The Lethal danger of Legalism


One of the greatest enemies of the gospel in Namibia is legalism. Most people in Namibia are confident that they are Christians based on what they have done. Some believe that they are Christians because they were baptized as babies, some because they pray and go to church occasionally. This is dangerous thinking which has eternal consequences. This is this the complete opposite of what the Bible teaches. And so in this article I wish to first all give a scenario about a fictional character who reflects the reality of a lot people who claim to be Christian in Namibia. I will then look at the life of Judas Iscariot to show that legalism does not save. Finally, I will demonstrate from the Bible that only the true Gospel of Jesus Christ saves.

A true descriptive story with a fictional character

Let’s imagine Richard Tangeni Kavetu is a 34 year old men who lives and works in Windhoek. He is a member at one of the churches in Katutura. He works for Nedbank, he is a weekend drunkard and has multiple sex partners. Richard believes he is a Christian because he was baptized as a Baby, and was confirmed when he was 14. Richard occasionally attends church if he doesn’t get too drunk on Saturday (which is once in 3 months). He is fully convinced that he is a Christian and when he dies he will go to heaven. Richard represents majority of Namibians who claim to be Christians.
The burning question is: Is Richard truly a Christian according to the Bible?

The life of Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot is a good example of someone who spend a lot of time with Jesus but was not saved in the first place. Like Richard, he identifies himself with Jesus Christ. He was one of the twelve disciples (Matthew 10:4), he was with Jesus throughout his ministry. He was also the treasurer of the group (John 12:4-6). And yet he was full of greed and was a thief (John 12:6) and he also betrayed Jesus in the end because of the love he had for money (John 13:21-30, Luke 22:3-6). This man had all the outward appearance of a follower of Christ but he was not changed on the inside, he did not know the Lord Jesus Christ in a saving way.

This is true today, we can go Church, we can be baptized (as babies or adults), we can be confirmed, we can even be leaders in the Church but these things do not earn points us to heaven nor do they mean that we are saved. That only thing that saves us is when we repent of our sins and put our trust in Jesus Christ.

The True Gospel

We need to realize two things if we are to understand the seriousness of what we are dealing with.
Firstly, we need to realize that we are sinners, that we are born sinners. When Adam disobeyed God, sin came into the world, and the whole human race was affected by it (Romans 5:12). And so we are born in sin (Psalm 51:5), every aspect of our being is affected by sin (Romans 3:10-18), sin is what we want to do, we always want to do that which is contrary to God’s will. Because of our sin the wrath of God is upon us (Ephesians 2:3), and our punishment is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Because of our sin our relationship with God is utterly broken, God is angry with us, there is nothing that we can do that will please him.

Even our best works disgust him “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6). And so trying to do good works to please God is a waste of time, we need to look to something else or someone else beyond ourselves to help us, to fix our broken relationship with God.

Secondly, we need to realize that it is only the Lord Jesus Christ who can save us and fix our broken relationship with God. Jesus Christ is God who became men. As he walked on this earth, he lived a perfect life. He obeyed God fully, he kept the law of God fully, he never sinned, everything about his life pleased God the father (Hebrews 4:15, 7:26-28). He also died once and for all as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, he paid for them and rose again from the dead so that we may have the newness of life and eternal life with God. What Jesus did through his life, death and resurrection is more than enough to reconcile us to God.

After Paul became a Christian, he realized how useless all his efforts were compared to what he had in Christ. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” Philippians 3:8-9. Trying to do good works to please God will never work, it’s a waste of time, only turn to Christ like Paul in repentance and faith. You need to acknowledge that you a wicked sinner, whose relationship with God is broken and trust that it is only Jesus who can save you and bring you back to God.

An Appeal

So I appeal to you dear friend cry out to God, ask him to forgive you your sins, to make you alive and to grand you faith. Stop this foolishness of thinking that your good works can save you, it can never and will never save you. Look to God for your salvation, look to Christ alone for your salvation.

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