Question: Do you ever worry that you’ve become a legalist, constantly holding others to the letter of the law as you see it?
Response: I understand what you mean about legalism. The letter kills, while the Spirit gives life. One can be as clear as crystal on doctrine and just as cold and hard in applying it to others. That fact, however, is no excuse for disregarding sound doctrine but a reminder that truth is to be spoken in love, while not compromising. Of course there are peripheral matters upon which there can be disagreement—but not when it affects the salvation of souls. Unfortunately, a false gospel is being preached today, and Paul said that those who do so are under God’s curse.
Now, you may wonder who has the right to say who (in understanding and interpretation) is right. We must each be convinced in our own hearts. We are to study to show ourselves approved unto God, not unto men. On the one hand, I must be sensitive to heed criticism of others, especially of those who know the Word and live it. On the other hand, however, I am personally accountable to God, and though many church leaders may stand against me, I must be and say and do what I truly believe is God’s will and according to His Word. The fear of man, or a desire to be well thought of by others or to gain some important or influential person’s approval, has led many astray. We need to remember that one day we will give an account to Him. Time is so very short and eternity so long!