Bible Studies/Legalism

Advertisement


Question
Thank you so much as always! At what point does obeying the commandments of God out of a loving heart become legalistic? In other words when one reads the New Testament, finds commandments and keeps them out of a loving heart, when would this become legalistic?

Answer
Nice to hear again from you, Josh.  Trust you are OK in Tennessee.
I recall that we discussed the better motive for obeying God -- accepting His teachings and observing His commands  [especially to love God and neighbor].  
Also, I think we discussed Paul's talking about legalism in 1 Cor 7 and 9.
"Legalism" has several nuances.  For example: To obey God involves following His "laws" -- that is good.  To obey Him because of love -- that is better and best.  
I strive to obey because of love [see 1 John].  However, sometimes I might not have that motivation but still do not sin -- if someone hits me, I might not hit back because of not wanting to be charged legally with battery.  I would hope that I could turn the other cheek.  However, better to be legalistic than to act contrarily to God's will.
To attempt to be philosophical: To obey because of fear of God's or huma punishment[legalism], that is not sin, but it is better/best to obey because of love of God and neighbor.
Does that make sense or help?
As you know, I welcome your comments.
May God bless you with much and many helps!

Bible Studies

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Edward Bode

Expertise

A scholar of Jewish and Christian scripture (biblical studies), I hold graduate degrees from three universities in Rome [Italy]: Pontifical Gregorian University, Pontifical Biblical Institute, and the University of St. Thomas. I also have a master's degree in English. My special interests are the gospels of the New Testament and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Experience

I have taught at three universities and two colleges. My published works include one book, several articles in scholarly journals, and numerous book reviews.

I hold a doctorate in sacred theology from the University of St. Thomas in Rome, Italy; a license in sacred scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome; a license in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.Additionally, I earned a master's degree in English from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo., and a bachelor of journalism from the same university.

I have been a member of the Catholic Biblical Association of America for 40 years. I am a former member of Society of Biblical Literature.I have spoken on academic topics to local, national, and international groups.

Education/Credentials
I hold graduate degrees from three universities in Rome [Italy]: Pontifical Gregorian University, Pontifical Biblical Institute, and the University of St. Thomas. I also have a master's degree in English.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.