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Online Articles

Is It Legalism?

"O how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day" Psalm 119:97. Similar things are found in Psalm 1:1-2 and 112:1 among many other places. 

Does that sound "legalistic" to you? If we take the worst examples of human laws to use as our conception of what law is, we are starting at the wrong point. God's law is His instruction, His guidance, His counsel, HIs will, even His law. God's people rejoice in God's law because it is a revelation of God's nature, character. In Leviticus God instructs Israel about the details of sacrifice, priestly ordination, clean and unclean foods, but somehow all of these details are important revelations of the Lawgiver, God Himself. "Be holy for I am holy" is found in Lev. 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7, 26.

In the commands God has given He tests our loyalty - Exodus 16:4; Deut. 13:1-5. In the commands God has given us, He is also shaping us into a people conformed into Christ's image: the Christ who said "Not My will, but Yours be done" (Matthew 26:39; John 8:29). If you say, I do not see how this shapes me into one of His people, do you not think the all-knowing God better understands what He is doing with us than we do?

I am concerned when those who are God's people disparage the word of God or any part of it. I have even heard the suggestion that the Pharisees' problem was paying too much attention to what God said. Think about that seriously. Jesus constantly asked the Pharisees, "Have you not read?" - Matt. 12:3, 5; 19:4; 21:16; 22:31. Jesus told them to learn the meaning of certain Scriptures - Matthew 9:13; 12:7. In Matthew 15:4-5 Jesus contrasted what "God said" with what "you say." The Pharisees problem was they were not carefully reflecting on Scripture and carefully applying to their life. Example A of this was their rejection of the One the Old Testament prophecied of who was standing right before their eyes - John 5:45-47; Acts 13:27.