Generation Cedar

I was a silent observer in a conversation the other day (that doesn’t happen much 😉 and I’ve thought about it a lot since.

The banter went something like this: “Well, we haven’t had a television for years.”

“Isn’t that a little legalistic?” (May I point out, the non-tv person had not even stated why he doesn’t have a tv.)

“We just have a bunch of reasons why we don’t watch tv.”

“Well, I just think there’s a thing called ‘freedom in Christ’ …I don’t see the point of depriving yourself if you don’t have to.”

Both had legitimate points, no?

We don’t have a tv either, but I assure you it’s not from a legalistic decision. (To let you in on a personal family joke, one of the most exciting things about a new pregnancy is that my husband and I both get to sit at the hospital for 3 days, waited on hand and foot, and watch television all day 😉 I’m joking about that being one of the most exciting things…

Anyway, it got me thinking about a lot of areas where Christians tug-of-war over legalism versus personal conviction versus biblical obedience. It’s hard to draw the line for sure, and as I’ve said before, I don’t think the actual practice in question determines legalism, but the heart motive.
And I don’t think people should be questioned even for going what is perceived “overboard” by other Christians, if they simply desire to live a life pleasing to the Lord. “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off”. I don’t know about you, but that seems pretty overboard.

Anyhoo, I think it’s worth considering, for the Christian who has a heart of obedience, that the Bible is full of positive commands which imply negative commands by default. I think maybe we don’t ponder these enough.

I’ve mentioned the analogy before, but if a person says “Go to the end of the road and turn left”, that person doesn’t have to say, “Don’t turn right”. The command is implied and understood.

How many things in Scripture are we given by implied command? I’m not even going to go further into specifics, because I just wanted you to ponder it yourself. Feel free to offer your thoughts. Maybe we are more afraid of the implied “no” commands than we should be.

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7 Responses

  1. Kelly, This is so good! I would have loved to have had this to hand out the other day while family asked why I do or do not do “x”

    (while looking at me like I emerged out of the twighlight zone).

  2. I hear you sister! Piper says a lot of wonderful things and in one of his sermons he said something that I’ve been pondering over lately. He said something to the effect about believers that there are a lot of mature sinners and immature Christians in the Church. So many are just content to stick to the surface of the text and not draw the meat out. It made me think how “mature” I might be in 25 years. There’s more to ponder here-thank you for bringing up the thought! Amanda:)

  3. I am in a very “un-legalistic” community, family, church, etc. I love these people, but I do grow weary of the freedom of Christ being practically turned into a license to sin (I thank God that our pastor is one who will still preach about sin and hell, but you can’t make a horse drink either). I feel like I am being legalistic in the eyes of others, and I know it shouldn’t matter, but it does hurt me sometimes. For some reason, *my* wanting to give every aspect of my life to God, right down to the very beat of my heart and thoughts of my mind, equals me condemning everyone. I try not to let it get to me, but every now and then it causes me to doubt my strong convictions, even though it’s practically spelled out in His Word. Freedom in Christ does not equal freedom from common sense. But then it’s hard to give up what’s comfortable and mainstream, especially when we won’t listen to His voice.

    Is that legalistic of me?

  4. This post reminds me of a devotional I read the other day by Oswald Chambers. Here is part of that devotional here:

    “When God, by His Spirit through His Word, gives you a clear vision of His will, you must “walk in the light” of that vision (1 John 1:7). Even though your mind and soul may be thrilled by it, if you don’t “walk in the light” of it you will sink to a level of bondage never envisioned by our Lord. Mentally disobeying the “heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19) will make you a slave to ideas and views that are completely foreign to Jesus Christ. Don’t look at someone else and say, “Well, if he can have those views and prosper, why can’t I?” You have to “walk in the light” of the vision that has been given to you. Don’t compare yourselves with others or judge them-that is between them and God . . . “

    Taken from, “My Utmost for His Highest;” devotional entitled, “Deserter or Disciple?”

    Instead of judging others, we need to be looking heavenward toward Christ to see how He can “use” us to glorify His will.

  5. Sometimes those who are using the “that’s so legalistic” argument are just feeling convicted about the same area in their lives that they haven’t given over to the Lord.

    Then again, sometimes those who are showing people the areas of their lives that are different from main stream are just in it for “the show”.

    I agree with Mrs. Lady Sofia’s point that we need to most concerned with what God thinks about our life choices, not those around us.

    BTW, we have a TV with just antenna reception (2 channels) and one of the exciting parts about our vacations is watching cable at the hotel ;o) — not that there’s much worth watching!

  6. I’ve mentioned the analogy before, but if a person says “Go to the end of the road and turn left”, that person doesn’t have to say, “Don’t turn right”. The command is implied and understood.

    That’s true. But the thing is, maybe the instruction is, today you should go to the end of the road and turn left. And then maybe tomorrow you actually ARE supposed to turn right.

    God leads us along our path, and of course He is the Way, but sometimes He leads us in different directions than He has before, and different directions than we would expect. That’s when it’s so important to allow not just for God’s voice in Scripture, but for God’s tugging at our hearts by His Holy Spirit. Of course, the Holy Spirit will not contradict Himself as revealed in Scripture, but in terms of things not directly revealed in Scripture (for instance, whether or not you should have a television in your home or only wear dresses or homeschool), we MUST listen to the Holy Spirit instead of what those around us are doing.

    It is one thing if God reveals something to you and you comply. That’s noteworthy, remarkable, good, and blessed. It is a completely other thing if we as Christians get to a place of law instead of love. That was Jesus’ beef with everything. If there was ever a foe of legalism, it was Christ. He spit in the dirt and rubbed mud in people’s eyes. He – gasp! – healed on the Sabbath. He touched lepers. He seemingly broke a lot of God’s revealed law, but we know in spite of this that He didn’t sin.

    So if you feel that the Word or the Holy Spirit is leading you to change your behavior (start doing something, stop doing something), great. Obediently yield to Him.

    There are really only two ways that simple obedience becomes legalism:

    1. We begin to think we can derive our righteousness from it. In other words, when we start following the law instead of trusting that Christ has fulfilled it, we err and may potentially be falling into the sin of pride and making a mockery of grace and Christ’s sacrifice.

    2. When we start thinking everyone else should be living out our own convictions. If not, they must not be as spiritual as we are. This includes thinking less of those around us who are not doing this particular thing that God has told us to do. Remember, each of God’s children is an individual. God would have been infuriated with Noah if he’d refused to build an ark, but He wasn’t upset with Nehemiah for not doing so. An ark was Noah’s task; a wall was Nehemiah’s.

    God gives each of us our own convictions and our own path to walk. If we walk in the path of obedience, that is praiseworthy; but if we chastise others for not walking our path, we’re missing the point.

    I’m by no means a universalist, and by “one’s own path” I certainly don’t mean whatever religion one wants. I simply mean that Christianity is freedom, and God leads each of us on a uniquely designed walk with Him.

  7. I agree with Lori Belle.

    I also think of a few paraphrased verses:

    -All things are permissable, but not all things are beneficial

    -Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block in your brothers way

    -Do all things to the glory of God

    I like the phrase that we all need to keep our eyes on our own “spiritual papers” and be careful not to look onto or judge the papers of others (except for situations where admonishment, encouragment or rebuke apply).

    I like this post, and the questions it causes us to ask. Why do we do “x”. I agree that we should all be intentional with our actions and know why we do things and do them to the glory of God. The issue isn’t having a TV or not having a TV, it’s the heart. Someone without a TV could be prideful of not having a TV and judge those who do have one, therefore making that decision a stumbling block to them, or someone who does have one could allow it to become an idol in their home. So TV, or whatever it is you do, do it to the glory of God my sisters!


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