What Some Call Legalism, God Calls a Blessing.
The nation of Israel stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai and saw all that was happening. They felt the ground shaking beneath their feet. Then, the voice of God thundered and spoke the Ten Commandments to them. They were so terrified that they begged Moses to climb the mountain and let God personally deliver His laws to him. Their words were, “You go near and hear all that the Lord our God may say and tell us all that the Lord our God says to you” (Deut. 5:27). They then added, “And we will hear and do it.”
The Lord heard these words of commitment and the promise they made that, when the revelation of God’s message was complete, they would listen to the message and do it. His response was, “They are right in all that they have spoken” (Deut. 5:28). Some people today mock such promises of devotion to listen to what God says and a commitment to do whatever He wants. They call that legalism. Whatever derisive name they might call it, they are wrong. The Lord said that every word of the Jews spoken that day was right. To use the word legalism in this way mocks how God feels about obeying Him.
The next few verses show even further that God wants His followers to be concerned about finding His will and precisely doing what He teaches. Read the following words from our Creator and note the words I have emphasized. “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” How can anyone read these words and then sarcastically mock those who are trying to obey the Lord? Look at His words again and see that this attitude would not only be a blessing to those who had it but to their children forever.
He then told Moses, “Be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you . . . you shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you that you may live and that it may be well with you” (Deut. 5:32-33).
It is obvious that those who mock attention to finding His will and obeying it have been reading too many books and listening to far too many theologians. Their whole attitude of obedience would be changed if they would look at how God speaks about this matter. We are not at liberty to come to His word and find what pleases us and mock those who seek to obey everything He said. Read the words highlighted in the words of God quoted above. Do it all!
There is true legalism in the gospel and that legalism is that men must seek His will, love it, and obey it!