There are two kinds of legalism among Christians. One is the kind that adds extra-biblical restrictions on Christian behavior like dancing or drinking alcohol. Then there’s the kind that follows this phrase, “Show me in the Bible where …”
When some people say this, what they really mean is, “Find a verse or passage that addresses my specific circumstance and I’ll consider it unless, of course, there is something unique to my situation that it doesn’t address and it fails to conform to my interpretation.”
For some reason, I’ve had the privilege of addressing two such instances recently. But just over the last few days, I was hit with it again …
“Show me in the Bible where it says you must confess your sin to the person you wronged in order to be right with God. My confession and repentance before God is enough.”
What’s great about these challenges is that I’ve found I actually delight in finding the truth. I usually have a general sense of what’s right when I’m asked but often can’t match it with a specific verse. I’m sure some people more biblically literate than I would have been able to quote Scripture right away with this latest “show me” challenge. But others aren’t so obvious. Some require hard work searching the Scriptures and seeking the counsel of others. And whenever you work hard and search the Scriptures on a topic to help a brother or sister out, you begin to see all over again that 2 Timothy 3:15-17 really is true.
Though there’s often no one verse or passage that addresses all of the specifics required by legalists, weighing Scripture against Scripture always provides an answer.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering if there’s a verse or passage that answers the latest challenge, consider this passage,
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. — Matthew 5:22-24
I guess the question here is, what if the person you’ve wronged isn’t a “brother”?