SECOND RESPONSE TO LEGALISM
SECOND RESPONSE TO LEGALISM
We begin again with the common understanding of what legalism is, doing works of the Torah, or law, to gain salvation, as defined by the bone of contention around the First Church Council: Acts 15:1, 15 (NKJV) “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” . . . 15But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.””
Apparently, Yahweh is not finished with what we discussed in our First Response to Legalsim article. Holy Spirit has prompted me to go back and look further at Yahshua’s teaching in Matthew 22:34-40 (NKJV) “But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law [Torah]?” 37Yahshua said to him, “‘You shall love Yahweh your Mighty One with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the Law [Torah] and the Prophets.””
Of course, when the Rabbis, like Yahshua, say the Law and the Prophets, they mean the Writings are also included, in other words, the whole Old Testament, the whole Tanach. But the whole Old Testament hangs on just two commandments, loving Yahweh and loving your neighbor as yourself. That word all means all, whole, completely, every whit. Yahshua is saying that every jot and tittle of the Tanach hangs intact on the two primary principles of Yahweh’s Kingdom. He did not leave out the penalties, or negative aspects of the Torah, that would later be nailed to His execution stake.
Try to get the love triangle into your mind. At the top is Yahweh as seen in 1 John 4:8 (NKJV) “He who does not love does not know Yahweh, for Yahweh is love.” Yahweh, as love, defines the Kingdom of Yahweh. Below Him are the two basic principles, forming the two arms of the triangle, Love Yahweh, and Love your Neighbor. Below these two principles, Yahshua says all of the Tanach hangs on this lower bar of the love triangle. Basically, what Yahshua does in Matthew 22 is draw a word picture of the constitution of the Kingdom of Yahweh, showing which law rules, at least until heaven and earth pass away. Which brings us right back to Matthew 5:17-19 (NKJV) “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets [Tanach, Old Testament]. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law [Torah] till all is fulfilled. 19Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Our common Christian belief is that at the execution stake of Yahshua, all the penalties and curses of the Torah were fulfilled by Yahshua’s perfect sacrifice for our sins. This is Paul’s explanatory teaching in Galatians 3:1-29 (NKJV) “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Yahshua HaMashiach was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4Have you suffered so many things in vain–if indeed it was in vain? 5Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He [Yahshua] do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 6just as Abraham “believed Yahweh, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 7Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8And the Scripture [Tanach], foreseeing that Yahweh would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” 9So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. 10For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of Yahweh is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” 13Messiah has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Messiah Yahshua, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. 15Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. 16Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Messiah. 17And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by Yahweh in Messiah, that it should make the promise of no effect. 18For if the inheritance is of the law [Torah], it is no longer of promise; but Yahweh gave it to Abraham by promise. 19What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but Yahweh is one. 21Is the law [Torah] then against the promises of Yahweh? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Yahshua Messiah might be given to those who believe. 23But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law [Torah], kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Messiah, that we might be justified by faith. 25But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor [Torah]. 26For you are all sons of Yahweh through faith in Messiah Yahshua. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Messiah have put on Messiah. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Yahshua. 29And if you are Messiah’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
The Torah was given to show us what sin is, in Yahweh’s eyes. It was never intended to bring us into right standing with Him, or into righteousness, or justification before His Court. Salvation comes to us by grace through faith in Yahshua alone. Once you are saved, your good works may earn you some rewards when Yahshua returns, but a Christian’s good works will never earn righteousness points, or justification points, or salvation points with Yahweh. We obey Yahweh’s law now out of a heart of love and gratitude for all He has done for us, not to get on His good side, so we’re safe on Judgment Day. Doing righteous acts will never get you saved. Once you are saved by grace through faith in Yahshua, doing good works shows Yahweh you love Him and respect His Word as the authority in your life.
Remember Yahshua’s teaching to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23 (NKJV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law [Torah]: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Did you catch all that? Yahshua, the King of the universe, declares that justice, mercy, and faith, what we would call the elements of SALVATION, are the weightier matters of the TORAH!! This one teaching would take volumes to explain and we still would not plumb the depths of understanding to be found here. Everything we hold dear to our belief system, Yahshua considers still under the control, command, and authority of His Law, or Torah!! He wants us to not only take care of the minor aspects of the Law, like tithing itty bitty grams of mint and cummin that we might grow in our garden, but He also demands that we understand and deal honestly with salvation by grace through faith in Him.
Yahshua and Paul agree about the Law, it is good, holy, righteous, and it is ETERNAL!! The Law of Yahweh is the framework by which the Kingdom of Yahweh has always operated, and it is the framework by which it will operate for all eternity. There is love, joy, peace, grace, faith, mercy, justice, and salvation, all found within the framework of Yahweh’s Law, for all time and to all ages to come. Yahshua’s death on the execution stake FULFILLED the demands of Yahweh’s Law. Somebody had to pay for all the sin of all the fallen humans for all time. I’m glad Yahshua volunteered to do that for you and me. Aren’t you glad He did it? Praise His blessed Name for ever and ever!
Following Yahweh’s way after getting saved is called discipleship, which is lawful obedience, not legalism.
Well, let’s move on to the next response to legalism.
Gene Benjamin II
February 15, 2013 CE