Legalism vs Holiness

About LEGALISM – Andrew Strom

During our “TV” discussion someone posted a very interesting poem. I can’t tell if it is somewhat “tongue in cheek” but it certainly opens up the discussion of what is ‘Legalism’ and what is ‘Holiness’. Below is a portion of this poem, followed by my own comments:

by Bill Harper

The Holiness preacher, a Godly man, was seen riding his circuit with Bible in hand. He rode in sunshine and he rode in rain, he rode when he felt good, and he rode in pain…

Often he fasted, God’s will to achieve, striving for perfection, lest the Spirit he’d grieve. Often his congregation numbered just a few. He preached without compromise and he helped them pray through…

He preached against demon rum and the dance. He spoke against painted up women and games of chance. The Holiness preacher, a Godly man, kept up with the times, God’s kingdom to expand…

Few people attended in fancy clothes. They didn’t come to look at others, down their nose. As he entered into this modern age he preached against radio as though in a rage.

Avoid the theater also he’d say. Avoid worldliness, walk the strait narrow way. When moving pictures made their debut he preached against this devil’s invention so new.

Movies corrupted our morals said he, the things they portrayed weren’t fit for Christians to see. During the depression he bought a tent, in which to hold meetings, telling men to repent…

ANDREW AGAIN: The poem about “The Holiness Preacher” above is certainly well-done. But can I just say this, my friends – The old-time “Holiness” movement that concerned itself with “dancing” and “bobbed hair” and ‘no makeup for women’, etc, is NOT where I am coming from with this TV thing.

A lot of those concerns were about “outward” things – and easily descended into legalism. I truly believe that TV is gaining access to the “heart” of man – and that is my main concern. It slowly and gradually fills people’s minds and lives with complete junk.

To be frank with you, I don’t care about “bobbed hair” and I have been known to dance enthusiastically with my wife at weddings, etc. – and also to take her out to the Cinema on occasion. Does that make me “unholy”? Is that what we think “holiness” is about? Is it all about these ‘outward’ things?

I have to confess to you – when I first read the poem about the “Holiness preacher” the only thing that sprang to my mind was that it was not real Holiness – but rather “Legalism” that this man represented. And yes – this became a huge problem in the old Holiness circles. You had to have your hair the “right” way and your dress the “right” way and never attend movies or dances and on and on.

The only real Holiness I am interested in preaching is Holiness of the HEART. If our focus is on mere “outward” things then all we will get from our preaching is a bunch of ‘Legalists’ who do and say all the “right” things – but their hearts are proud and self-righteous.

I greatly fear that many “holiness” circles today have the same legalistic tendencies. It is all about the “right” music styles and head coverings and long dresses – and the ‘Heart’ is forgotten in the rush to get all these “outward” things right. This is no Holiness at all. God is after a pure heart. He wants the INSIDE of the cup to be cleaned – rather than all this focus on the ‘outside’.

We need to apply this Scripture – “To the pure all things are pure.” This is a place of tremendous freedom – but only if we truly have a pure heart.

Can we please learn the difference between Holiness and Legalism, my friends, so this generation does not repeat many of the same errors as our ‘Holiness’ forefathers?

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God bless you all!

Andrew Strom.

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Contemplative Prayer, Mysticism & Kundalini

What is contemplative prayer ?


“Christians are being exhorted to put their minds on hold through meditation and take a step into the supernatural realm. Is it biblical to connect with the supernatural realm? In an interview with Emergent leader Rob Bell, founding pastor of Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, MI, he made the following comment: “Central to the Christian tradition, for thousands of years, have been disciplines of meditation, reflection, silence, and breathing. It was understood that to be a healthy person, to be fully connected with God, and fully centered you would spend significant parts of your day in silence–breathing, meditating–praying allowing the Spirit of God to transform you and touch you.” So ordinary people spent significant parts of their day in silence, meditating? ”

“Even if it were true, nowhere in the Bible are God’s people encouraged to stop using their minds and to connect with the supernatural world. Believers are to worship God with their heart, strength, mind and soul. In an altered state of consciousness the mind is not engaged, it’s blank! ”

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What is a Pagan? What is Paganism?

Question: “What is a pagan? What is Paganism?”

Answer: From a Christian viewpoint, pagans are generally characterized as those who are caught up in any religious ceremony, act, or practice that is not distinctly Christian. Correspondingly, Jews and Muslims also use the term “pagans” to describe those outside their religion. Others define the term “paganism” as any religion outside of Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and Christianity; whereas some argue that it is anyone with no religion at all.

Paganism comes from the Latin word paganus, which means “country dweller” and can refer to polytheism or the worship of more than one god, such as in ancient Rome. A pagan is also considered to be one who, for the most part, has no religion and indulges in worldly delights and material possessions; someone who reveres in sensual pleasures; a hedonistic or self-indulgent individual. Another more modern term is “neo-paganism” which refers to some of the contemporary forms of paganism such as Wicca , Druidry, and Gwyddons.

These modern “pagan” practices are actually similar to their ancient counterparts in that they rely heavily on hedonism—sensual gratification and self-indulgence and the pursuit of happiness and pleasure to the exclusion of everything else. In ancient times, sexual ceremonies were a major part of pagan religions. The Old Testament references these perverted religions in such passages as Deuteronomy 23:17, Amos 2:7-8, and Isaiah 57:7-8.

Though they are numerous and varied in their practices and beliefs, pagans do hold to some similar beliefs. For example:

• The physical world is a good place, one to be taken pleasure in by everyone.
• Everyone is considered to be part of this Mother Earth.
• Divinity reveals itself in every facet of the world.
• Every being, man and animal, is a derivative of the Divine. As such all are gods and goddess.
• Most pagan religions do not have gurus or messiahs.
• Doctrine is superseded by one’s own responsibility.
• Solar and lunar cycles are significant in pagan worship.

Any form of paganism is false doctrine. Paul addressed this perversion of the truth in his letter to the believers in Rome ( Romans 1:22-27). These people were worldly and materialistic, worshipping created things rather than the Creator. They worshipped trees, animals, and rocks, going so far as to abuse their bodies in deviant sexual practices to revel in their passions. Paul then goes on to tell us why they did this and the end result:

“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done” ( Romans 1:28).

In spite of common assumptions, most pagan worshipers claim they don’t believe in Satan. However, there’s no question that Satan is their chief source of influence and control. Though they will deny it, they deify him in their worldly and sensual practices. Paul tells us plainly how Satan works in the lives of people without God, through his power, his signs, his deceit, his lies:

“The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness” ( 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

That Satan is alive and well is powerfully evidenced in these pagan practices. This was not only clear in the times of the 1st century church, but also in today’s post-modern world. To the faithful believers who know the Lord, pagan worship is what it appears to be—the power and deceit of the prince of this world, Satan ( 1 John 5:19) who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” ( 1 Peter 5:8). As such, it should be avoided.


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