Legalism is something we must certainly be on guard against. But we must also be sure that we know just what legalism actually is… or more specifically, what it is not. It is not legalism to tell Christians to stop doing what the Bible tells them to stop doing.
Excerpt taken from the full sermon, “No Longer Perishing in Futility“.
Sometimes people – you can never please anybody, and with James throwing everything out on the Internet, we get attacked from both sides. We get people that say that we don’t deal with sin and we’re antinomian. But then we get charges that we’re legalists. And brethren, I want to tell you this, using negatives is not legalism. Paul repeatedly tells these Christians throughout these verses not to do things. Notice, Ephesians 4:26, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” V. 27, “Give no opportunity to the devil.” V. 28, “Let the thief no longer steal.” You know what it’s saying? Stop letting the sun go down on your anger. Stop with unrighteous anger. Stop giving opportunity to the devil. Stop stealing. V. 29: Stop with the corrupting talk. V. 30: Stop grieving the Spirit. Ch 5:3 – Stop looking at pornography. Stop with the sexual immorality. Ch 5:4 – Stop with the filthiness. Stop with foolish talk. Stop with crude joking. Ch 5:7 – Stop being partners with people that are sexually immoral and impure and covetous. Ch 5:11 – Stop taking part in the unfruitful works of darkness. Ch 5:15 – Stop being unwise. Ch 5:17 – Stop being foolish. Ch 5:18 – Stop getting drunk. Brethren, there’s a place to say to Christians: Stop it! Stop! Stop that life! That’s what he’s saying to these people. You say, wow, that’s all pretty negative. Yeah, there’s a lot of positive in there. But what I’m saying is this: When you tell people, “you need to stop doing that,” and you tell people these kind of things, that’s not legalism. That is encouraging the same kind of godliness that the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Spirit is encouraging us with. Brethren, when you no longer live the way you used to live, you’re going to stop doing a whole bunch of stuff that you used to do. That’s just a reality. We need to stop. We need to say to Christians: No longer! No longer! Quit it! Brethren, there’s a place for Christians to say to themselves – speak to yourself – That’s it! I’m done with that. Stop it. Where are the Christians like I talked about years ago in a message that I preached from Psalm 119, but where are the Christians who like David are going to say: “I promise to keep Your words.”