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The Law versus Legalism

   What would this world be like under the individual governments if there were no instructions nor guidance by way of laws? There would be no consequences, because no one has set a standard of right or wrong.
   Without rules, written or otherwise, we would be not much better off than animals. But we are more than animals, and there are rules to be followed. The law is to be obeyed, but legalism is not. How is that to be understood? Let's consider The Law vs. Legalism.

Governed From The Top
   Isn't it obvious that Yahshua was governed? That He was and is still under Yahweh's governing rule. That is, under "The Law." It's not legalism. Yahshua never sinned.
I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me, John 5:30 (NASB used throughout).
   As Yahweh calls us by His Spirit, we are to start changing our lives by expressing the fruit of obedience by the same Spirit, even before it is implanted within to stay with the individual throughout their life (Acts 5:32; 15:20-21). It operates within us afterward, continuing to help us further in our walk (2 Pet. 1:4-8), to be like Him Who walked before us.
Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances, Ezekiel 36:26-27.
   How silly it is to think that a different Spirit is given today to just give us license to be law breakers of that old MOSAIC law! The reality is it was and is, Yahweh's Law, and it's the way we are to love Him.
For this is the love of Elohim, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous, 1 John 5:3.
   This is the truth, but people have been believing lies for centuries. Why?

Deception Is Prevalent
   What is happening today? Why aren't people waking up? Can we know the truth?
   If the idea of legalism, as defined by Scripture, can be understood, it will open up a window into what is happening in the majority of Christianity today who think "law keeping" is "legalism."
   Prophetically, 2nd Thessalonians 2:10–12 says,
And with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason, Yahweh will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
   This is specific to the end of the age. A time comparable to the time of Noah, when everyone was doing their own things, managing themselves by relativism, but then the flood came and took them all away, except for Noah and his family who Yahweh would essentially start over with.
   For those of the body of Messiah, we are to be like Noah, blameless in this wicked generation.
   We have our work cut out for us; we are to witness to others about the basics of what Yahweh expects from His people.

Four Points Of History
   There are definitely four things we can see from around the 4th century, which need to be covered and examined along with Scripture, the final authority which differentiates right from wrong.
      1. Early 3rd and 4th centuries set the tone for anti-Semitism and the removal of anything Jewish.
      2. Legalism has come to mean anyone trying to save themselves by works, rather than by grace.
      3. The accumulation of these two items (anti-Semitism and the Legalism "by works, not by grace" teaching) has driven people to explain away certain passages of Scripture, taking them out of context and distorting the intended meaning.
      4. The law was to be kept in the OT and in the NT, and will be kept in the Coming Kingdom.

First Point
   Early 3rd and 4th centuries set the tone for anti-Semitism and the removal of anything Jewish. Let's take a look at some history to confirm this and the other points. The following is from the History of the Christian Church, Schaff, P., & Schaff, D. S. (1997).
   “In the course of the third century the Roman practice gained ground everywhere in the East, and, to anticipate the result, was established by the council of Nicaea in 325 [C.E.] as the law of the whole church. This council considered it unbecoming, in Christians, to follow the usage of the unbelieving, hostile Jews, and ordained that Easter should always be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon succeeding the vernal equinox (March 21), and always after the Jewish Passover. If the full moon occurs on a Sunday, Easter-day is the Sunday after. By this arrangement Easter may take place as early as March 22, or as late as April 25.”
   In this historical record, we see the following problems:
         1. Anti-Semitism.
         2. Man-made calendar rules.
         3. False days of worship implemented, with disregard to “Yahweh’s Passover,” Lev 23:5.
         4. Shows the unscriptural power and influence of a religious organization.
   Even before this, there was trouble for the Jews and believers alike in the 1st and 2nd centuries by rulers like Nero, Vespasianus, and Hadrian.
   Nero accused Jews and other believers of setting fire to the city. Vespasianus was at war with the Jews who had been in revolt in the year 66 CE. And Hadrian refused the Jews access to the new city of Aelia Capitolina.
   Years after, there was noted to be at least 10 years of Jewish book burnings. Today, there is still anti-Semitism and trouble by others who claim to be followers of the Savior. When someone does start to understand the history of what has happened, and actually start living according to the Word, they get labeled as a Jew or as trying to save themselves through legalism. But the true meaning of legalism is rarely understood.

Second Point
   Legalism has come to mean anyone trying to save themselves by works, rather than by grace. Let's try to understand what Apostle Paul, himself, said,
But I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified, 1 Corinthians 9:27.
   There is a danger for us to be complacent. As we look around and find most people pursuing everything under the sun, we might ask, "Why shouldn't we also?"
   The one thing that is different about the body of Messiah is that it is set-apart. It is to be holy and it is Yahweh Who decides what is holy and what is not.
   Those in Messiah are called out and are chosen to do what Israel failed to do. They failed to be an example to the rest of the nations. And that is one of the problems today. Any traditional self-proclaimed Christian is going to say, "the law cannot be followed" and therefore Yahweh came up with a different plan of action so we can be saved by "faith alone," and they view any attempt to obey the law as legalistic. While there are things we can't do today without a standing temple and being under a different priesthood, it doesn't make us legalistic to obey fundamental commandments, such as, observing the Sabbaths, or eating clean foods, or being specific as to what we should partake of during Passover observance. See our booklet, Orthodox Believers, for clarity.
   It is the will of Yahweh that we're careful to observe these things properly in Messiah. What is not right, is doing what is right in our own sight. This takes us to seeing what legalism really is, as defined by what we find in Scripture.

Biblical Legalism
   A specific point of Pharisaical legalism has been noted about the following verse.
And immediately the man wasmade whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed, John 5:9-10.
   The Companion Bible, by E.W. Bullinger, says, “The Rabbis, made the carrying of anything from a public place into a private place, or visa versa, unlawful.”
   The law from the 1st century is in the Talmud, as law. Their law, not Yahweh's law. Yahshua the Messiah knew it and so should we.
Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Yahshua from Jerusalem and said, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of Yahweh for the sake of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:1–3).
   Today's so-called Legalism and how it is defined, is a false accusation against Yahweh's people? Yahshua Himself was lawful, as an example to us.    We are lawful, being justified in Messiah Yahshua, as Yahweh's Word points out:
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of Yahweh is eternal life through Yahshua Messiah our Master, Romans 6:23.
   We are forgiven through Yahshua's shed blood, a perfect sacrifice for us. It is not a sacrifice to take lightly, going our own merry way and living our life as we choose to.
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the Assembly of Yahweh which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them, Acts 20:28–30.
   Is it not perverse to suggest the law is done away with and we are now completely under Grace? Obvious to us is that we understand being under the law is being under the death penalty of the law. We are not trying to justify ourselves through the Levitical priesthood of sacrifices and ritual purification. For those who are just coming out of deception from false teachers, this is not as clear.
   Therefore, we have articles, we have studies, and we have messages given at Sabbath services, which point all this out by making it clear and by correcting the wrong teachings and traditions of men.

Out of Context
   Even though we see people taking Scripture out of context, we must not, and we must clarify ourselves so we are also not misunderstood.
   Paul clarified himself, knowing that he could be taken out of context. After speaking about grace, in Messiah, he says the following:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? (Romans 6:1).
   He answered his own question by saying
"May it never be." Why never? Because, for us, such a thought is absolutely perverted and against Yahweh's will. Paul knew this and said, "May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:2).
   What Paul just said makes a very good question: "How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" He's letting us know that we are not to go on sinning. It goes against Yahweh's Word and the faith of Yahshua. The very things noted of the Saints:
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of Elohim, and the faith of Yahshua, Revelation 14:12 .

Third Point
   The accumulation of these two items (anti-Semitism and the Legalism "by works, not by Grace" teaching) has driven people to explain away certain passages of Scripture, taking them out of context and distorting the intended meaning.
   Romans 14, Colossians 2, Galatians 4 and other specific areas have been proof texted to mean the law is no longer in affect for us, today, who are in Messiah.
   Most of the teachers of Scripture today ignore Scripture, and have chosen relativism, the belief that they can decide what is right based upon how they feel about something at that time.
   They look at moral principles, but neglect clear and simple instructions that are for us in Messiah today. Yahweh, the Almighty, said,
For this commandment (speaking of the commandments, verse 8) which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach, Deuteronomy 30:11.
   This is a contrary statement to those that say "we cannot keep the Mosaic law." Who is lying? Is Yahweh a liar? Absolutely not. The liars are those that Peter pointed out:
But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 2 Peter 3:13–14.
   Have we read this in context? Yes, and what follows is an eye opener.
And regard the patience of our Master as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction, 2 Peter 3:15–16.
The untaught and unstable distort the Scriptures. They are not spotless and blameless, they are sinners and they are teaching, using Paul's letters, that the law was done away with in Messiah. It is a lie! You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 2 Peter 3:17.
   Can one fall from grace? Yes. The way to do it is to start living an unlawful life, which is what the word literally means underneath the translation of unprincipled men. The wording means, "lawless men."
   What letters are prominently used to try and show the law was done away with? Romans, Colossians , Galatians, etc. In other words, Paul's writings. Just like Peter said, and most people are still oblivious to the fact. Wake up!

Fourth Point
   The law was kept during Old Testament times and during New Testament times, and will be kept in the Coming Kingdom.
   Let's try to go back to the earliest time concerning keeping the law, the earliest Commandments.
Yahweh speaking, says, “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws, Genesis 26:4-5.
   Genesis 18:19 goes back even further, with Yahweh speaking of Abraham,
For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of Yahweh by doing righteousness and justice, so that Yahweh may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him, Genesis 18:19.
   The Eliyah message, as we have taught in the past and one that Scripture teaches, is not just that our "El is Yah[weh]," which is what the name means, but the message is one of repentance and going back to the hearts of the fathers. The hearts of the fathers, like Abraham, was to obey Yahweh. Simple and clear, but false teachings in most of churchianity today has lost sight of this, and teach the laws of the Father are done away with. It's a lie, and we will now see who is the father of lies.
   Yahweh commanded Adam and Eve from the very beginning, saying, "Thou shalt not." But, we read in Genesis 3:1-4,
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which Yahweh Elohim had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has Elohim said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?' The woman said to the serpent, 'From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, Elohim has said, “You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.”’ The serpent said to the woman, 'You surely will not die!'"
   What about the law of Moses? Mosaic Law? Laws of Moses are the laws of Yahweh. They have always been His laws (instructions). What does Scripture say?
Keep the charge of Yahweh your Elohim, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn, so that Yahweh may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, “If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel," 1 Kings 2:3-4.

New Testament Laws?
   Were Yahweh's laws taught in the New Testament? Please keep in mind, that's what they had in the New Testament. The New Testament is a collection of letters written to brethren and is called the New Testament today. These letters were not ever teaching against the commandments of Yahweh. They uplifted them and the other instructions and insights from Genesis to Malachi.
All Scripture is inspired by Yahweh and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of Elohim may be adequate,equipped for every good work, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
   All is all, but some throw away the very thing we are to use for instructing and for being instructed.
   2 Timothy 3:16-17 points not only to the first five books of Moses, but also the other writings, such as the Psalms and Proverbs. We are also to pay attention to what the minor and major prophets spoke, as it is all inspired by Yahweh. It teaches of His ways. His way is the right way. Sit down and read Psalm 119, the longest chapter in Scripture, to see what King David, "a man after Yahweh's own heart," was inspired to say.
   As pointed out earlier, there are certain things that have changed due to a change in the priesthood (Heb 7:12), but the foundational laws and instructions do not change. They are the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The Coming Kingdom
   Are Yahweh's ways going to be kept in the coming Kingdom? What does the major prophet Isaiah point out? He says, on behalf of Yahweh,
And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the Elohim of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths. For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem," Isaiah 2:3.
   When you look at what this is saying, it's saying that His ways, paths, laws, and word, are pretty much all on equal ground. The interesting thing is, the people coming into the kingdom, as a physical people, are not saying let's go up and learn the law, they are saying let's learn of His ways and His paths.
   It sounds as if they are Christianized and not yet willing to say they want to learn the law. Interesting, isn't it?

The Truth
   If Yahshua the Messiah came to do away with the laws of Yahweh, then there is no longer any sin, because sin is the transgression of the law, 1 John 3:4. If there is no longer sin, then there is no need for Yahshua.
   The truth is, there is a forgiveness of sins that Yahshua’s sacrificial blood brings, but it does not do away with the overall law as is so often taught in the Christian faith today.
   Remember, Paul, evidently understanding he could be misunderstood, but wanting to make sure that didn't happen, he said,
“Do we then make void the law through faith? Elohim forbid: yea, we establish the law,” Romans 3:31.
   Paul isn't the only one making plain statements. James says,
"faith without works is dead" in James 2:26. Those works can easily be identified in 2 Timothy 3:15-17.
   Yahshua Himself quoted the Old Testament (better stated as a 1st agreement) and stated we are to live by every word that proceeds from Yahweh's mouth, Deut 8:3; Matt 4:4.
   The fundamental 10 Command-ents of Scripture are found in chapter 20 of Exodus and chapter 4 of Deuteronomy.
   If we want to condense those down, we can do so by considering the first five as pointing us to Yahweh and the last five toward our fellow man.
Yahshua, Who knew the law completely, presented these two great commands. The common element noted in both is love.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “YOU SHALL LOVE YAHWEH YOUR ELOHIM WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets," Matthew 22:36-40.
   The capitalized words are quotes from Scripture. The word “depend” is translated from a word that means "hang," like as in hanging a door by the “hinges” to the house. Understand, love is not separate from the house nor the door.

True Love
   Love is not just an emotional feeling. What standard is there in a feeling, if not connected with obedience? What does the Father think? What will He do? Scripture tells us: "...showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments,"Exodus 20:6.
   This is the law, and not legalism. This is true love, and not just a feeling or some other moral relativism.
   John also makes these things clear in the New Testament, by saying,
By this we know that we love the children of Yahweh, when we love Yahweh and observe His commandments. For this is the love of Yahweh, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of Elohim overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Yahshua is the Son of Yahweh? (1 John 5:2-5).
   Yes, love, and keep His commandments. Love is said to be supreme, and it's true, but it is not supreme if the instructions and will of Yahweh are ignored. That is the missing point in so many love, grace, and faith messages being promoted today. The Messiah kept the law, in love, grace, and faith! We are to do the same! We are to have true love.

Without Sin
   Some say that Yahshua broke the law to prove that He came to do away with the law. Is this true?
For you have been called for this purpose, since Messiah also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH, 1 Peter 2:21-22.
   Sin is transgression against the laws of Yahweh. Something that the Messiah was not guilty of, and the very example for us to live by. Notice the following:
Yahshua answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His Who sent Me. If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of Elohim or whether I speak from Myself," John7:16-17.
   We can know Yahshua, the Son, by being obedient to Yahweh, the Father. This is not rocket science folks! Yahshua said, plainly,
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love, John 15:10.
   He obeyed His Father’s law. We are to walk as He walked. Can this be any simpler? We are not to sin against Yahweh.
By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of Elohim has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him bought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked, 1 John 2:3-6.
   Do we want to be called a liar? Do we want to follow in the footsteps of the father of lies? We have Yahweh Who gave instructions to His people, the people sinned, and Yahshua came as a sacrifice to take away the death penalty that sin brings, not so we can continue in sin!
   "Yahweh forbid," as Paul stated. Yet, people resist, and say the Savior came to do away with His Father's laws.

Magnify the Law!
   It isn’t well known that Yahshua was actually “fulfilling” (building or filling up) Yahweh’s word, which it says in the KJV:
Yahweh is well pleased for His righteousness' sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honourable, Isaiah 42:21.
   Yahshua did just this by bringing the law up to a higher level, e.g., thinking of murder and adultery, and not just doing it. He lifted up the law, not legalism.
   He lifted up and gave the example of love in action, not love without action. And, not the love in the wrong kind of action, which the Pharisees did, by making up their own laws which covered Yahweh's laws.
   The NASB reads in Isaiah 42:21,
Yahweh was pleased for His righteousness’ sake to make the law great and glorious.
   If you have read Psalm 119 already, you would have seen that righteousness is equated with the law of Yahweh.
   Essentially, His righteousness is shown in the law which is His way and path for us. This is also clearly seen in the Son of Yahweh, who gave His life so that we may live righteous lives according to Yahweh through the gift of His sacrifice and the granting of the Holy Spirit. Not in a legalistic way, but a lawful way.

-Elder David Brett

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