Under Grace Versus Under Legalism

This is Bible Study DU010 - Under Grace Versus Under Legalism by Michelle Villaça

I've been thinking a lot about God's grace versus condemnation, and what it means for a person to be in and live in God's grace in contrast to being under legalism. I'm still feeling like I'm missing some connections in understanding, especially how legalism may work in sustaining abuse (examples: spiritual abuse, and/or emotional abuse, and/or physical abuse). These are some of my opinions and just thought I'd share what's been on my mind lately.

The things used by Satan (and others) to put people under law can take such varied forms, that these things used can mask or distract or hide the big root of being put under the law, and transfer our focus to the specific thing used, for example such as speaking in tongues or not speaking in tongues, or for example, to use or to not use instruments in worship, for example, to lift your hands in worship or to not lift your hands in worship, so our focus gets on the issue of A, B, C, or D, instead of recognizing and dealing directly with a big root issue and problematic consequences of being under law.

Trying to work out things or issues as they come in our lives can help us see and understand what being under law does and feels like. But to stop at the one thing or issue does not deal with the big underlying root of being under law. Instead, we often deal with the decoy issue at hand, and think we are free from the law, and all is solved, then, when we least expect it another thing pops up, a different thing that draws us and deceives us into yielding to it and being put under law.

By deception it draws us. It is not the same exact bait issue that was used the previous time, and so we do not recognized the danger; we do not recognize law in the various kinds of disguises it hides behind. If we think it is only about the specific thing or issue we are dealing with, then we may not recognize that there may be more going on.

Satan can take an issue, use it from either point of view (example believing in tongues, as well as not believing in tongues) and try to put the person under law, no matter the point of view. I'll try to explain my thinking on this. Even speaking scripture word for word can be done by the Holy Spirit ministering grace, or by a wrong spirit ministering condemnation. Jesus, 40 days in the wilderness, Satan applied pressure and tempted Jesus using God's word wrongly. Gal 1:6-9. Preach Gal 1:10 and ask ourself if we are seeking favour of men? or seeking favour of God?

Some thoughts and opinions:

Man's fleshly mind is a different type of mind than the mind of Christ which is given by God. God's wisdom is different than man's wisdom. It is so good that we can ask God for His wisdom as described in James chapter one.

We can distinguish between the Holy Spirit and His out workings contrasted to fleshly works, which if allowed to continually operate can lead (in my opinion) to demonic workings as described in Galatians chapter 5. Also in Corinthians God's type of love is described.

We can look at things and situations and ask ourselves questions (See also Galatians 1:10): Am I seeking the favour, striving to please, trying to please a person, persons, organization, or institution?

Do I obey a man's, woman's, religious institution or organization's word and or traditions to me, or do I obey God's word to me?

It seems like the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of death, ministry of law, helps support and keep in place bondage and abuse in various forms. I'm still pondering this.

Any kind of domination over and control over a person causes wounds, hurts, pains. No person should be controlled or dominated, not by another person and not by institutions, organizations, or religion. In my opinion this is a big thing, because God places a high value on each individual's personhood and freewill.

In my opinion it is God's will that every single human be saved, however, not every human will be saved, unfortunately. Some if not many will chose to reject Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, and consequences of not coming into the salvation God has provided will result. Not every human being will chose to believe in Jesus Christ.

I have never seen in the Bible anywhere where God used such tactics as : force, coercion, pressuring, bullying, frightening, browbeating, demoralizing, intimidating, manipulating, dominating, guilt-tripping, enslaving, deceiving, tricking, using and abusing a person into believing in Jesus and thus becoming saved. However, very sad to say, I have heard people who claim to be of God do such things to people, all the in the name of "God," and for supposedly "godly" goals or outcomes.

Since God places such a high value on an individuals free will, why would men and women and religious leaders and/or ministers think they have the right to disregard a persons free will and individual personhood under the disguise of "God," "godly," or "religion" ?

If a person or religion or Satan can get access to you by your yielding and submitting to it (even if you yield after being terrorized, or even if you yield after being deceived, or even if you yield after being worn down and exhausted, or even if you yield because of A, B, C or D,) then I think the control over you, or domination over you takes some of your ground, or personhood, or your land, or your free will, and then places these areas of you into areas of bondage. (See the entire book of Galatians; Galatians 2:4-5)

But no matter what, Jesus Christ is the answer! Call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (saved, healed, delivered). And submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you! Praises to the God of the Bible! The God of Abraham! What a promise, "you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free," and "neither height, nor depth, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor life, nor death, nothing, no created being shall be able to separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The ministry of condemnation, law cannot impart life. (Galatians 3:21) (Galatians 5:4) (2 Cor. 3:6-9) (Romans 7:6)

The Lord has redeemed us who were under law. (Gal 4:5; see also the entire book of Galatians) (2 Cor. 5:17) (Romans 8:2) Gal 5:17 flesh vs. spirit Gal 5:18 flesh and law vs. spirit and faith working through love Gal 5:19-20 flesh deeds.

Gal 5:22 fruit of Holy Spirit. The issue of self control -- I think with the Lord we always have the ability to choose yes or no, and that this helps us discern things of His Spirit. For example if someone says "I couldn't stop A, B, C, D because the Holy Spirit was making me do A, B, C, D", I would see a big red flag because one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self control. I think that spirits that seek to dominate other people's free will is Satan, demons, and sometimes other people try to do this.

Wisdom from God is different from mans wisdom. (James 1:5) (James 3:13-18) (2 Corinthians 1:12) (1 Corinthians 18:31) (2 Corinthians 2:1)

We all need discernment and need to exercise discernment, no matter if we are not Pentecostal (aka charismatic, Spirit-filled, believing in Baptism of Holy Spirit) (I'm not referring to any denomination.) and in the same way no matter if we are Pentecostal, deception is not just one shade.

Deception is a powerful weapon Satan uses against all people. Deception has its workings in non-Pentecostal churches and believers and methods, and in the same way deception has its workings in Pentecostal churches and believers and methods. I used to think that non-Pentecostal churches were "safer" because there would be no visible manifestations of the Holy Spirit, thus supposedly no opportunity for the devil to imitate and counterfeit Gods gifts.

However, I now have come to think that even a preacher can preach and read directly from the Bible word for word, but it can be ministered by a wrong spirit to the people. (Wrong spirit examples could be from a love of money; pride and arrogance; control over and domination and manipulation; condemnation and guilt; hate, etc.) If it is not the Holy Spirit ministering then it is definitely not good! Remember Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days and Satan ministered scripture to Jesus, wrongly of course! (Luke 4:9-11)

We are all susceptible to being deceived. I don't think it is an option to not practice to train ourselves to tell the difference between what is good and what is evil. There are many shades of evil, of what is not genuine; some are easier to see some are very difficult to see, but the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, He will show us what we need to know.

Picture two different vases, one on the left and the other on the right. They appear to be the exact same type and style of vase by looking at them. They appear to be the same, by outward appearance.

Now picture two different people, one on the left and the other on the right. The one on the left is reading the same scripture, word for word, as the one on the right. They appear to be speaking the same thing, by outward appearance.

In outward appearance either of these two examples of what's described on the left compared to what's described on the right seem the same. The outward appearance of an image, person, idea, concept, or ideal, may seem to be the same thing, but inwardly, what is at the core may be very different from each other.

Some questions we may ask could be: What is the actual experience? What does it have an effect on? What are the ensuing consequences and or results over time? What is on the inside, the core? Does the outward appearance match, or contradict what is on the inside? What is the inside content? What does the Bible say about it? Is it in agreement with the fruit of the Holy Spirit as described in the Bible? Etc.

People, or even ways to do things can give an impression, or even present an image. Does the reality of someone or something, or some method, or tradition result from the person being filled with the life and Spirit of God, and does this then give out unto an expression of life, specifically the life of God, through the power and life of the Holy Spirit as He pours Himself out through the vessel?

Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, But faith working through love.

1 John 4:8-9 (8) The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (9) By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

John 4:23-24 (23) But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers. (24) God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance but the LORD looks at the heart.

Matthew 15:1-20 (8) This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. (9) But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.

Matthew 15:18-20 18 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.

In my opinion not only do the words spoken matter, but also the thoughts and intents of the heart and heart attitude matter as well, the inside stuff of the heart really matters. I think that the words are like sails on a sailboat and that the words are pushed along by winds, so to speak.

For example, the motivation, attitude, feeling, desire, heart, spirit behind the words influences what is ministered by the words. The words united with such things and or by a spirit combines and causes influence and ministers something to the hearers. It is what you say but it is also how you say it. When combined, the meaning can change.

A person can say a word for word sentence various ways. Even though the wording remains the same the variables could be:
1. Tone of voice.
2. Emotion behind the words (angry, condemning, joyful, compassionate, critical).
3. What words are emphasized.
4. The non-verbal body language.
5. The spirit ministering through the words.
6. Misrepresenting meaning, (not taking correct context into consideration).
7. Using words and/or emotion, peer pressure, etc. to manipulate.

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

John 7:24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement.

Matthew 7:15-21 (15) Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (16) You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they: (17) Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. (21) Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

John 6:28-29 (28) They said therefore to Him, What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? (29) Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.

John 5:38-44 (38) And you do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. (39) You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; (40) and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life. (41) I do not receive glory from men; (42) but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. (43) I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another shall come in his own name, you will receive him. (44) How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God:

Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, Being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.

What is the spirit of influence behind the word does matter. For example, Satan himself speaks scripture as described in Luke 4:9-11. (9) And he led Him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; (10) for it is written, He will give His angels charge concerning You to guard You (11) and, on their hands they will bear You up, lest You strike Your foot against a stone.

Another example of a spirit or demon's influence behind words could be Acts 16:16-19 (16) And it happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a certain slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune telling. (17) Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, "These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation."

Galatians 5:19-21 discusses the works of the flesh, and in my opinion the demonic gains access and works through the flesh. Galatians 5:22-26 discusses the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Anyway, I thought I'd share this with you all. I'm still thinking through all this.



"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."

This study was originally shared on June 28, 2006. It was written by Michelle Villaça. This is the copyright of Michelle Villaça and is reprinted on this site by permission.

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Page added July 3, 2006


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