The Legalists' Basic Error
By Fred O. Blakely
The legalists, those who condition salvation in Christ on perfect obedience in every particular to what they conceive to be His will, are by that attitude revealed as such. They, clearly, do not know "the grace of God in truth" (Col. 1:6). The doctrine of Scripture is we are saved by God's grace through our faith, "without the deeds of the law" (Rom. 3:28; cf. vv. 21-22; Eph. 2:8-9), that of Moses or the one they have devised.
The legalists' basic error, thus, is that of unbelief of the gospel. "Being ignorant of God's righteousness, which is conferred upon us through faith in His Son (Rom. 5:1-2; II Cor. 5:21), "and going about to establish their own righteousness," like the Jews to whom Paul referred, they "have not [by the obedience of faith, or of believing] submitted themselves to the righteousness of God" (Rom. 10:1-10; cf. ch. 9:30-33).
The first task in trying to minister to the legalists, therefore, is apparent. It is to endeavor to prevail upon them to receive the reconciliation to God wrought" for them by Christ. That being done, they, then standing in Divine grace (Rom. 5:2), will view the new covenant altogether differently from the system of rigid law which they now conceive it to be. Such belief of the record God gave of His Son is the only route by which men can make the transition from Mount Sinai to Mount Zion.