Churches Of Christ/Legalism

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Question
Thanks so much! 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
A lot of this is going to depend on how one defines the term 'legalistic'.  At its basic level, legalistic simply means strict adherence to the law.  In that way, Jesus was the most legalistic person ever to exist because He never broke a law.

In the more modern and connotative way, legalistic has come to be confused with Pharisaism, which is when one adds their own laws on top of the the duly authorized law (God's Law in this case).

In the first sense, the answer is never.  In fact John 14:15 ties love of God to keeping His commandments.

In the sense of becoming like the Pharisees, demanding more than the law demands, that's not love of God or others, but love of self, which is the opposite (Matt. 15:9).  I would argue that if one is obeying the commandments of God out of love, then one cannot be Pharisaical.

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Ernie Laurence, Jr.

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I am capable of answering any questions concerning doctrines of the church of Christ. I specialize in Creation vs. Evolution topics, the book of Revelation and other Biblical prophecies, and other apologetics related topics such as distinctions from denominational doctrines.

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My experience in this area includes: having been raised by members of the church of Christ from infancy, having been immersed into the church of Christ at age ten, having taken an active role in worship/service leadership (song leading, teaching, preaching, youth ministry) since age fourteen through the present, and participating in numerous formal debates, research projects, and online discussions.

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I hold a bachelor's degree in computer information systems (CIS) from Tarleton State University which focuses on business communication and management. This provided training for how to deal professionally with individuals and organizations if not direct training in the field of religion. See experience section for informal education experience.

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