First, we discuss how to avoid liberalism. To the liberal mind, the most important principle of Christianity is love. Sadly, the liberal mistakenly believes the love of God is the kind of love which will simply overlook error in our teaching and practice. This definition of the love of God is unbiblical. Let us consider a sampling of the passages dealing with love. In John 14:15, Jesus gave the evidence which proves our love for Him when He said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Just a few verses later, He proved that possessing this type of love is requisite to having He and the Father abide in our lives. Consider His words carefully: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him…If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words…” (Jn. 14:21, 23-24). In 1 John 5: 3, John says “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” These few passages are sufficient to prove the liberal mindset unbiblical.
We must be careful, however, that we do not swing the pendulum to the other extreme of legalism. The old saying, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” sadly rings true in religion far too often as well. This very issue was the reason Jesus clashed with the Pharisees so frequently in the gospel accounts. Though the beginning of the Pharisees was well intended, the result of their ideology proved to be spiritually destructive. The word “Pharisee” literally means, “separate ones.” The distinguishing feature was supposed to be their deep devotion to keeping the law of God. However, they soon lapsed into a practice of creating their own laws which were nowhere to be found in the Law of God (Mk. 7:3-13).
This practice was known as putting a “fence around the Torah (Moses’ Law). But, why would the Torah need a fence around it? J. Israelstam explained that, "The Torah is conceived as a garden and its precepts as precious plants. Such a garden is fenced round for the purpose of obviating willful or even unintended damage. Likewise, the precepts of the Torah were to be 'fenced' round with additional inhibitions that should have the effect of preserving the original commandments from trespass." In essence, God drew a line (a law) at a certain place, but the rabbis, prior to and at the time of Christ, thought it prudent to prevent people from getting close to that line (a tradition or “fence”). In modern terms, this would be stated as “I’d rather err on the side of caution.” While this may sound “safe”, it makes men legislators for God rather than humble followers of God (cf. Jas. 4:12). This is every bit as unbiblical as the liberal position. To err in either direction is still to err, regardless of the good intentions of the one so erring.
The only solution to this problem is to be sure we truly, biblically love the Lord and His people with all our being (Mt. 22:34-40). This means we must constantly reexamine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). We must be sure our loyalty is to Christ and not self or our fellow man. If we legislate for Him, whether loosing or binding, we will suffer the consequences.