How a Christian should behave is something that people today are willing to debate. In the past, this simply never happened since Calvary, 2,000 years ago. Instead, it was simply assumed that a person was to live a holy and a pure life, and none of this was discussed.
If you took a trip back in time and reviewed all the major denominations requirements, you would probably be surprised to discover that in place were strict consequences for church members whose lives brought reproach and shame to Christ’s name. It was even quite common that based upon the offense they committed, a member would for a period of time be barred from membership. From actually attending church services, this was different. Basically, what it meant was that the privileges of their church membership they were not allowed to enjoy for a period of time.
An overall rebellion in the United States began back in the 1960s. What was going on in the church itself was starting to be affected by the hippie generation existing at that time. A teaching took root at that time which to specific standards of behavior, Christians were held accountable. This included things like abstaining from cigarettes and alcohol and modesty. This began to be referred to as “legalism” by a lot of people.
With the word “legalism”. the real definition has to do with, as a condition of “being saved”, requiring good works to be done. There are truly many religions teaching this today. As an example, that certain things have to be done is a teaching of Islam.
The same thing is taught by Mormonism. At any time one of my friends went to a website of the Mormon Church to chat about their questions with someone, they would ask the person they were speaking to just what they felt about salvation. The answer they would receive would be that the Mormon church believes for a person to be saved, both faith and works are needed. Basically, this is legalism.
That God commands us to be holy because He is holy, we are told by Peter in the Bible. Does that tell us that Peter was attempting to impose upon other people his beliefs and that he was a legalist?
When you stop to consider that Peter personally knew Jesus, this really doesn’t make much sense. The truth is that more of what God expected of people may have actually been known by Paul, than those individuals not thinking that any need to be holy is in fact necessary.
That we need to be holy is not something that God suggests, but rather something that He demands. It is clearly stated in the Bible that holy living does not have anything to do with eternal salvation. But that we should not live holy lives, this doesn’t mean. The truth is that not living a holy life shows that God is not really loved by you because when you are disobeying His commandments, you are showing that you don’t love Him!