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Churches Hurt By Christians - Every church has it difficulties. However, there are two types of very difficult Christians that hurt churches more than anything else, the legalist and the modernist. Most churches will be confronted by legalism and/or modernism and if left unchallenged... will lead that church into a pattern of grieving the Holy Spirit.
How do we discern the difference between a legalist and a modernist versus a scriptural believer?
A scriptural Believer is one who is fervent for sound biblical teaching and exemplifies holy living that is motivated and cultivated by the grace of God (Titus 2:11, 12).
The modernist reject a biblical mandate for holy standards. They don't want rules and barriers. They prefer their good intentions over the obvious commands of God's Word for holiness. A modernist prefers ideology over theology. They are motivated by toleration, not separation.
A legalist is rooted in a insecure approach to life. Their primary concern is with external matters and manners. Legalist put a greater emphasis on spiritual activities versus being spiritually active. Their cause is reformation... not transformation. They believe in salvation by works.. not salvation that does work. They find it very difficult to exercise forgiveness. This was obvious among the Pharisees in whom Jesus confronted. A Pharisee/legalist lacks understanding in the person and purpose of Jesus Christ.
Both legalist and modernist are in concert together as they demonstrate their lack of sensitivity to the indwelling Holy Spirit who enables holiness that is neither legalistic nor unreasonable. Obviously, neither legalism nor modernism has any favor from God.
While legalism focuses on outward appearance, God's grace emphasizes godliness both internally and externally. God's grace could never produce a legalist nor a modernist. It can only produce righteousness, holiness and contentment.
Contrary to the legalist; a scriptural Believer emphasizes transformation over reformation. In contrast to the modernist/ecumenicalist; the scriptural Believer emphasizes separation over toleration (2 Cor. 6:17).
It is quite possible for A Christian to be a legalist or a modernist due to a lack of understanding and growth. However, it is impossible for a Christian to remain a legalist or modernist and not be under the stern admonishment of the Holy Spirit to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (John 16:13).
Sincerely, Dr. Arthur Belanger