There seem to be two different camps in Christendom today: fundamentalism and not fundamentalism. Ever since the creation of fundamentalism, there has always been pushback. Whether it be music choice, dress, or how you speak, we always seem to be on two extremes.
The fundamental camp is often accused of “legalism,” which basically means that they apply laws and rules to people, openly or subconsciously, that regulates a believer’s daily living. They tend to have a high view of the ten commandments and try their best to live by them today. They don’t believe you should be loose in the “house of God,” which they use as a denotation to their brick and mortar buildings they are meeting in. They would never allow a curse word to slip from their lips, and they will definitely not let it slip from their childrens’. Finally, you will never see this crowd worshiping outside of the organ-hymnal setting.
The other camp, which seems to take many different forms, is the group of believers that is “hip,” “cool,” “modern,” and “free.” They are often accused of “paganism” or “lawlessness,” which means that they are unrestricted and going against some of the basic commands of the Bible. They tend to think we just need to love God, not fear Him or obey His law. They will often be found wearing cut-up jeans, edgy t-shirts, and hipster glasses. They are fine with using the occasional curse word to relate to the sinner and them that they are not “religious.” Finally, their music seems to always have the perfect base drops that cause the congregation to lose it (emotionally and sometimes physically).
Misaimings of Both
“But if I delay, I write that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the house of God” 1 Timothy 3:15a
“For I delight in the law of God according to the inner man, but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and making me a captive to the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” Romans 7:22-24
The problem is, God does actually care about how we conduct ourselves, but we can’t meet His standards. The “anti-fundamentalists” are incredibly loose and unrestricted, conforming to the ways of the world (Rm. 12:2). The “fundamentalists” are strict and pharisaic, seeking to obey the law in vain. Even if our conduct is near perfect and we don’t curse once, Christ is not satisfied (Matt. 5:48).
God does care about our worship, dress, hair, etc. (Jn. 4:24; 1 Pet. 3:3; 1 Cor. 11:6, 14). Yet, He doesn’t want us to try and follow the law (Acts 15). God has issued in a new dispensation with the resurrection of His Christ, and it is not one of legalism or paganism but of the Kingdom.
“Therefore receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us have grace, through which we may serve God well-pleasingly with piety and fear” Hebrews 12:28
“Who delivered us out of the authority of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” Colossians 1:13
“To Him who loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom” Revelation 1:5b-6a
“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17
When we received the Lord, we were begotten into the kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3). Just as a plant is in the plant kingdom by birth and an animal in the animal kingdom, so a Son of God is only one by being born into the kingdom of God. The kingdom was sown into our hearts when Christ, the King, first came in (Matt. 13:19). This delivered us from the kingdom and authority of Satan, whom we used to live by (Eph. 2:2). Now we can choose to live by and according to another life and another authority.
The kingdom of the heavens, spoken of in the Gospel of Matthew, is what we as believers have been called into (Matt. 3:1-2; 4:17, 23; 10:7; 24:14). This kingdom is not only something that is a reward in the future, but is a present reality today for those who live according to the King.We have received the divine life, and we must live according to it:
“For the law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:2
This life comes with regulation and restrictions. If we live and walk according to it, we will find that we are not so free. We will have the attitude of Paul:
“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable; all things are lawful, but not all things build up.” 1 Corinthians 10:23
The legalists set strict rules and standards to regulate in an outward manner. This is presumptuous, for what is good and lawful is not always absolute. Certainly in regards to sin we must forsake it at all costs, but what about what I eat (see Romans 14)? We have been set free from the law and ordinances (Eph. 2:15).
The pagans are loose and unrestricted, presuming that all things short of sin are allowed, especially for love and the gospel’s sake. This is folly. Consider Acts 16:6:
“Having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.”
Also 2 Corinthians 1:12:
“For our boasting is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in singleness and sincerity of God, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and more abundantly toward you.”
The Realm of Life
God does not dwell in the realm of right and wrong. He dwells in the realm of life. If we want to have a proper living, we mustn’t neglect this life. To replace it with the law or our own fleshly wisdom is a tragedy and would surely result in missing out on the manifestation of the kingdom in the future (Matt. 7:21, 23).
The key is found in Romans 8:6:
“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.”
We must set our mind on the spirit and obey the sense of life and peace within. If this sense leads us to preach the gospel to the man sitting next to us, we must. If it leads us to go to our room, lock the door, and pray to our Father, we must. If it leads us to cut our hair and wear proper clothing, we must.
To presume we know what the Spirit within wants us to do before gaining this sense limits and grieves Him. This is not a matter of outward regulation, but of a fellowship with God (2 Cor. 13:14). Lord teach us how to be under this fellowship, that you might have a way to regulate us, discipline us, instruct us, and lead us along the way of righteousness. Your kingdom come and Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on the earth!