“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”Ephesians 2:8-9/NIV
In the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, we read about God giving His chosen people the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are His rules for humanity to live by, resulting in a holy and pleasing life before God. After God provided these commandments, the Jewish religious elite added additional rules. It was believed that living by these rules and laws would make someone “good enough” in God’s eyes and humanity. The addition of these rules by humanity and the need to live by all of them to be considered good enough is called “legalism.”
With the concept of legalism, there is a belief that the accumulation of good works and deeds may make someone good enough. Perhaps a faith-based legalistic atonement would be good enough if someone were living a lifestyle filled with destructive actions. I imagine that one person could seek to outdo their neighbor to be better or good enough, resulting in justification. I wonder if there is a catalog of righteous works one would have to accomplish for the forgiveness of various bad deeds. A legalistic lifestyle looks like a lot of [work], and I think there is a better way to achieve atonement for wrongdoings.
The initial focus on a faith-based legalistic lifestyle comes secondary to reading Old Testament biblical passages. Is this a redemption concept for wrongdoings only associated with that period? My quick response is: “no.” I believe that at this time in history, various faith-based and denominational groups demonstrate their own [legalistic] methods to make them “good enough.” To each their own. Let’s return to the Bible to see what is written to help us know if we are good enough!
Romans 3:23 tells us all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – none are righteous! The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:26). As repentance from sins occurs. If we profess with our mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in our hearts God raised Him from the dead, then we are saved (Romans 10:9). God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, and whoever believes in Him shall be saved (John 3:16). This reflection of key biblical passages reflects how to achieve righteousness through our repentance of sins and expressed faith and belief in Jesus Christ. Legalism is not a part of God’s perfect and flawless plan!
Many blessings to you!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
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