Of Legalism And Christians

C H U R C H   R E F O R M   S E R I E S

By Biblicism Institute

In the past decades grace has been taught so much that many Christians have lost sight of God’s laws.

Unfortunately, the act of following God’s commands has been labeled by some as legalism, a pejorative term that is simply an excuse to avoid obeying God’s decrees.

Chrsit heals the blind

Christ did not break the law by healing on the Sabbath as those around Him believed.

SUPERSEDED COMMANDS

Without the divine laws there can be no Kingdom of God and no Christian cultural dominion.

Everywhere we hear the “saved by faith not by works” mantra, but rarely do we hear preached the last words of our Lord Jesus before He was taken up to heaven.

“…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…” Matthew 28:20

A command is a law and is by no stretch of the imagination a suggestion. Therefore, we must obey the whole law as remedied by the New Covenant, which renders many Old Testament ordinances – like the tithe – obsolete.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.…” Matthew 5: 38,39

Another example of a superseded command is how God now bestows salvation, which can no longer be received by sacrificing a lamb for Passover as was the case for the Old Covenant Hebrews. That’s been remedied by Christ’s New Covenant.

The process of salvation is now a free gift by grace, as it is the indwelling Christ in our spirit. We can’t work for that (i.e., we can’t sacrifice a lamb to get it), we receive it free by faith. Hence those who try to obtain it through obsolete laws are engaged in a futile exercise that will yield no positive result.

“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8

JESUS AND THE LAW

I have not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.” Matthew 5:17

Many love to pull that verse out of context to support various obsolete laws of the Old Testament, such as the tithe and the election of “Jews” as God’s chosen people.

But what did Jesus mean?

He meant exactly what He said. He came to fulfill all the biblical laws, because no one before Him managed to do so.

“For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Matthew 5:18

And accomplish them, He did.

“It is accomplished.” or “It is finished.” Matthew 19:30

And because He accomplished them, He was able to make some major changes. Consequently, He did away with the entire Levitical system.

“For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” Hebrews 7:12

Many laws – such as the tithe, the animal sacrifices, the Levitical priesthood, and the special status of the ancient Hebrews (today’s Jews are not Hebrews and no different than other non-believers) – have been done away with.

“By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete.” Hebrews 8:13

The New Covenant in Christ’s blood became the new law, while Christians became the new priesthood and the new chosen people – chosen to love and to do good.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood.” 1 Peter 2:9

Those who take Matthew 5:17 out of context are only beating a dead horse. The old body of the law has already been fulfilled… and then changed.

“I am not outside the law of God but am under the law of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 9: 21

ENDURING LAWS

Jesus is the Word or the Law.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

If Jesus lives in us, then the LAW lives in us.

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you…” John 15:7

Therefore the Law in us needs to be externalized, so the light of God can be seen by all.

“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

That’s the reason Jesus (the Law and the Salvation) gives Himself to us as a gift, for the express purpose of making us like Him, a doer of good works and a conqueror of sinful flesh. And the only way to do good works and overcome iniquity is to follow and fulfill all of God’s enduring commandments, just the way Jesus did.

“Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.”  1 John 2:4

The laws or commandments are for the believers to use properly, and for the unbelievers and lawbreakers to stand condemned.

“We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.” 1 Timothy 1: 8-11

That’s why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit whose job is to quicken our spirit, mind, and body into all righteousness. In other words, it is to help us follow God’s laws and do the things we need to do.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:26

When we Christians become doers of the laws wonderful things take place, and society is content; but when we don’t, we become quite ineffective and fruitless. Nothing feels right. Nothing is right. A malaise creeps in with the unsettling palpability that things are heading the wrong way.

All because the salt (i.e., Christians) has lost its flavor.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matthew 5:13

Even biblical Church/Assembly Gathering Laws have become a point of contention for many Christians, who prefer to cling to tradition instead of adhering to God-given commands. See Church Services Are NOT Biblical.

“Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” Matthew 15: 6

No wonder we are currently losing the battle for cultural dominion.  We can’t even get our own house in order.

“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the assembly? Are you not to judge those inside?” 1 Corinthians 5: 12

LOVE VS LAW

Many seem to think that Love is more important than the Law. Well, let’s see.

1. The Christian faith has Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross at its core. And the cross is God’s fulfillment of the law.

“It is fulfilled.” John 19:30

2. Obedience to God’s commandments is Love.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15

Thus love originates from fulfilling the law, since it is only made manifest when the LAW is observed and applied.

3. Everything revolves around the law, even mercy and faith.

“You have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness.” Matthew 23:23

Consequently, LOVE = LAW = LOVE. No distinction.

CONCLUSION

Most Christians have lost sight of the Kingdom doctrine, which purposes that we become conquerors by applying the divine commands.

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

All of God’s laws are for our empowerment and edification, in order that we may build His Kingdom of love, peace, and morality on earth as it is in heaven.

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32

The only way to build God’s Kingdom on earth is to obey and apply His laws.

“For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” Romans 2:13

The following command is the most beautifully circular of them all:

“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” 2 John 1:6

[Keep repeating the verse and you’ll get the circular part. 🙂 ]

Read also: Jesus was not a Jew

Read also: Predestination and Free Will

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3 thoughts on “Of Legalism And Christians

  1. A lot of Churches confuse people about Faith a free gift. They don”t tell you the rest…. Once you receive the gift you have to live the Christian life, which is a lot more challenging. Isn’t it a sort of self-deception? Just like many Churches don”t talk about Hell. Am I right?

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  2. It is sad that mainstream Christianity has messed up the true understanding of what it is to be a Christian.

    They, mostly the Charismatic circles, have turned it into a feel-good, goosebumps-seeking religion, when what God wants is sacrificial obedience and allegiance to His laws and commands, which many times produces the opposite effect of that feel-good thrill.

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