Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Were Mary and Jesus legalists?

His mother (Mary, the mother of Jesus) said to the servants, “Whatever He (Jesus) says to you, do it.” (John 2:5)

If many of the contemporary Evangelical writers are correct, then Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a legalist; she said to the servants that they were to do whatsoever Jesus commanded. On this score, Jesus Himself should be counted as a legalist. He said:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

If you love Me, keep My commandments. (John 14:15)

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. (John 14:21)

The point is, Mary and Jesus were not legalists. It is not legalism to point to the commandments of Jesus (which are all the commandments recorded in the pages of the Scriptures, understood in the light of the Cross of Calvary) and require that they be observed. It is legalism to require all kinds of additional and expanded rules and regulations that effectively make the law of God of none effect. This is legalism:

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! (Matthew 15:5-7; c.f. Mark 7:13)

On the other hand, discounting any of the commandments and not requiring observance of anything vaguely looking like a law was also addressed by Jesus. Of such antinomians Jesus says:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven (which is clearly stated in the commandments of God). Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

I fear God. My fear is not in keeping His holy law, but in either adding to it and becoming a legalist, or taking away from it and becoming antinomian. Praise God for the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is the glorious New Covenant enabler:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36:26-28)

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