Monday, October 19, 2009
Jesus Condemns Legalism. He does not condemn Obedience to God's Law
Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honour your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— then he need not honour his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
‘ These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honour Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Matthew 15:1-9)
Here is Jesus' teaching on the nature of legalism. Legalism is the teaching of humanistic traditions as if they were the commandments of God, but in the process of doing so, making the true commandments of God of no effect. It is not legalism to obey God's Law. It is not legalism to call others to obedience to the commandments of God. It is legalism to neglect the Law of God for the sake of humanistic rules and regulations.