Tag Archive | legalism

Proverbs 14:12 ” There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

Everyday you see people doing what they think is the “right” thing…yes, they’re good people with good intentions…but unfortunately, they don’t have God in their world.  Their life consists of works and legalism…with a mental score-sheet that they keep track of their points…thinking that they can somehow work their way to heaven.   For they truly believe that a loving God would never deny a good person access to heaven.  But Jesus replied to this in Matthew 7:21 when He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the Will of My Father who is in heaven.”  The world has its own standard of what being a good person and doing what seems to be right is…but it sadly falls eternally short of God’s standard.

Numbers 15:39 ” You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes.”

These blue cord tassels were to be a daily reminder of the Lord’s commandments and the fact that the Jews were a holy and separated people.  But if we go to Matthew 23:5,  Jesus is calling out the Jewish Leaders who had taken this Scripture to an excess by making their tassels extremely long in order to make a show of their “religiousness”.  It’s called Legalism…and the Church over history has been really good at it.  We’d rather focus on the strict and excessive conformity to the letter of the Law, than embrace grace and mercy.  Or we’d rather obsess over external appearances than do the hard work of changing our hearts, minds, and attitudes.  Legalism is taking God’s word to an extreme and then affixing human rules and regulations to it.  Legalism lets us focus on things we can control and be proud of…the  “Look at me, I’m so very religious!”  But like white-washed graves, we look so nice on the outside, but hold so much decay within.

II Chronicles 30: 18-20 ” Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manassh, Issachar, and Zebulum had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, ‘May the Lord, Who is good, pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God – the Lord, the God of his fathers – even if he is not clean according to the rules of the Sanctuary.’ And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.”

In these verses we see the spirit of the Law vs the letter of the Law.  In Matthew 23:23 Jesus chastised the Pharisees for their legalism and in doing so losing sight of the more important matters of the Law…things like justice, mercy, and faithfulness.  The Lord always searches the heart for honesty and sincerity and will reward accordingly.