Legalism

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Posted by Truth Ignited on Monday, December 31, 2018

 

            If there is one thing I have learned in some twenty years of ministry, whether in the revival I initiated on a United States Navy Ship in 1999 to current efforts in leading God’s people to embrace the message of the Torah, it is that the moment you try to promote any standard of biblical obedience you will inevitably encounter resistance. While I have been called my fair share of mocking names by those who are not interested in true holiness, from a crazy fanatic to a Judaizer, the one that always stands out the most is the term legalist.

            Another thing I have learned, however, is that when you stand firm on the Word of God and uphold His ways, He will make a way. In that Navy ship revival I caught a lot of resistance. At first I was resisted by the fellow in charge of the weekly Protestant services, saying I couldn’t “preach a sermon” because of some rule. I had just transferred to the ship and found that this sailor, who was put in charge of the weekly Christian fellowship, and one other crew member were simply reading Psalms to each other, not that there’s anything wrong with that. But in the end he came to me the day before I was to lead the service and said to give my message. I did.

            Within weeks word got around about what was happening and we didn’t have enough chairs for those in attendance. I decided to add a Bible study in the middle of the week. I got resistance from the ship’s Command Master Chief who would not allow me to use the conference room. So, I used a space I had full access to. But we kept asking for the conference room, and before too long we got it. We also were standing room only there. I added a weekly prayer meeting on Friday evenings, not even realizing at the time that it was the Sabbath evening, which was also well attended. Within just a couple months of a 6 month deployment—where I had joined the ship’s crew a month into the deployment—the revival was attracting one tenth of the ship’s crew, from the two young sailors that were reading Psalms to each other when I arrived. So when you stand up for God and His Word, He will make a way for you.

            What I have found in most cases, is that those making accusations like those mentioned above are not only predominantly liberal in their view of Christian faith, but they also don’t seem to know what terms like fanatic, Judaizer, or legalist even mean. As I go through this study with you, it is my goal to lead you into a deeper understanding of what legalism is and what it is not. If you are a person who accuses others of legalism when they promote obedience to something in The Bible that you don’t agree with, I hope that you will carefully weigh the words of this message. If you are a person who generally finds yourself on the receiving end of this mockery, I hope that this message will edify and encourage you to stand strong on your faith and convictions.

            In dealing with what many Christians wrongly call legalism, there are two primary definitions of what legalism really is that we must look at. Understanding what legalism actually is, from a Bible-based perspective, will help you understand what it is not. So, before getting into any of the other points to be made in this article, we will look first at the two primary definitions of legalism.

 

Earning Salvation Through Works

Legalism 1            Historically, the most common form of legalism is found in the form of trying to earn or maintain salvation through either obedience to commandments found in The Bible or, at times, obedience to man-made religious rules. I will be talking about these man-made rules in a moment, so for now let’s approach this form of legalism—the earning or maintaining of salvation through obedience—primarily from the perspective of commandments that are actually in The Bible.

            First, let me say that it is absolutely NOT legalistic to obey The Bible. I know that should not need to be said, but there are many, many sincere Christians today who actually seem to believe that it is legalism to teach obedience to The Bible. They honestly believe that it is some type of bondage to promote full obedience to rules given by God Himself.

I’m not miserably trying to keep The Law for what it can gain me, including for salvation. I submitted my life to Messiah FIRST. That is why it brings be great joy to keep Torah. If I were to discover something in Torah that I never saw before, it would excite me to find something else I get to do for The Master.

My attitude would not be, “Oh man, another crazy commandment, some other rule I have to follow because I decided to be a Christian.” No! As I have done in the past when discovering things commanded in The Bible, my response would be more like, “YES!!! Something else my God has given me! Another thing that can bring blessing into my life. Something else that gets me further from the curse and closer to My God. Praise His Name forever! I found one more thing I can do as a member of His Kingdom. This is the BEST DAY EVER!!!”

            There is a difference between obeying The Bible, especially the Torah, because you are saved, and obeying because you think it’s the path to salvation or the only way you can keep your salvation. The reality is that most Bible teachers today, especially those that hold a Torah-positive belief, teach that obedience is the result of salvation and a genuine love for God. It is rare that you actually find someone who is teaching a legalistic salvation through works.

            But that’s not how the liberals of theology see things. They are so sold on such lies as hyper-grace, relativism, and so-called “Christian liberty” that all they hear whenever the Laws of God are presented are people saying that you have to obey in order to be saved. We obey BECAUSE WE ARE SAVED. That’s what salvation is, as I will discuss later in this message, deliverance from disobeying The Bible.

            One thing you need to understand about the structure of Judeo-Christian faith is that there is no requirement to obey The Law until you have first accepted that God is God. Think about it, why would you even try to obey The Bible until you have first come to a belief that God is God. So, ultimately, there is no requirement to obey until you are saved. So, really, when you think about it even those who might appear to be trying to earn or keep their salvation through obedience to Torah are only doing so because they first believed that God is God and The Bible is His Word. That would mean that even they are not truly obeying legalistically.

            To build on that, you don’t even have a legal right to obey anything in The Bible until you are in covenant with God. Remember, The Torah is a covenant agreement. In ancient covenant systems there are terms to a covenant. Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8 tell us that the new covenant takes The Torah and puts it in the mind of the Believer and writes it on his or her heart. This must take place before you have a legal right to even obey The Torah.

            If a Chinese citizen breaks Chinese law, they cannot go to their trial in a Chinese court of law, present the United States Constitution, and use something it says to have their case dismissed. That would be ridiculous. Chinese law, not United States law, binds a Chinese citizen living in China. However, if that person decided to visit or immigrate to the United States, they are no longer obligated to obey Chinese law upon arrival in the United States. Now they are obligated to obey the laws of the United States. They cannot commit a crime in the United States, even if they maintain Chinese citizenship, and say: “I did not violate Chinese law.” It doesn’t matter. They are not in China.

            The same is true of the Kingdom of God. You cannot legally live by God’s Torah if your are not a citizen of His Kingdom any more than a Chinese citizen can live by U.S. laws and try to use them to fight conviction for a crime he or she committed in China. By not being a citizen of the Kingdom of God you are not even legally allowed to live by the Torah. When you stand before God at the Judgment Seat—and you WILL stand before God at the Judgment Seat—you will not be able to say “but I obeyed all your laws”. If you are not a recognized and legal citizen of His Kingdom, you’ll be like that Chinese citizen trying to use the United States Constitution in a Chinese court of law.

            But then, once you become a citizen, it is no longer a matter of permission but of obligation. You are now obligated to follow God’s Laws. It is no different than that foreign national coming to the United States and now being obligated to follow the laws of the nation they are either visiting or immigrating to.

            Now, there are times when a civilization makes its own secular laws that mirror things in The Torah. Obviously, it is illegal to murder someone. If you are not in covenant with God you are still bound through the civilization you belong to not to commit murder. But in regard to The Torah, you do not have a legal right to not murder on the basis of Torah alone until you are in covenant with God and a citizen of His Kingdom. In contrast, once you are a citizen of God’s Kingdom then societal laws against murder are irrelevant, you are obligated to not murder on the basis of Torah alone.

            So, it then becomes impossible for you to obey Torah as a means to earn or maintain salvation. Attempting to do so is an illegal action and disqualifies you from the covenant. This doesn’t mean you can never come into covenant. It just means that so long as you are working to earn or maintain salvation through Torah alone, you are not saved. You MUST first come through the blood of Yeshua, come into legal covenant with God. Then you have a legal right to the covenant instructions and everything you will ever need to do them. Consider this—if you are truly saved, then you:

  1. Have Christ in you (Gal. 2:20)
  2. Are the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16)
  3. Are the Temple of God’s Spirit of Holiness (1 Corinthians 6:19)
  4. Are a new Creature with new heart and new spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26)
  5. Have Torah written on your heart, and Torah in your mind (Jeremiah 31:30-36, Hebrews 8:8-12)
  6. Are grafted into the olive tree of Israel (Romans 11:17-24)

            If you really have all 6 of these things as a result of salvation, then not only will you be fully empowered to keep Torah, you will be so deeply in love with Torah that it will literally consume you. It is in your mind; it will be all you think about. It is written on your heart; it will be the thing you are most passionate about. And you will have the God who gave the Torah, Yeshua the Torah made flesh (John 1:1, 14), and the Holy Spirit all living in and through you. Not to mention that you are grafted into the very nation of Israel that Torah was imparted to from the beginning.

            So much of Christianity puts the entire focus on Yeshua and the work of the cross. As important as that event it, it is also only the doorway. Yeshua Himself said that He is the door; you enter through Him (John 10:9). Once you get through the door, you are given these 6 things. Having these 6 things, the focus is no longer on Yeshua, but Yeshua—as well as His Father and His Spirit of Holiness—push you into a life of Torah-obedience. Following the Torah is what’s on the other side of the door. If you are not wholly consumed by Torah, then you need to Yeshua first. But if you have really found salvation through Yeshua, you will, sooner or later, be wholly consumed by Torah.

            Another way to look at this is through that passage in Matthew 22 where Yeshua’s words have become the mantra of so many modern liberal Churches today: “Love God, Love People”. Those who are touting this today fail to use the phrase within the context of the words of Messiah, though. I have discussed this passage in great detail in my articles titled Do You REALLY Love God? and Love God|Love People, but I want to briefly approach it in a way that I didn’t fully express in those messages.

LoveGodLovePeople

            As I explained in my other articles, where Yeshua goes on to say, “…on these two commandments HANG all the Torah and the Prophets,” the word hang refers to nails or pegs that you would put into a wall to hang a piece of art from. This means that the term “Love God, Love People” refers to two rusty nails stuck into a wall. The Torah and the Prophets, then, is like a beautiful piece of art that you would hang from the nails. In other words, you are not supposed to be focused on the nails.

            Much of the Church today is standing at a wall looking at two rusty nails—“Love God, Love People”—and making everything about these things that are supposed to be the background support for what we should be focusing on. As long as the Torah and Prophets are not the center of our focus, your love for God and people will only ever be a worldly form of love, a humanistic form of love, a secular form of love. And that’s where the Church is at today!

            On the other hand, the legalistic approach to the Torah and the Prophets walks away from the nails in the wall and carries the artwork around. Trying to earn or maintain your salvation through obedience is a burden you carry with you.

            But if you ever get enough sense to walk through the door, if you ever realize that you need to hang the painting on the wall to fully appreciate its beauty, then you will find the Torah in its proper place and you will obey not as a means of trying to earn salvation but because you actually are saved. The truth of the matter is that saved people obey The Bible and unsaved people do not obey The Bible. Which one are you?

            If you mock people who promote obedience to The Bible, it’s very likely you are not saved. If you can read an instruction in The Bible, and especially in the Torah that came directly from God Himself on Mount Sinai, and you are not naturally inclined to obey it, it’s doubtful that you are saved. And it’s not legalistic for me to say that. In fact, as you will find in just a moment, it’s actually legalistic to claim salvation and not obey The Bible.

 

Man-Made Religious Rules

Legalism 2            The other major form of legalism is when religious rules are made, in addition to what’s in The Bible, and those rules are then placed at the same authoritative level as Torah, or, even worse, given more authority than Torah. This was the issue in Mark 7, among other passages, where a certain group of Pharisees were accusing the disciples of violating a tradition of the elders. The tradition in question was a ritual hand washing ceremony required before eating. They were eating bread.

            Now, somehow Christians think that this passage is about the food laws from Leviticus 11 and that the statements of Yeshua at the end of the discourse allows us to eat pork and other forbidden meats today. But the passage has absolutely nothing to do with the food laws, it has to do with a man-made religious rule and it’s elevation to the same authority as Torah commandments—like those Levitical food laws.

            In the course of the dialogue of Mark 7, Yeshua says that these particular Pharisees make void the Word of God as a result of their traditions. This is, perhaps, one of the biggest problems with this type of legalism; it voids the power of the Word of God in your life. In the previous form at least people are obeying The Bible. They might be doing it for the wrong reasons. But they are obeying The Bible. In this form, people are more interested in obeying things outside the biblical list of commandments, and sometimes even instead of the commandments of Torah.

            As I am writing this message it is currently the “Christmas” season that so many Christians are enamored by. I’ll not spend a lot of time discussing the many reasons that Christmas is something that should be shunned by Christians, as I covered many of those reasons in my article The Christmas Debate. But allow me to bring up a statement that the late Charles H. Spurgeon, one of the most highly respected preachers of modern Christian faith, says in his Treasure Of David series:

When it can be proved that the observance of Christmas, Whitsuntide, and other Popish festivals was ever instituted by a divine statute, we also will attend them, but not till then. It is as much our duty to reject the traditions of men, as to observe the ordinances of the Lord. We ask concerning every rite and rubric, “Is this a law of the God of Jacob?” and if it be not clearly so, it is of no authority with us, who walk in Christian liberty.

            Let me say something about this “Christian liberty” too. Many today have this idea that there is some kind of “liberty” in Christianity to freely ignore the laws of God. The idea is that we are blessed if we obey particular laws, but if we don’t want to obey a commandment we have a freedom to do so through “Christian liberty”. This is a LIE from Satan himself, and if you are caught up in that false doctrine you are living in defiance to the Torah of God and God will judge you for it.

            While this false view of “Christian liberty” that doesn’t exist in The Bible is concerning, what I really want to focus on from Spurgeon’s statement is the mindset that if we can’t validate something with The Bible, and especially if that something may have connections to religion outside of The Bible, it’s not something we should embrace. This is not legalism; this is choosing The Bible over the world—choosing the Kingdom of God over the culture around us.

            And I will remind you that the Roman Catholic religion, originally known as the “New Roman Religion” under the Emperor Constantine, is a pagan religion. Many today that had previously claimed that Christmas and Easter were pagan festivals because of their connections with the pagan cults of Rome or the Norse pagan religions have begun to question those claims. As a result, they have retracted their belief that these holidays are “pagan”. But Roman Catholicism is as unchristian as Mormonism or the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They all claim to be divisions of Christianity, but I promise you they are not. So even if Christmas and Easter are purely the invention of the Roman Catholic religion, with no other outside pagan influences, it still makes them pagan festivals. But let’s move on.

            Antinomianism is a theology term generally defined as a view that rejects the Law (Torah) as legalism under the banner of the “dispensation of grace”. It is considered by theologians and revivalist preachers to be the opposite of legalism. But what if I told you that antinomianism is legalism?

            There are claims today that we don’t have to obey the Torah or that at least certain regulations have been abrogated. This comes from a wide variety of doctrines, including a misunderstanding what Paul meant when he said “not under the law”, a misinterpretation of grace, and general Replacement Theology and Calvinist dogmas. The reality is that all of this is legalism. It is actually legalistic to claim that Christians do not have to obey things in The Bible, because doing so requires one to establish unauthorized man-made laws that void the Laws of God. This would mean that, generally speaking, practically everyone who accuses someone of legalism for obeying and teaching others to obey God’s Torah are the actual legalists, because their claim is almost always based on a man-made religious ruling that particular commandments have been done away with.

            Legalism is not insisting on obedience to the commandments of the Bible, as some would have us believe. It is based heavily around man-made rules. For example, there is no actual passage in the Apostolic Writings that negates the food laws found in The Torah. So, that would make the doctrinal views that these rules are abolished a man-made doctrine, tradition, or LAW. This would mean that it is not legalistic to tell people to follow the biblical food laws that call it an abomination to eat pork or shellfish or anything listed as unclean, but rather it is legalistic to tell people that they are free from the “Old Mosaic Law” and free to eat meats from unclean animals. To put it another way, the hyper-grace antinomians who go around saying they are not under the law are, in fact, the true legalists—they are literally the very thing they believe they are speaking against because their views are based in abolitions that do not exist in Scripture. How’s that for irony!

            When it comes to man-made religious rules, some are obvious and others are subtle. I want to talk for a moment about a type of man-made religious rules that are subtle, not easily seen, and always fit the model of legalism because, by default, they usurp what is commanded in Torah. This category of man-made rules is one that claims a commandment has been abrogated despite a lack of biblical support.

            For example, someone might say that the food laws don’t apply today, and then use a few passages from the Apostolic Writings, what most Christians (wrongly) refer to as the “New Testament”, out of context or twisted from their true meaning to support their position. Or someone might take a couple of verses from the Book of Hebrews, again out of context, and say that the Sabbath no longer applies because “Jesus is our Sabbath”.

            Those who do these things are quick to throw out the accusation of legalism toward anyone who dare suggest that we are actually still obligated to follow these parts of the Torah today. “That’s legalistic, we’re not under the law anymore. You can’t tell me what I can or can’t eat. I’m free in Christ Jesus through Christian liberty to eat whatever I want,” the might say. Or they might declare, “Jesus is my Sabbath, I rest in Him every day, not just one day,” you know, despite the fact that they still go to work every day. The reality is that they, in saying such things, have actually declared themselves legalists.

            You see, in creating such doctrines that wrongly abolish commandments from the Torah, they must do so as a man-made religious ruling. In doing that, since this particular religious rule is intended to make obsolete a Torah commandment, their rule automatically becomes superior to the commandments of God. That means that the people accusing you of legalism for insisting that we are to obey the Torah are themselves the legalists. What’s worse is that, in most cases, they won’t even entertain the idea that they are legalists because in their mind they are promoting freedom in Christ, albeit a false freedom that exists nowhere in The Bible.

 

When It’s Not Adding To Scripture

Legalism 3            There are certain commandments that are broad in their scope, and so anything that relates to them is covered by the original Torah commandment. Understanding this will prevent you from wrongly accusing people of legalism under the banner of man-made religious rules. A perfect example is the commandment in Genesis 1:26-28 and then reiterated in Genesis 2:15 that we are to be the stewards of God’s Creation, the caretakers of this earth. This is contrasted in Revelation 11:18 where it speaks of a future time where God will destroy those who destroy His earth.

            As such, anything related to a good ecological stewardship of God’s Creation falls under the banner of the mandate in Genesis. Thus, it is not legalistic to tell Christians we are mandated by Scripture to recycle. It is not legalist to say there is a biblical mandate to not litter or pollute the earth. It is not legalistic to say that we are mandated by The Torah to eat natural and organically grown foods that do not taint God’s Creation with pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified organisms.

            In numerous past messages I have spoken about the relationship between the biblical food laws and a Torah-based ecology ethic that a rejection of results in the destruction of ecosystems connected to eating those unclean animals. While these food laws are listed in Torah (Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14), and are therefore mandated in and of themselves, even if they were changed—which they are not—they would still be mandated over this larger commandment to care for the earth. This I can say in full confidence having shown that ecosystems have become unbalanced and in some cases destroyed simply because of humans eating animals God forbade us to eat.

            To take this one step further, when you do things that are destructive to the earth, you are violating this instruction given in the very beginning of The Bible. So, in contrast, if you endorse foods raised with pesticides, herbicides, or GMOs, you are then a transgressor of the Torah. If you use some type of aerosol spray product that has been linked to the destruction of the earth’s ozone layer, you are a transgressor of the Torah. And it’s not legalistic to say this because we have the overall general commandment to steward and care for God’s Creation.

            Think also, regarding the food laws, as I have noted in the past, that a study of the terms clean and unclean reveals that clean foods are those free from “admixture”, or from unnatural additives that are harmful to the body. The body is also a part of God’s Creation. So the consumption of things like artificial food additives that are toxic to the body is forbidden by Scripture under the parameters of both the clean/unclean food laws and the commandment to care for Creation. And it is not legalistic to say that because there is a direct Scriptural mandate to eat only that which is clean—free from harmful and toxic additives—and a Scriptural mandate to care for your body as a part of God’s Creation.

            Do you think for a moment that God is pleased with the destruction of the body? Yet so many Christians think nothing of drinking soda or eating the filth of some fast food hamburger restaurant. I promise you that your Messiah, Yeshua, would never step foot in such a place to dine. And your Bible says “Let this mind be in you, that was also in Messiah Yeshua” (Philippians 2:5) and “whoever claims to abide in Him must walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6). Consider what libertarian Christian author and farmer Joel Salatin says in his wonderful book The Marvelous Pigness Of Pigs:

Things that the religious right would abhor if they were promoted by churches are embraced warmly in the food system. While preachers rail against bringing junk into our homes via TV, the Internet, and pornographic literature, few bat an eye at a home stashed with high fructose corn syrup, potato chips, and Pop-Tarts. Indeed some even suggest that the cheaper we eat, the more money we’ll have to put in the offering plate. And to top it off, they denigrate anyone who would suggest part of caring for children is caring about what they eat.

Every Israelite festival centered on food. When it came time for Jesus to create a visceral reminder of His first and second comings, He chose bread and wine. In that day and culture, these were as common as French fries and Coke in modern America. Would He have chosen French fries and Coke if they had been available? I don’t think so.

            Let me also add that the cheaper you eat will NOT make more money available for some Church’s offering plate. First of all, a person who buys cheap food will likely be cheap in their giving. Second, as I have pointed out in the past, if a person eats healthy they will be stronger, healthier, and live longer. This means they will likely earn higher wages, work more years, and earn more money in their lifetime that those who eat the filth of “cheap food”. This person would apply the same mind to their giving toward ministry work that they apply to their food choices. Thus, they would have more to give and would be more willing to give generously. But this scenario requires faith from both the preacher and the parishioner, so many preachers are afraid to actually tell you this truth and will stick to what’s easier: live how you want, give what you can, and we’ll all be happy. You go skipping down that broad road to hell with that preacher if you want to! I’m going to live for God, even if it means standing in opposition to the most popular preachers in the land!

            Let me also add as a side note: Don’t give your money to a ministry that you do not fully endorse what they are doing. I know this sounds silly, but there are ministries I have supported in the past, including financially, but their message changed. Where they seemed at one time to be preaching truth, now they are not. So I stop financing them. I will pray for them. I will support them in other ways if I can. But I will not finance heresy. And neither should you. Just because you might have had a long history with a place and may have emotional ties to it does not mean you need to maintain a covenant with them through financial support if they stopped preaching the truth. You pray for them and try to help them get back on track if you can. But until they do, you financially support ministries that are staying true to the Word of God. Financial support of a ministry is a covenant bond, and you don’t want to be in covenant with a ministry that is blaspheming God and His Word.

 

The Gospel Of Relativism

Legalism 4            There is a growing trend toward a “gospel” of relativism today, that can only be described as part of the counterfeit “gospel” warned of in 2 Corinthians 11:4. It claims that sin is relative from person-to-person. In such a view one might say something like: “It’s not a sin to go see a movie, but it could be. Perhaps you would be troubled in your spirit by something in the movie, and so it would be a sin for you to go see that movie. But I am not troubled by it, so it is not a sin for me to watch it. Thus, what is a sin for you might not be a sin for me, and what is a sin for me might not be a sin for you.”

            Believe it or not, I have actually heard this line of thought presented by prominent ministries today, including those who had once held the highest standard of biblical morality in the modern-day Christian world and even promoted obedience to Torah in the past. But is that what The Bible says? Let’s take a look.

Everyone who keeps sinning is violating Torah — indeed, sin is violation of Torah.
~1 John 3:4 (CJB)

            This is the primary definition of sin in The Bible. There are two other definitions of sin—whoever knows to do good and does it not, it is sin (James 4:17) and whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23)—but both of these are subordinate to 1 John 3:4. The Torah is good, so not doing what it says under the parameters of James 4:17 is still a transgression of Torah under 1 John 3:4. The Torah is also instructions given by God Himself. So rejection of a Torah commandment is a lack of faith that God is God and the Torah is God’s instructions. If you truly believed that, you would never transgress it. So transgressing the Torah is an abandonment of faith in God.

For whoever keeps the whole Torah but stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
~James 2:10 (TLV)

            Christian religion has so confused what is and what is not sin that it is no wonder Christianity today has become a mess and the only thing modern preachers can come up with is some lie that sin is relative from person-to-person. The reality is that sin is the transgression of the Torah. Period. And there is a huge difference between a personal moral conviction and a sin.

            Think about this example: Many Christians would view a Jewish family drinking wine while celebrating the Feasts of Yahweh—celebrations commanded in the Torah to be observed—with disdain and may even deem them as “going to hell” for drinking alcohol. Meanwhile, these same Christians celebrate their unholy and unauthorized secular-pagan “holidays” of Christmas and Easter by eating pork ham, an animal that we are specifically commanded not to eat in the Torah. It’s this Christian legalism of their on man-made rulings that contradict Scripture that has created such a scenario.

            The Laws of God are not relative, they were written in stone and then, per the parameters of the new covenant, they are written on the heart of the truly saved. Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead in the presence of God because they approached Him with sin in their hearts. Today the Church is so compromised with things like relativism—along with humanism, secularism, and hyper-grace—that they would fit right in with most congregations and likely be elevated to a position of leadership. I have seen many so-called “leaders” and “pastors” in Churches that live far more rebelliously to the Torah of God than Ananias and Sapphira. Perhaps the only reason they have not dropped dead themselves is because the Churches they are leading are counterfeits of the real thing to begin with.

 

Who Are The Real Fanatics?

Screaming priest in black clothes, with a book in his hand            Perhaps one of the greatest books on revival in the modern era of Christian faith is Leonard Ravenhill’s Why Revival Tarries. In this book the forward was written by another standard-bearer of holiness, Aiden Wilson Tozer. In describing the character of Ravenhill, the forwarder writes:

A thousand or ten thousand ordinary priests or pastors or teachers could labor quietly on almost unnoticed while the spiritual life of Israel or the church was normal. But let the people go astray from the paths of truth and immediately the specialist appears almost out of nowhere. His instinct for trouble brought him to the help of the Lord and of Israel.

Such a man was likely to be drastic, radical, possibly at times violent, and the curious crowd that gathered to watch him work soon branded him as extreme, fanatical, negative. And in a sense they were right. He was single-minded, severe, fearless, and these were the qualities the circumstances demanded. He shocked some, frightened others and alienated not a few, but he knew who had called him and what he was sent to do. His ministry was geared to the emergency, and that fact marked him out as different, a man apart.

            Perhaps there has been no man in modern Christianity more deserving of such words as Ravenhill, but I want you to draw your focus on those last three words in the first sentence of the second paragraph from what I cited: extreme, fanatical, negative. These are companion words given to practically all standard-bearers who are branded as legalists by the liberal, lascivious, and lukewarm masses of the backslidden who call themselves “Christians” today.

            But what is a fanatic? What is an extremist? Let’s take a closer look at them. I looked up a standard definition for the words fanatic and extremist, and this is what I found:

Fanatic – a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal, especially for an extreme religious or political cause.

Extremist – a person who holds extreme or fanatical political or religious views, especially one who resorts to or advocates extreme action.

            Now, this is not a political message or teaching, so we can just focus in on these things as they relate to a Judeo-Christian religious point of view. Both of these words basically mean the same thing and refer to someone who has doctrinal beliefs that would be considered extreme.

            Now, let’s think about this for a moment. What sounds more extreme, more fanatical, more crazy or weird to you?

  1. To accept the standards of The Bible as true, follow them as such, and seek to lead others who claim a belief in The Bible to do the same.

            OR

  1. To believe this modern doctrine that says there is no real need to follow The Bible today, you can accept what you want from it, reject what you want from it, morality and sin is relative from person-to-person, and we should just follow the example of what we see everyone else doing, including everyone else in “the church”, do whatever is right in our own eyes, live our “best” life now, and all because grace allows us to be “free from the bondage of the law” and we have “Christian liberty” so we don’t really need to obey The Bible, if we don’t want to.

            The masses might not like what I have to say, but it would seem to me that the true fanatics and extremists are those who take that extreme doctrinal view that actually believes that The Laws of God are not all that relevant to how we practice our faith. The real fanatics are the people who would call you a fanatic for actually striving to do all that is written in the Torah and the Prophets.

            I’m really not sure why this is such a difficult thing for people to understand, but it is not some radical fanaticism to do everything that The Bible instructs us to do and reject every ungodly thing that “Christian” religion embraces. That, in God’s eyes, is really the only thing that is normal. Ultimately, the masses that claim to belong to Messiah Yeshua but do not follow The Bible to the extent of those they call fanatics and extremists are the crazy ones. These people, it would seem, actually believe that they are saved while living completely in defiance to the very Book that leads to salvation. They are practicing a fantasy religion and calling it Christianity. And that’s insanely fanatical!

 

Submit Yourself To God!

Legalism 6            Have you ever seen a child that, after being given an instruction by his or her parent, replies with, “STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO DO”? This is the attitude many Christians seem to have today.

            The moment you try to present some biblical standard that they don’t like they lash back by saying that God is not controlling and that they are “free in Christ from the bondage of the law”. The problem, of course, is that The Bible gives no such imaginary freedom to do whatever we want without regard to the commandments of God.

            Some people complain about “being controlled” by someone who is simply putting a demand on them to obey what The Bible has already commanded them to do or not do. The problem is not a control issue by the person presenting the Biblical standard, but a submission issue by the recipient. And no, I am not specifically talking about things like “wives, submit to your husbands” or even a general submission one person to another. I am talking about submitting to The Word of God and the God of The Word.

            If you were submitted to obeying The Bible, then you would not feel like the person telling you what the Bible commands is controlling you. The reality is that a person who is submitted to The Bible and to Yahweh will be so in love with the Word of God that they will be excited whenever someone presents a standard commanded by Scripture, especially those directly out of The Torah, that they were not aware of. So, if you feel like somebody promoting biblical morality is trying to control you, or that they are some type of a fanatic, the problem is not with them; the problem is always with YOU.

FamilyStructureMessianic            In a biblical family unit there is a husband/father, wife/mother, and children. The biblical model states that Messiah Yeshua holds the highest authority, the husband/father figure submits to Yeshua but is also the priest of the home, the wife/mother submits to the authority of her husband as he submits to Messiah, and the children are raised in the ways of God. If this were happening, there would NEVER be a conflict or question of someone “being in control” or acting as either some type of dictator or a rebel to the things of God.

            The man will feel like his godly authority is undermined if his wife is not equally committed to the ways of God. He will see her as rebellious, not as much to him but as to God and His Word. Likewise, the woman who is not living for God will feel like her husband is trying to control her life because she is rebellious against the ways of God and her husband is merely fulfilling his role as the priest of the home.

            On the other hand, when a man is not himself committed to the ways of God and the woman is, he puts her in a position she was not created for. The wife/mother is not created to be the priest of the home, especially if she has a husband. A single mother may find herself needing to lead her children in the ways of God in a role that she was not truly created for, but even in that it is not the proper biblical order of the family unit. In cases like this the woman is forced to operate outside of the design of creation. This often leads to a woman developing bitter opinions of her spouse and embracing a modern feminist mindset.

            A lot of people, because of popular humanist Christian teachings today, have also embraced a mindset of living their life the way they want to live. They resist any standard of biblical holiness that conflicts with what they want to do with such statements as, “This is not a life,” or, “You only live once, we should enjoy our life.”

           God never called you to be happy, He called you to be holy. But here’s the thing, true happiness is only found in holiness. People who live in the world are not happy. They are never satisfied with what the world has to offer them and always seek more. To the contrary, a born-again Believer cannot be happy apart from holiness. If you are truly saved you won’t want what the world offers, you will only want what God’s Kingdom offers.

            In other words, if you feel like Christianity or The Bible is controlling you or preventing you from living “your life”, consider it a positive indication that you are not saved. This is not a legalistic statement because I am not talking about an earned salvation. I am talking about the fact that true salvation will cause you to love God and The Bible so much that it’s all you want. If that is not your experience, then you just need to get saved before you do anything else.

            I hear people say “Let me live my life, I want to be free.” But they are not free. True freedom can ONLY be found through Yeshua and obedience to His Father’s Torah. You are in bondage, not freedom, if you are living “your life”.

            When someone tells you to adhere to God’s food laws and you say, “I am free to eat what I want,” you are not free at all. You are in bondage to the lies of God’s enemy, the only character in The Bible that ever dared ask, “Hath God said?” You are not trapped in a prison because someone gives you a standard of God’s Word and tells you to live by it, you are in the prison of your own sin when you reject the commandment of God and do whatever you think is right in your own eyes. I remind you that your Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25).

            If you want to be free, you need to submit YOUR LIFE to Yeshua and surrender as a prisoner to His Kingdom. Everything in God’s Kingdom is mutually exclusive and diametrically opposed to the kingdoms of this world. Freedom in God’s Kingdom comes only through slavery to Yeshua as your Messiah. All of the Apostles referred to themselves as “a slave to Messiah”, an ideology that Christianity would do good to relearn today. The only way you can ever truly be free is by living in total obedience to The Bible.

            So when you feel like you are being “controlled” by religion, when you feel like the preacher is trying to take away your fun and your life, it is evidence that you are not really saved. You are not bound because of someone telling you to live for God. You are bound because you do not submit to the Word of God that person is telling you to live by. Your pursuit for freedom is the one thing that is preventing you from ever being free!

 

It’s All About Obedience

Legalism 7            So many Christians are looking only at what they can receive from God—salvation, blessing, healing, prosperity—without any regard for what God requires of them—Torah obedience.

            It isn’t as important how or why we obey God’s Torah so much as THAT we obey. The hows and whys of it all can lead to endless debates and even heated arguments. “How do you celebrate the Feasts? I do it this way.” “Why do you follow the biblical food laws? I do it because of this.”

            We do have to be cautious though. I recently heard a preacher speaking who began following the biblical food laws years ago, seemingly for the right reasons. Up until a few years ago he was heavily promoting a Torah-observant message, pushing heavily observance of the biblical Feasts of Yahweh and other areas that a majority of Christians remain ignorant of. But a few years ago something changed and his message became radically different.

            In that recent message he was pushing a view of relativism, much like what I covered earlier, where what might be sin to one person might not be a sin to another person. In this message he declared that he doesn’t eat pork, which he has said many times in the past, but this time was different. He said that it had nothing to do with the biblical laws against it, but simply that he felt it was a good idea personally not to eat it. Then he said that his desires don’t have to be other’s desires.

            Folks, it’s good that this man is obeying Torah himself, but this type of message is very dangerous because what he essentially said is, “I obey The Bible because I want to, but you don’t have to obey The Bible if you don’t want to and that’s OK too. Grace has you covered either way.” Regardless of whether or not that’s how he meant to come across, that’s what many people heard, especially those who are hypnotized by the lies of modern hyper-grace humanist teaching from so-called “Christian pastors” on the television.

            God asks—even demands—that we simply obey. In some cases there are specifics given in The Bible, and those should never be open for discussion. He says to eat lamb or goat for the Passover meal. There is no debate about it. You are not to substitute chicken or fish as the meat selection for your Passover meal. But you can eat whatever you want, within the parameters of the food laws from Torah, for any of the other commanded Feasts, the Sabbath, the minor festivals of Purim, Hanukkah, and Tu B’Shvat, and any other day of the year.

            He listed certain animals that we are not to eat. That is not up for debate. You don’t have a right, if you are truly in covenant with Yahweh and a citizen of His Kingdom, to twist the words of Paul or some other first century Apostle and eat pork or shellfish.

            He tells us to keep the Sabbath and defines it as the seventh day of the biblical week, making the Sabbath sunset Friday to sunset Saturday on modern calendars. You do not get to reassign it to another day. He only requires that you do no ordinary work on that weekly Sabbath Day. Whatever else you do or don’t do to honor and celebrate the Sabbath, how you do it and why you do it, is subservient to simply THAT you “remember the Sabbath Day, and keep it holy” by doing no ordinary work on that one day each week, between sunset Friday and sunset Saturday. It’s set as an absolute in the Word of God. There’s no room for debate.

            I recently heard some folks talking about keeping the Sabbath. It seemed they were in favor of keeping the Sabbath. The wife said that she was at that moment in the middle of reading Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s famous book The Sabbath. Then they seemed to push the idea that Sunday is the Sabbath. I was literally in shock! I mean, Christian ignorance of the Sabbath runs deep, but to actually be reading Heschel’s book and still think that Sunday is the Sabbath is absolutely amazing. You would think once someone gets to a work like that they have figured out that the seventh day means the seventh day, not the first day.

            There are absolutes in the Word of God. They are called Torah. There’s no debate about it, nothing to discuss, nothing to question. If God says don’t do it, He means don’t do it. If He says, “Don’t eat that,” He means don’t eat that. If He says to do something, He expects you to do it. Folks, it really is that simple.

            It’s religion that complicates things by trying to tell you that you don’t have to obey this commandment or that commandment because Paul made some vague statement about something that really didn’t have anything to do with what the preacher is talking about but because they are reading it from an English Bible and trying to apply it from an American cultural understanding then it must abrogate this commandment or that commandment because we have always done it that way…

            Do you see how confusing that is? You can simplify your life and your walk of faith by just doing what The Bible says. Ignore religion. Ignore your Pastor. Ignore all the other “Christians”. If they are not simply doing what The Bible demands, then they are to be ignored. Prayed for? Yes. Helped? Yes. But don’t you pay any attention to them if they are leading you to ignore The Bible’s standards. YOU IGNORE THEM AND THEIR LIES!

            The time has come, and now is, for God’s people to rise up against the lies of the modern Christian religion. It’s time for those of us who are truly sold on obedience to The Bible and the ways of Yahweh to infiltrate the Body of Messiah. Let us become like a computer virus, hacking into the “Christian Church” and leading God’s people out of a new Egyptian bondage—the Egyptian bondage of false religion.

~Blessings and Shalom~

To learn more, CLICK HERE and check out all of the Truth Ignited articles.

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