Why Is Legalism Better

God doesn`t just care about our actions. He wants our heart first, for a heart that loves Him will naturally produce works that glorify Him. He doesn`t need us to act righteously, He wants us to love Him so He can create righteousness in us. Without Christ, every “good” thing we produce will be completely worthless. So the solution to legalism is not less rules, but more Christ. But this shows us the greatest danger of legalism. When we focus primarily on what we are doing, there is very little need to examine our heart. We let our actions stand before God as justification, regardless of the heart behind them. But Christ finds nothing but sadness when we think so. The solution of legalism, like all sin, begins in the heart.

This requires humility and conversion. We must see that good external deeds are produced by a dirty heart. We must hate this heart and the false justice it produces. The promise of the Old Covenant was that as long as they remained faithful to obedience to God, He would bless them (Hebrews 8:9), but the promise of the new covenant tells us that because Jesus cleanses our sins and presents Himself as our perfect righteousness, God will no longer remember our sins (verse 12). Forgotten sins, the fruit of our repentance of the gospel, are always better than relying on our own inadequate goodness. The Pharisee was filled with self-righteousness and regarded his good works and religious lifestyle as his means of justification before God. He is more than happy to let God know why he is so much better than smallpox in society, brags about his good works, and remembers that his works have placed him in another category of sinner. This is because legalism is a system that thrives on personal fulfillment, personal dominance and, unfortunately, trampling on others. He relentlessly suppresses grace, mercy and humility. Our motivations for legalism may vary, but the great danger is the same for all of us. If we break it down, legalism is little more than a series of boxes and ticks. We make an exhausting list of “do this, don`t do that,” and if we stick to it, we feel right before God.

Legalism was not only against Confucianism, but could not tolerate it. After the adoption of legalism by the Qin Dynasty, Confucianism faced the very real threat of extinction. This was true of the work of Xunzi, the Confucian reformer, as well as any other Confucian work, although Xunzi Han Feizi inspired the foundation of legalism. In reality, the claim that people are essentially selfish and act only out of self-interest was only one aspect of Xunzi`s philosophy. He argued that people could become better than they are, not only through laws, but also through self-discipline, education and observance of rituals. In design, grace is easier. It is a free gift. Grace seems to be the obvious choice, but legalism is actually easier than grace. Legalism feeds our pride; Grace requires humility.

Legalism requires no remorse and maintains control over our lives. Legalism requires only knowledge of God rather than relationship with Him. Legalism remains under control. Legalism is simple. In ancient times, the Son of Heaven was not instituted and valued for the benefit of the individual. It is said that if everything under heaven lacks the only [person] of value, then there is no way to apply the principles [of an orderly government, li 理]. Therefore, the Son of heaven is established under heaven for the sake of all, it is not that everything under heaven was established for the sake of the Son of heaven. Even if the law is bad, it is better than the absence of laws; It unites people`s hearts. (Shenzi, 16; Harris, 2016: 110). And this brings us to our last quick feature of legalism.

It may not be easier to accept the grace offered in the gospel and walk in an intimate relationship with God, but it is certainly better. Legalism is a remnant of the old covenant, and Hebrews 8:6 tells us that “Christ has obtained a ministry so much more excellent than the old, as the covenant he gives is better, because it is fulfilled for better promises.” If sin is a cancer, legalism is not the cure. It only hides the symptoms. It makes us ignore the reality of our misery by suppressing its clear manifestations. It makes us hide our defilement under a mask of purity and justice. We prioritize good appearance to others at the expense of our own soul. To prevent wrongdoing and put an end to transgressions, there is nothing better than tougher penalties. When the sentences are harsh and [criminals] are inevitably caught, then people dare not [break the law]. Therefore, there are no punished persons in the state.

If there are no punished persons in the state, it says: “Clarifying punishments [means] no executions. (Shang jun shu 17:101; Shang jun shu 17:3) This definition is quite broad because it would take an entire article to really address legalism, but it should give us a good basis for discussing why legalism, adding rules instead of freedom through Christ, is so appealing. And that, I think, is the best thing about legalism. Our hearts are terrible things, completely out of control, and need pure trust in God to keep us from straying from the path. It requires hatred for the things that promise us so much joy and happiness. We must kill our sin daily and persecute God in a sinful world that encourages us to make our own gods. Surprisingly, the cure for legalism is not to “abandon all the rules.” This is called antinomianism, and it oscillates just as dangerously in the other direction. Everything we do begins in our hearts. If we want to gain favor or feel better, we can read our Bible and pray. If we want to spend time with the God we love and worship, we can read and pray our Bible. Both hearts produce the same action, but God hates one and loves the other.

Actions have little meaning because it depends on motivation. For more than 200 years, the Chinese people have experienced war as their daily reality, and a legalistic approach to trying to control people`s worst impulses – controlling people through the threat of severe punishment for injustice – would have been the best way to deal with the chaos. Shang Yang`s legalism dealt with everyday situations, but also extended to how to behave in wartime, and he is credited with the tactic of total war, which allowed the Qin state to defeat other warring states in order to control China. When we rely on God, He receives all glory. While our proud hearts yearn for our own glory, God`s glory is always better. It is the main purpose of our lives to glorify God, and when we accomplish this right purpose, we receive true joy and satisfaction. In this admittedly long post, I would like to highlight some of the dangers of legalism. During the Qin Dynasty, all books that did not support legalistic philosophy were burned, and writers, philosophers, and teachers of other philosophies were executed. The excesses of legalism of the Qin Dynasty made the regime very unpopular with the people of the time. After the fall of Qin, legalism was abandoned in favor of Confucianism, which significantly influenced the development of Chinese culture. Basically, this is really a violation of legalism. Jesus tells us a parable that goes to the heart of legalism.

This is how legalism works. It is a competitive environment. The Wal-Mart rush happened because there were a limited number of Blue Rays. We pretend that there are only a limited number of places for ourselves, and so we have cut off others, biting and devouring each other to reach our price. We mistakenly think that competition is between us and others, so we set rules and demolish others; to judge and deceive each other. What is legalism? In its most basic sense, legalism believes that we can earn or retain God`s favor by what we do. We studied Galatians in our evening care groups. One of the most useful moments of this study for me was the connection between legalism and dispute.

Or, to put it another way, with the absence of the gospel, you have the presence of conflicts. Shen Dao presents his political credo with rare clarity. A leader is crucial to the proper functioning of the political system; It is the very foundation of the political order, not a beneficiary but a servant of humanity. Significantly, the ruler obtains these blessed results by the mere fact of his existence and not by his morality or intelligence. As Shen Dao makes clear, bad laws are better than a lawless situation, and we can conclude that a bad leader is better than anarchy. What counts, as Shen Dao explains elsewhere, are not the individual qualities of the leader, but his ability to maintain his “positional power” (or “power of authority”, shi勢).