Legalists Condemn the Righteous

Last week we considered that legalists overlook the power of God and lack compassion. Let’s continue this train of thought from John 9:

Legalists Condemn the Righteous

Akin to the previous thought (that legalists lack compassion), they tend to go the extra mile and downright condemn others—even righteous brethren. We don’t see this from how they treated the formerly blind man; we see it in how they treated Jesus, THE Righteous One. Boldly, they said:

  • “This man is not from God” (John 9.15).
  • “We know this man is a sinner” (John 9.24).
  • “We do not know where He comes from” (John 9.29).

How could they make such a snap judgment on Jesus Christ? They stood in the presence of holiness, of the great teacher, of the healer of the blind (which had never been done before in all of their history), and they flatly condemned Him, placing Him in the same category as all the sinners they looked down upon. Incredible!

Jesus told His disciples, “If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of His household?” (Matt. 10.25). In other words, those who follow Jesus will receive the same rejection from those who rejected Christ.

Today, many legalists claim to follow Christ. Surely they don’t reject Him, do they? Yet they reject many of the followers of Jesus, and in condemning their brethren they reject the Lord. Jesus preached that when we reject our brethren we reject Him:

Then [the goats on the left] also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ (Matt. 25.44-45)

Here in John 9, we see how they treated the new follower of Christ: “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out (John 9.34).

Yes, modern legalists still condemn their righteous brethren in the name of religion. They stack rules upon rules, claiming to completely understand the righteousness of God. Some demand fasting, abstaining from certain types of foods, forbidding marriage, commanding Sabbath day observance. Some command abstaining from all alcoholic beverages, tobacco, dancing, and gambling. Don’t get me wrong—many abuse those things and sin in their excesses, but God has not forbidden them. We have no business condemning a brother for chewing tobacco or drinking wine.