Holiness vs. Legalism
Definition of Legalism -When people want to do things for or concerning God that He DID NOT TELL YOU TO DO.
Every time anyone says, “You need to obey God to be saved,” someone will cry “legalism."
Commandments that are directly related to the Jewish religion are the only things in the bible that are no longer in effect as commandments for New Testament Christians.
Examples of these would be the Sabbath, Passover, and other days, circumcision, dietary laws and things related to the priesthood. But anything that relates to righteousness is still very much in effect. There are still lots of commandments for New Testament Christians. God wants you to do what He told you to do--nothing more and nothing less.
We don't sacrifice animals or keep certain days to be righteous. Righteousness begins when you have your sins forgiven, but if you don’t begin to obey God, you will not be counted righteous. Today everyone wants to claim some ceremonial righteousness that gets bestowed upon every Christian making you automatically righteous no matter what you do. But the bible says:
1John 3: 7-8 “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he (God) is righteous. He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”
Could anything be more plain than this. John said it's what you do that really counts. If you continue to do the “works” of the devil, you will be with him one day and not with God.
Don't be deceived by "bible skinners"
The scripture above said, “Let no man deceive you,” and that is exactly what the preachers are doing when they tell you that obeying the commandments of God is "legalism." The true and living God is Holy and says to us, “Be ye holy.” If the bible could talk, it would surely scream when all the “bible skinners” begin to twist and torture the scriptures concerning holiness. They use the words holiness and righteousness in their sermons but it is so vague and fuzzy that you don’t know what they are talking about. They never mention any specific behavior that would be unholy. The bible says there is a difference between holy and profane. Ezekiel 44:23 And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
You have to love God to keep the commandments.
Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” The problem is people don’t have enough “love of God” or “fear of God” in them to keep the commandments. It is understood you need God’s help to keep the commandments, but God is not lazy. He does His part of salvation and grace--it is the people who are falling short and not doing their part.
People say you don't need to obey God to be saved because they despise holiness. When you despise holiness, you are actually despising God according to 1 Thessalonians 4: 7-8. “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit.”
John also said, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." In other words if you think you NEVER do anything wrong, you are self deceived. 1John 1:8. But John makes it clear, "My little children, these things write unto you,that ye sin not. Don't use anything from the bible to establish some kind of "doctrine of sin" where everyone is a rotten sinner that can't do any better. That basically denies the power of God. 2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.