Paul's Passing Thoughts

There is NO Such Thing as “Legalism”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 21, 2013

ppt-jpeg4We live in a unique era marked in its beginning by Christ paying the penalty for our sin (HEB 1:2). We are in the last days. We know that because it’s post cross. We live in this specific era which is also biblically described as a time of unprecedented deception (MATT 24:3,4; 2THESS 2:10-12).

Therefore, we must be careful to use specific biblical words in our communication of the truth. Those who define the language win the argument. Redefining the meaning of words to deceive is literally the oldest trick in the book; e.g., Satan redefined what God meant by death. “Surely, you will not die.” Depending on your definition of death, that was true—Eve didn’t die on the spot.

“Legalism” is a word that is not in the Bible anywhere. The concept/term was made popular by Martin Luther’s interpretation of law and grace. The term, “legalism” lends strong foundation to authentic Reformed doctrine. If you use the term, you are being a good Calvinist whether you know it or not. The Reformers were anti-sanctification because it suggests enablement and some room for self-esteem. The Bible does not call us to eradicate all concept of self for the sole purpose of the group, it calls us to evaluate ourselves truthfully (ROM 12:3). That’s why there is a severe lack of sanctification in the church today—we are all just good Protestants.

So, legalism is in, but the word for the primary nemeses of righteousness throughout the ages is out: “anomia.” The English word is, “antinomianism.” It means, anti (a) – law (nomia). And I assure you that manmade law is not in view. Ignorantly, Christians deem the word as just another 50-cent theological term even though it appears throughout the New Testament and defines the core of human woes. While anomia is ignored, a word that doesn’t even exist in the Bible is thrown around more often than we change clothes.

Because the ramifications of anomia pushback against Luther’s law/gospel theology, the word is translated in English Bibles as “wickedness” and “lawlessness” giving the idea of general bad behavior. The real idea is anti-truth, anti-God’s full counsel, anti-God’s wisdom, anti-sanctification, anti-kingdom living, anti-clear conscience, anti-life, anti-goodness, etc., etc. Christ points to it as the primary cause of lovelessness and cold-heartedness (MATT 24:12; PS 119:70). John indicts it as the very definition of sin (1JN 3:4).

Perhaps the greatest deception in all of this is the Reformed motif that the Pharisees are the poster children for “legalism.” Supposedly, they strived to keep God’s law as a way of earning His favor for both justification and sanctification of which are the same to the Reformers. The opposite is true; the Pharisees were full of anomia and voided the law with their anti-truth (MATT 15:1-9; 23:23-28). The Pharisees were not “legalists,” that’s a lie, they were antinomians.

Nothing cripples sanctification more than the Reformed idea that Christians can sincerely seek to obey God by following their born again new desire for the law and thereby unwittingly partaking in works righteousness. There is no more detestable evil under the sun because it causes a conflict between the new desire God has put in our hearts (ROM 7:25; PS 119:1ff.) and instruction that propagates a relaxed view of the law (MATT 5:19). This is why Calvinism has crippled the American church. They propagate a doctrine that sets us against the very desire that God has put in our new hearts.

Satan did not come to Eve in the garden as a “legalist.” He came to her as an antinomian. In regard to the time of the end, the apostle Paul refers to the antichrist as the man of anomia at least four times in his letter to the Thessalonians. From the beginning, and through the middle embodied in the likes of Baalam’s error and Korah’s rebellion, and culminating in the end, the doctrine of anomia is the primary beast that devours the souls of men. But yet, New Calvinist queen Elyse Fitzpatrick likens anomia to the Loch Ness Monster, and is celebrated accordingly for her supposed biblical insight.

It’s time to eradicate “legalism” from our Christian vocabulary and replace it with a description of the New Calvinist breed of beasts among us: Antinomians.


6 Responses

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  1. paulspassingthoughts said, on March 21, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.


  2. Andy said, on March 21, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Perhaps as equally as misused term as legalism is the word “liberty”. Now, while legalism is not found in the Bible, liberty is, but it is grossly mis-defined. In short, they would define “liberty” as being freedom from the law. But if you study carefully, you will always find “liberty” used in the context of freedom from the bondage of sin! You have written on this in past posts how we are no longer a slave to sin and the flesh and the old man. We are at liberty. We have been freed from that bondage. We are no longer a slave to sin! This is BIBLICAL LIBERTY!!!


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on March 21, 2013 at 11:45 AM


      Right, the perfect law of liberty: James 1:25


  3. Argo said, on March 21, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    I think part of this stems from the false idea that the Law given to Israel by God via Moses was not efficacious to Israel’s salvation. The opposite is true. God very much intended that by their obedience to the Law, they would be saved. It was the practical, applicable, and empirically iterated form of the philosophy that eventually would be made absolute to all, independent of strict adherence to formula, so that each INDIVIDUAL could be righteous, apart from the law given just to Israel. Once we understand that doing of the law did indeed lead to righteousness for Israel, we can understand how obedience to Christ’s moral standards leads to righteousness for the Christian. And ignore them is not proof of Christ, but proof you have rejected Him.


  4. trust4himonly said, on March 21, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    “Once we understand that doing of the law did indeed lead to righteousness for Israel, we can understand how obedience to Christ’s moral standards leads to righteousness for the Christian. And ignore them is not proof of Christ, but proof you have rejected Him.”

    Argo, I just need clarification here: to what moral standards show that one is saved? We all ignore moral standards at one time or another even as Christians. I had a problem with anger and it took several years before this was dealt with between me and the Lord. We may have a problem even with obedience to the Lord as Christians- we do not always obey when He wants us to; we may not even repent for certain areas in our lives. So I have a problem with the “doing of the law leads to righteousness for Christians”- we are already declared righteous before the Lord when we trust in Him. Our obeying leads to becoming more like Christ, yes, as far as sanctification; our ignoring them leads to separation of fellowship and lack of assurance, but not necessarily that we have rejected Him and therefore do not have Christ. Maybe I have what you are saying all wrong, but could you clarify?
    I think that when it comes to knowing Christ or not boils down to the heart. Did our heart put our trust in Him or not? God states that “He knows the heart” and that I think is where it boils down to. Moral standards don’t particularly tell where the heart is. You could have the most perfect guy with good moral standards and his heart is far from Christ; whereas, youcan have a person who struggles with certain sins all his life but in his heart he knows it and cries out to God. Now would God rather that person who struggles face that sin and put his walk to work with the Holy Spirit?- yes most definitely!, but that man still has his salvation sure, because Christ bought him and will never let him go.


  5. trust4himonly said, on March 23, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    “Maybe I have what you are saying all wrong, but could you clarify?” this is what I said.

    Argo, I do not think I was making any inferences- I was just asking you to clarify and then discussing my own position on sanctification. So you can chill… i see what you are saying and I will have to chew on what you said here for awhile. I do not know if I totally agree, but that’s ok. I just needed to see where exactly you were coming from.


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