How to distinguish between legalism and order?

I have received some more messages where I was asked to explain the difference between legalism and order. Here are two essential distinctions on this subject:

1. The legalism always comes with imposed rules as a condition for people to receive their salvation. It is written very much about legalism and living by the grace of God in the Epistle of Paul to Galatians. Galatia was a region of the Roman Empire where Apostle Paul came and preached the Gospel. The habitants of that region were from Gentiles, pagans, and they didn’t know and didn’t have any relations with The Law of Moses, that God gave to Jews to keep it until the coming of Christ. So, when Paul came in Galatia and preached the Gospel, a lot of them believed and were saved the way that every man can be saved – only through faith in Jesus Christ. After Paul left, there came some legalistic Jews, who were teaching Christians from Galatia that it is not sufficient for their faith only to believe in Jesus Christ, but they have to respect and other things from The Law of Moses, such as circumcision, etc. Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians  very angrily:

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:1–3)

Those who came to the Galatians were trying to enforce them laws of the Old Testament, given only to the people of Israel and only for a specific period of time – until the coming of Jesus Christ. Today, in many churches, many times, the religious and legalistic people invent rules that have no dealings with the Bible, they are only inventions of their minds and of their sinful flesh. The Bilble qualifies these imposed rules as “fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.” (Titus 1:14)

2. The order is necessary to accomplish the set goal.  The legalism referes to the laws and commandments invented by people that deviate from the truth and that promise by keeping these commandments enheritance of salvation. Usually, these religious persons are evil-minded and impose these rules to all people. They don’t see and don’t admit God’s ministry outside the rules of their legalism. It is not the same with order, or discipline. It is necessary to accomplish the set goal and it must be a life’s part of every person and church. So, Apostle Paul, when he speaks about his own discipline in preaching the Gospel, he compares himself with the sportsmen of the ancient world and says:

And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:25–27)

The Christian must have a disciplined and ordered life. This discipline has to be seen in every domain and especially in the preaching of the Gospel. In the same way, we need some rules to mantain order in our churches, “for God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the congregations of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33). In chapter 14 of the first Epistle to Corinthians, Apostle Paul speaks about the importance of the order in the church and ends with the conclusion:“Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40)

At the end, I would like to emphasize once again the main distinctions between legalism and order:

  1. The legalism imposes non-sense rules that are considered absolutely necessary for the salvation of people.

  2. The legalism is an evil that alienates people from a life with God and steals the joy of living by grace.

  3. The order is necessary to accomplish the set goal.

  4. Every good Christian and church must learn to mantain a good discipline.

    Translated by Djugostran Felicia