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Showing posts from December, 2012

Legalism

The greatest insult in the Church today is to call somebody a Pharisee. Pharisees are a group of Jews that still exist but at the time of Jesus death they were considered the religious elite. Jesus, however, did not have kind words for them. He regularly pointed out there hypocrisy and exclaimed that they would strain out a gnat only to swallow a camel (Matt. 23:24). Although the label of a pharisee is often misapplied and typically used by a pharisee of a different type, it is important to analyze the nature of legalism so that we can avoid it.

When we were in Israel our Jewish guide explained to us a concept that is key to understanding the heart of legalism. He said that the Jews had 613 (Mitzvot) laws that act as a fence around the commands of God. In other words, if people keep the 613 laws then they will have no chance of actually disobeying God, since the fence protects them from it. How then did something that sounds so noble turn out to be their curse?

Obeying a law does not …