Are you legalistic?

Mar 18, 2011 | Uncategorized

Mark 12:33, “And I know that it is important to love him with all my heart, and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.

When Jesus walked on the earth, He often taught people to follow the laws and commandments set forth by Moses. That would not be unusual because during those days, much of the Jewish world revolved around keeping the laws of Moses plus the traditions that were now associated with the commandments.

Jesus said that He came to this world not abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). He even goes further in verse 19 and says that, “So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

If Jesus says these words in the Bible, then it means that the laws of Moses are important. Right? But I’ve met people who says that the 10 commandments are “obsolete” just because that they were written in the Old Testament. What more for those other laws that were enumerated in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. Of course there are items in those laws that are specific to the Jewish religion. But there are “general” laws in there that are universal.

These people I am referring to are telling me this as if we should disregard the 10 commandments altogether, although I could also sense that they just want to know how I would answer and refute me for whatever I would say.

Then, there are the “laws” that we “conjure” in our everyday lives that somehow evolves into commandments. Things like what to wear in church, what NOT to wear in church for example. Some are just plain trivial and some as if your whole salvation depends on it. We become like the Pharisees in Jesus’ time who make up all sorts of laws to make it harder for other people to follow and serve God.

Yes, I agree that we have to have some rules to put things in order but not to the point that people are exasperated and lose focus in loving God. Jesus was never legalistic even though he advocated following the law. What Jesus was setting the stage for was grace. The law shows us how sinful we are. Grace shows how God loves us. The laws were important to God, but not as important as forgiving those people who break the laws and reconciling them to Him.

This is what the verse I wrote at the start of this post is all about. There are more important things other than the law but it does not mean that we will neglect them also.

Lastly, Jesus told this to the teacher of religious laws who asked him the question that prompted the answer above, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” May we all love God will all our heart, understanding and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Help us REFRESH others with the life-giving Word of God today!

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