But as I was exploring this new-found capability, I stumbled upon various programs that were posted on YouTube. I was particularly interested in videos that might further develop my understanding of the Word, of God, of His Glorious Son Jesus, and of my responsibilities in light of what He has done for me. I found one program that was posted on YouTube about a man in Russia that was portraying himself as Jesus. He had all the bells and whistles and all the appearance, and he was leading his followers in a better way of living than the usual worldly ways of indulgence in pleasure and selfishness. But it is so easy to be tricked into various legalistic schemes such as this cult. I knew this was not truth, although it had so much correspondence with the truth and it had such a beautiful appearance of truth so that it would be hard even for an astute person to distinguish between real Biblical truth and the false truth that was being portrayed. But there are so many touchstones or litmus tests that you can apply to pretenders to determine whether they are walking in truth. One of these is complete openness. In this cult, there were several points at which the leaders of the cult required the cameraman to stop filming. Whenever people are afraid of having the truth told about them, this is what they do. Real truth does not mind telling the whole story. The other obvious revealing factor was the level of control. In the legalistic environment, control is always necessary and is always centrally located on one figure or a small group who decide what everyone else should do. In this Russian cult, control was ever present in various forms. This is not the way of Christ. He always gives us freedom to obey or not to obey. He does not force himself on us. Force is the way of Satan.
But I will give the cult this much. They followed enough of Biblical truth and a Biblical lifestyle that the people were relatively healthy and happy. Even if people are not saved by Jesus and do not claim the Bible as their source of truth, perhaps making their own way or their own texts of truth, so long as they mimic the truths of the Bible close enough, they can be guaranteed at least a happy and healthy life. God’s rules are stamped on the universe such that you can simply follow the same principles of the Bible and be ensured of a successful, healthy life. This is not enough to ensure entrance into heaven, though, since God will still consider all works done in the flesh without His spirit as tainted by sin. But His laws in the Bible, while intended to lead to deeper truths, including the ultimate truth of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, can still give people a good, healthy life if followed carefully. God gave us these rules for our own good. God wants people to have a relationship with Him, but He also wants people to be happy and to live lives that are sound. The way of the legalist is to assert control and to take away freedom. Many times, the way of the legalist takes away happiness in the process of its harsh rule. For example, legalists have long eschewed dancing as a terrible sin. But there are dances that God does not mind. There are many forms of social dancing that are not sexually suggestive and simply give a fun outlet for adults and young adults to socialize. Obviously there are some forms of “dirty dancing” that God would not approve of.
But as with many of our freedoms, God wants us to exercise our freedom and enjoy life, just keeping these activities within moral boundaries. The legalist, who is always focused on the surface, cannot make the fine distinctions of moral discernment, and may not have God’s wisdom operating within him with the Holy Spirit. So the legalist makes sweeping judgments on behaviors that are not wrong in themselves, but rather are only wrong in certain circumstances or wrong when conducted certain ways. Sex is another of God’s gifts to us that He wants us to enjoy, so long as we enjoy it in the sanctity of marriage and within healthy and respectable boundaries, treating each of the partners in this loving act with tenderness and honor. But the legalist will always look on things such as sex and will again make sweeping judgments to keep people under control and keep them feeling guilty. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have my freedom and my peace of mind while enjoying ALL the various fun gifts which God has given us in life. I’d rather do things God’s way.