to separate themselves from others. Other truths about Legalists:
  • Legalists are exclusive and unloving toward those unlike themselves
  • Legalists keep detailed lists of differences between themselves and others rather than shared likenesses
  • Legalists establish a list of personal convictions by which they measure and approve or disapprove of others
  • Legalists love rule-keeping which "quantify spirituality" while neglecting grace and the acceptance of others unlike themselves
  • Legalists concern themselves with image rather than transparency
  • Legalists justify harsh criticism of others by using their "spiritual gift", discernment
  • Legalists attack and reject those who walk in freedom
  • Legalists seek to control others by using their list of acceptable habits and behaviors to make others feel inferior and dirty for not being like them
Legalists are also MEAN people:
  • Myopic - they focus on the little stuff only - the dirt in other's lives
  • Empty - theirs is an external and measurable conformity to morality while their hearts are far from God
  • Antagonistic - they verbally attack those unlike them to their face and behind their backs
  • Narrow-minded - their interpretation is the only interpretation. Anything less is compromise.
Legalists live in spiritual gated communities where rules and conditional love guard the entrance gate and build the walls which separate them from everyone unlike them. Legalists repel or push people away while Jesus attracts. Jesus has no walls.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading

Mark 3:1-6; Matthew 12:9-14; Luke 6:6-11
  • Why do Pharisees keep an eye on Jesus?
  • How does Jesus respond to the Pharisees' legalism?
  • What are the implications of the illustration Jesus uses to shame the Pharisees?
  • Why are they so furious that Jesus has healed the man with a crippled hand?
Mark 3:7-12; 12:15-21
  • What do these verses teach you about people with evil spirits?
Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16
  • What three assignments does Jesus give His disciples? What does this tell you about Jesus' relationship with His disciples?
  • How does Jesus know which disciples to choose and commission to be His apostles?
Matthew 4:23-5:20
  • How does Jesus' teachings differ from that of the Pharisees?
  • How does the Pharisees treatment of others differ from how Jesus treats people?
  • Why does Jesus choose salt and light to describe his followers?
  • How does Jesus describe greatness?
  • What do the Pharisees rely upon for righteousness? What standard of righteousness does God require for entrance into heaven?
  • How does Jesus differentiate between those who are great and those who are the least?
Turning truth into prayer
Thank God for Jesus Christ who perfectly fulfills God's demand for perfect righteousness and that He accepts the righteousness of Christ on your behalf.