There are many plain messages in Scripture that reflect the attitude we are to have towards God, but one that is a foreign to an ex or current legalist, above all, is Abiding in Christ. The Apostle John told us “But the annointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you:”
John goes on to say, “and even as it [the annointing] hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” You shall abide in Him, Christ! Not man, not works, not ritual and tradition, but Him!
So, minor confession. If you haven’t figured this out yet, much of my writing, and my purpose is to come against spiritual abuse, legalism, and cults, because they scar the soul ever bit as much as sin does. I myself was a judgemental, legalist, a Oneness Pentecostal for fifteen years fully believing I had the only truth you lacked, before the realization that I was bowing down to man and not God. I lost the Joy of my Salvation, and I had replaced Jesus with my Pastor.
I had deified man, and I worshipped man. I counted it the highlight of my church experience to sit near my pastor, or to gain his approval. I never thought ‘what if Jesus knew what I just did…’, it was always, ‘What if pastor knew about what I just did…’
But, like every cult, and every spiritually abusive, legalistic structure, the initial focus was Jesus Christ as a front for the true purpose of the system. His name is used to promote the system, but in the end, your obedience was to the man at the top, and that obedience was tantamout to salvation. We abided in our structure, and works, in our holiness (dress standards), in our obedience to a man (fervent and unwaivering obedience they openly demanded), etc.
So what happened to Abiding in Christ?
Joh 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Joh 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Joh 15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Joh 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
My largest argument with legalist systems is that they remove the connection between God, His Son Jesus Christ and the commune of the Holy Spirit, and they (men who command control over others) replace it with with obedience to themselves, which is becoming a priest of the Old Testament in New Testament Shepherds Clothes.
Remember, that when Christ died, part of the ending of the Law and Old Testament structure was that the veil of the temple was rent in two. In otherwords, the seperation between Man and God (the Holy of Holies) was removed. In olden days, only the Priest could enter into God’s presence and intervene on man’s behalf. With the death, burial and resurrection (Gospel) of Jesus Christ, we now have direct communion with God!
As for you, the anointing you received from him[Christ] remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his[Christ’] anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. – 1 John 2:27, AMP
Modern legalists are the roadblock that stands between the Saint and God. We, as seekers of truth always seek out a teacher of Truth, and he stands before us, blocking the view of God. The problem is we accept flawed man, who says anything he wants in the name of Chris, as the teacher of Truth instead of the true vine Jesus Christ!
As a matter of example, my previous church/cult just celebrated 41 years in business, but in all that time, they have not sent forth a single preacher, evangelist, missionary, or sent sums of money to charitable organization feeding the hungry.
Yes, I said business. It’s a for profit business. Pay your tithes, pray, obey and stay in the words of one of my favorite commentators. What is the significance?
You cannot abide in Christ, you abide in the Pastor. I was absolutely called by Christ to preach his Gospel. The four days of sleepless dreams, quickening and inspiration was nothing but a touch of God. I knew it, I prayed it, cried it, talked it to my wife, claimed my worthlessness before God, experienced excitement and dread and everything inbetween. When I told my Pastor?
If it was real (the calling) God would have told ME.
Thus ends abiding in Christ. How man Scriptures can we find defining that His calling, His Word, and His Spirit would come to us directly? Too many to list here.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5
Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. – Psalm 143:10
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. – John 16:13
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. – Galatians 5:18
Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105
One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. – Romans 14:5
You must abide in Christ alone!
The word abide according to modern dictionaries means to accept or act in accordance with. Or, in this sense, to live your live in faith to Christ!
In the Greek dictionary, the word has a similar and strong suggestion;
A primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): – abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), X thine own.
To abide in Christ is to stay in Christ. Remain in Him, hold fast to Faith, believing Him and His Word. Not other men, (not even me!) or their standards, traditions or teachings. We must have Faith in Christ alone, for He alone is savior!
So abide in Christ friends and brethren. Do not abide in the false religion of man but the truth of God!
That was a genuine blessing to read, my brother! As a matter of fact, one of the first thoughts that came to mind was how I, The Recovering Legalist, haven’t written much about legalism, lately. You, on the other hand, have wounds that are still fresh and sore, and I can feel it in your words. God be with you and bring you comfort as you combat this great destroyer of the faith.
One thing you wrote actually brought about a physical reaction in me. My stomach tightened and I’m sure I had a grimacing look when I read what your pastor said about your calling to preach. Oh, there that feeling came again just writing this! My indignation rises up and makes me want to find the guy and smack him in the head with a large print, table-top, hard-cover KJV!
It blesses my heart to read of you exodus into the freedom and joys of God’s grace. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving – you have a lot to be thankful for, that’s for sure 🙂
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Happy Thanksgiving Anthony thank you for the kind words I appreciate your writing and your responses to my writing. God bless
Truth be told brother, just this week a man I respect replied to something I wrote on Facebook, with ‘Hey? dude it’s time to love on and live in the grace gave you!’
I suppose it’s when you can learn to do that, that legalism is no longer your focus. And I’m almost there, almost.