When starting our ministry, our first line of defense was against the legal Pharisees, who perverted the gospel of grace into a checklist of works, mostly related to Old Testament Law. These legalists are what I refer to as the “Pharisaical Lawless”, which in itself is defined as:
“Of or relating to the Pharisees or practicing or advocating strict observance of external forms and ceremonies of religion or conduct without regard to the spirit; self-righteous; hypocritical.”
These legalists overlook the “Royal Law” of Jesus Christ (love God, love your neighbor - Mark 12:28-34) And focus on commandment-keeping: These legalists were easy enough to spot, and the Bible itself easily enough burned a hole in their erroneous presentation of the gospel. However, there is another form of legalism that is more deceptive, lurking mostly behind the ministry facades of eternal security or “once saved always saved.” (Don’t get me wrong, I believe in eternal security. I believe we are saved and sealed with the Holy Spirit, and that nothing can “unseal” or “unsave” us once we are saved.)
The Prosecution and the Defense
While Pharisaical law-lessness might be compared to a prosecuting attorney in a court trial, (imagine an uptight, rabid attorney picking you apart while measuring you against the commandments of the law), the rebellious lawlessness would be more like the seedy defense attorney looking for loopholes in order to "get you off the hook" by excusing and/or encouraging spiritual immaturity, bad behavior, and outright rebellion.
They have a perpetual focus on salvation alone, driving home the fact that our works are not included in the salvation process, which is true:
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
However, that is where they stop and where they remain, not even bothering to move on to the next verse in Ephesians where it says in Verse 10:
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
They are stuck in spiritual infancy, and preach and teach that aside from salvation, there is no spiritual growth, repentance, or good works required.
Some even go on to say that repentance is a work, that ALL poor behavior (i.e. willful, perpetual sin and wickedness) is covered by the blood of Christ, therefore there is no reason to repent. Some teach that calling upon the name of the Lord is a “work of inequity” even though the Bible clearly states in Romans 10:13:
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (see also Joel 2:32)
They are teaching others into a spiritual coma, encouraging them to detach from the Lord -- never speaking to Him about their sin and letting the Holy Spirit mold them into a usable vessel, never crying out to Him to help change them. God forbid you give your testimony!
They never encourage others to examine themselves to see whether they be in the faith(2 Corinthians 13:5), but instead are preaching a lifeless gospel that produces no fruit, that shines no light, and does not advance the Kingdom of God through preaching of the Gospel.
We know that throughout the epistles, especially, we are encouraged to “conduct ourselves in a manner worth of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27) and we ought to be exhorting and admonishing one another unto good works. (Hebrews 10:24).
This comatose gospel is stagnant, and leads to, at minimal, teaching others to be “least in heaven” (Matthew 5:19), but, most importantly, runs the risk of convincing tares that they are wheat, goats that they are sheep, and the unsaved that they are indeed, saved. There is nothing loving about that, and there comes a stern warning from Jesus Christ Himself when he said “depart from me, I never knew you, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23).
Anna Cheslick is the wife of Scott Cheslick and the creator of Humble Woman Ministries. Scott and Anna created Pure Word Ministries in December of 2017 as a means of Evangelical outreach through Social Media.
Her passion is writing about God's Word in order to build-up, encourage and edify others and to glorify God.