The other day I was having a conversation with a good friend and somehow we got into a discussion on prayer. He mentioned that a while back he had been asked to give the closing prayer at a meeting of his churches leadership and when he finished one of the deacons leaned over and said ‘you did that wrong, you forgot “In Jesus Name”.’
I hope y’all can immediately see the twofold problem with that comment. First “In Jesus Name” is not some mystic, magical, saying that is mandatory at the end of every prayer. Second, demanding such a thing is unbiblical and legalistic.
Neither the word legalism or legalist are found in the bible; yet sadly they are found in many evangelical churches today.
A legalist or legalism appears in the church when someone:
- Places more emphasis upon God’s Laws than upon fellowship with God himself
- Keeping the letter of the Law but ignoring the Spirit of the Law
- Adding to the Laws of God with man’s rules or traditions
- Tries to keep the Law to obtain Salvation
- Tries to maintain salvation by good works (keeping the law)
- Finds contempt in others who do not have the same holiness (law keeping ability) as them
Legalism is a sin. Yet it is overlook in most all churches. A newcomer to the church may arrive with baggage (ex-convict, recently divorced, etc.) and they will be looked upon as different for their past by the legalist but woe to anyone who questions the legalist motives.
Jesus had no use for legalists and called them out, telling them Luke 11:37-54 their day of judgement was coming. Do you know a legalist in your church? Pray for them, for woe unto them on judgement day.