Legalism

The view that salvation can be achieved or merited through compliance with a legal code. NT writers, particularly Paul, staunchly oppose such a view. Especially in his Epistles to the Romans and to the Galatians, Paul seeks to prove that no one can be justified in the sight of God by the works of the law. He sees legalism as the great shortcoming of Judaism, as he knew it in his time. “Israel who pursued the righteousness which is based on law did not succeed in fulfilling that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it through faith, but as if it were based on works” ( Rom. 9:31 , 32 , RSV ). To Paul, legalism was impossible as a means to salvation. In contrast with faith, which requires a positive relationship toward God, legalism represents a negative attitude. It is at this point, ul...

From the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Published with permission from the Review and Herald Publishing Association.

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