Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Mis-Branded Legalists

God’s moral Laws, summed up in the Ten Commandments and given to Old Testament Israel, not only taught them God’s holy character and standards for living;  but they also teach us, His Church,  what God expects of us.  Though we are not saved by attempting to obey His Laws, we as Christians delight to please Him by obeying Him, just as a child  delights in pleasing his parents and having their smile of approval.

Not only are His Ten Commandments applicable to us, but II Timothy 3:16 teaches us that all Scripture from Genesis through Revelation is profitable for our learning and application to bring us to spiritual maturity and to prepare us to serve Him.

When we as Christians desire to do what is right in the sight of God, that is not legalism; but love and appreciation for all God means to us.

Consider two wrong uses of God’s Law.

1. Some simply ignore it, falsely thinking that it applies only to Israel and that we Christians who are saved by grace and not by our works, are free to live anyway we choose.  They are quick to brand as legalists, Christians who, in love for Christ, desire to live by God’s moral standards.

They are like the people in Jeremiah’s day who despised God’s Law.  Take time now to read Jeremiah 6:10-20   As you read this passage, note that Israel rejected God’s Law and had no delight in it.  Even the priests and prophets in their covetous desire to please the people, gave them false messages of peace with God, when there was no peace because they had not dealt with their sins. 

Note in verse 15 that the people were not ashamed to flaunt God’s laws.  They did not even blush.  That’s exactly the situation today when people who call themselves Christians flaunt God’s Laws, as unmarried couples do; living together in adulterous relationships and thinking nothing of it.  They don’t even blush. 

In verse 19 God promises to bring evil upon them because they have rejected His Word.  It wasn’t long before Judah found themselves enslaved in the Babylonian Captivity.

Verse 20 speaks about their so-called worship services that they attempted to offer to God, even while they ignored His Word and lived in sin.  Today we have a generation of Christians who love their feel-good worship services, but who in defiance to God, ignore and avoid any preacher who honestly shows them what the Bible has to say about their sins. Such worship is an abomination to God.

2. Another wrong use of the Law is to attempt to use it as the Pharisees did, by making it a ladder to Heaven.  Those who attempt to please God and achieve Heaven by trying to earn their salvation through law keeping are the true legalists.

God, who has saved sinners by His grace, never meant for sinful man to try to earn his way to Heaven by his feeble, flawed attempts to keep His Law.  That’s why in Jeremiah 31:31-33  God promised a New Covenant.  Whereas the Old Covenant dealt with externals, such as circumcision of the foreskins of  males,  the New Covenant deals with internals. 

 Circumcision of heart

 In the New Covenant God wrote His Law in the heart.  The fleshly circumcision was replaced by circumcision of hearts of  both males and females.  Read about that in Deuteronomy 30:6  and Colossians 2:9-11.

That circumcision of hearts takes place as Christians expose themselves to the faithful preaching of God’s Word.  As sin is dealt with,  the Holy Spirit convicts us and as we quit making excuses and confess sin as sin;  God forgives and cuts away sin and fleshly desires from our hearts.

What then is God’s purpose of His Law? 

Jesus warned in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:20 that our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees or we will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

The proud, self-righteous Pharisees, vainly attempted to keep God’s law to the letter, including a host of man-made minutia which they had added to make it even more difficult.   Their’s was not a heart obedience from hearts who loved God,  but their’s, according to Matthew 23:23,  was an external attempt to make themselves look good and overlook the things that really matter. 

The purpose of God’s Law, according to Galatians 3:24, is to help us come to the end of ourselves, and cast ourselves on God’s mercy and grace, realizing that Christ has fulfilled God’s righteous standards perfectly.  He died for us, paying the full penalty for our sins.  When we trust Him as our Saviour, we are complete in Him according to Colossians 2:9-10.

Let those of us who have trusted Christ for salvation, read God’s Word and place ourselves under the faithful preaching of it, rejoicing in God’s righteous standards. Let us discover the freedom of living the righteousness of the Law under the power of the Holy Spirit, as Romans 8:1-4 teaches us,  and let us not be ashamed to be mis-labeled “legalists” by those who ignore and have no desire to live godly lives.   


June 6, 2007 - Posted by | Legalism

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