14 May 5/14/11 – The legalist vs. the compromiser [feel free to post to fb or forward] – Pastor Shane Idleman
The pendulum often swings when following truth (biblical principles). At one extreme is legalism. Legalists have self-righteous attitudes that rate spirituality by how well a person follows rules. This we want to avoid at all costs lest we become modern-day Pharisees.
A legalist often has a sliding scale mentality—the more rules and regulations a person follows, the more spiritual they become. The legalist often forgets that we are saved because of what Christ did, not by what we do. He, or she, may have the tendency to view struggling Christians as counterfeits because they don’t measure up to the standards of the legalist. Most Christians will struggle with legalism from time-to-time. That’s why it’s important to check motives, remove the “plank” from our eye, and respond in love.
The compromiser, on the other hand, is at the other extreme, and compromises God’s word. They forget that God’s absolutes are guardrails through the canyons of life. They don’t prevent us from enjoying life; they protect us from falling.I Peter 2:16 warns us “not to use liberty as a cloak for vice.” In other words, we can artfully use liberty (such as consuming alcohol) to hide addictions, sins, and destructive lifestyles. Liberty has limits—the key is to ask, “Will it build me up spiritually, or pull me down?” And, does your liberty build others up, or pull them down? “Beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak” (I Corinthians 8:9).
As I have said before, there is a very troubling trend toward moral compromise in the evangelical church. I’ve witnessed alcohol abuse, soft porn images on Christian websites, questionable movie clips during sermons, and youth pastors talk about their favorite sexually charged TV show or movie with the youth—all under the guise of “relating” to the culture.
As W. Graham Scroggie once said, “Light and darkness, right and wrong, good and evil, truth and error are incompatibles…when they compromise it is the light, the right, the good, and the truth that are damaged.” The church should not reflect or imitate the world, but lovingly confront it.
Shane Idleman is the pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship. KTLW (88.9FM in Lancaster) features his radio program at 7am on Saturdays, and Sundays at 6:30pm beginning in February. Westside Christian Fellowship meets Saturdays at 5:30pm at 6015 W Ave. J-8. For more info., visit WCFAV.org, or call (661) 524-6610. Shane’s books, articles, & radio program can be found at ShaneIdleman.com.