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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « Christians “On Fire” | Pragmatism: A Little Leaven »

    On Legalism and Pharisees

    I enjoy staying on top of the news, but I perhaps enjoy reading the comments and commenting after these articles more. I love the dialogue and exchange of ideas and opinions that frequently occurs between a variety of “regular” people from around the world.


    But I have noticed on Christian sites, when brothers and sisters in Christ strongly disagree with one another’s opinions, they have a tendency to blast them with an accusation/insult of being a legalist or Pharisee. Aside from the fact this is hardly showing Christian love to each other, the terms are abused to insinuate the “wrong” party is hated by Jesus. I want to address both terms and how they relate to the Bible.


    Legalism is basically a strict adherence to a set of laws; As far as Christians go, our “set of laws”/rules for life are encompassed within the Bible.  I would argue that it should actually be our goal to be Bible legalists in the fullest sense, for in so doing we will become more Christ-like.


    I do not mean the Old Testament laws (which Jesus has fulfilled (Matthew 5:17), and which Christians are free from (Romans 7:6; Galatians 3:13), but the laws of “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’And…‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:36-40), and the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and do not cause a brother to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:13) and many others.


    If we truly follow ALL these laws, we will have both holiness (“be holy, for I am holy”, 1 Peter 1:16; Leviticus 11:44, 45; Lev. 19:2; Lev. 20:7) and true love.


    As for the Pharisees I notice some fallacies in many arguments. People seem to think that Jesus ran the Pharisees out of the temple which is incorrect.


    He ran the money-changers out because they were defiling the temple and preventing non-Jews from entering to pray (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11: 15-17; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:13-16). While Jesus was famous for eating with tax collectors and sinners, He actually ate with several different Pharisees in their homes during His ministry too (Luke 7:36; 11:37; 14:1).


    People seem to think Jesus spoke so strongly against the Pharisees because they were legalistic. Also not true. Jesus never accused them of legalism, He called them hypocrites (Luke 12:1; 13:14) because they practiced the outward parts of the O.T. law while neglecting the inward parts (Luke 11:42) and also adding on laws in some cases that God never implemented (Luke 11:46).


    The Pharisees were in fact not being legalists; but they would have benefited if they had.

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