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Alêtheia Christian Fellowship ~ November 11, 2007 ~ S200

Legalism has crept into the church and if that is not bad enough, many Christians view it as a virtue, rather than the vice that it is.

 :      It is the evil of legalism that Jesus attacks here.
The law is technically the Torah, but came to be equated with the Talmud
Jesus frequently violated the Talmud, not the Torah

Written Mishnah completed 200 A.D., Written Gemara completed 500 A.D., forming the written Talmud, of up to 60 volumes.

is an acronym for the O.T.
Torah ~ Nevi’im ~ Ketuvim

History knows none to be better masters in the art of legalism than the Pharisees.

Although the expression, “the law” was used of the Torah, or of the Ten Commandments, or of the entire Old Testament, it came especially to be equated with the interpretations and traditions of the scribes.

       Mishnah, contains 63 tractates in 800 pages.

       The Rabbi’s believe that the Mishnah was given by   Moses but only a small part was recorded in the Torah.   The Mishnah is truly another testament of Moses and therefore just as binding as the Bible. (Mormon)

       Judaism’s interpretations of the Mishnah are called    Gemara and the combined work is called the Talmud.

       Tanak is an acronym for the O.T.

       Torah ~ Nevi’im ~ Ketuvim

Sabbath Day = no work is to be done.

       The Jewish legalists had a passion for definition.

             What is work? All kinds of things were classified as                     work; one was to carry a burden.

                    What is a burden?

They spent endless hours arguing whether a man could or could not go out on the Sabbath with artificial teeth or an artificial limb, if a man might lift his child on the Sabbath Day. These things to them were the essence of religion. Their religion was a legalism of petty rules and regulations.”

Jesus persistently and publicly chose to violate these traditions and to preach against them.

As a result, Jesus earned the reputation of one who disobeyed the Law.

It was necessary for our Lord to make His attitude toward the Old Testament very clear.

: Matthew 5:13-16 ~ 13“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Salt is not just a taste enhancer it is a preservative and a necessity of life in the 1st century as well as making a dried out completely tasteless piece of meat palatable.

       Perhaps salt that has already absorbed the blood, fat     and other liquids is what Jesus was talking about – you    don’t use salt preserving a fish and then scrape it off   and use it again!

       The question isn’t about losing salvation, but how will        the world hear the message if it is not lived out loud?

Light metaphors abound, but we need not look further than Jesus as the Light of the world and we are his body now.

Bottom line… From last week, even though we are going to be gentle we will be opposed!

       Some would say let’s go hide.

: Matthew 5:17-19 ~ 17“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19“Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Our Lord’s position on the Old Testament Scriptures is even more orthodox and uncompromising than that of the scribes.

Our Lord never intended to set aside the Old Testament Scriptures; He came to fulfill them. This fulfillment occurred in several ways.

1- He came to fulfill those OT prophecies and types.

2- He lived a life completely conformed to OT requirements.

3- He brought OT teachings and doctrines into clear focus.

John Chrysostom said: “His sayings were no repeal of the former, but a drawing out and filling up of them.”

Not even the most insignificant change in the sacred Scriptures was permissible, according to the Savior. The Hebrew ‘jot’ (yod, in Greek it is the iota) was the smallest Hebrew letter. The ‘tittle’ was the small projection on the stroke of a letter which distinguished it like our E and F.

Whatever He might be accused of, it could not be irreverence for the Old Testament Scriptures.

Could they make the same claims as He? “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments…

The reason it is least in the Kingdom is because he’s talking about the Jewish leadership

The scribes and Pharisees did not regard the Old Testament Law highly enough. They had set it aside, preferring their own rules, regulations and traditions.

It is almost impossible to convey the force of what our Lord has said here. How this charge must have stunned His audience. The Pharisees were viewed as the very pillars of Jewish society and religion. They were considered the most moral, upright, influential people of their day.

Legalism seeks to win God’s heaven by the keeping of some code of conduct. If the scribes and Pharisees failed, my friend, so must you and I.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus did not lower the requirements of Judaism; He showed them to be infinitely higher.

Here He gave six specific instances in which the scribal interpretations departed from the Old Testament Scriptures.

A common error is thinking that Jesus was giving a ‘new law,’ opposed to that of the ‘old law.’

You have heard’ introduces the erroneous or incomplete teaching of legalism, while ‘But I say’ is followed by the true teaching of the Old Testament, which is also that of our Lord.

: Matthew 5:20 ~ “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Now that ought to be plain enough!

: Matthew 5:21-24 ~ 21“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. 23“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

One cannot truly worship God while harboring anger.

: Matthew 5:25-26 ~ 25“Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26“Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.

Legalism looks to the law to settle disputes; our Lord says that love should arbitrate our differences.

: Matthew 5:27-30 ~ 27“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29“If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30“If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.

The difference between legalism and responsible Christian liberty is legalism draws a line and then tries to get as close to the line as possible. Christian liberty discerns what is offensive to God and stays as far away as possible.

Avoid the place of temptation.

: Matthew 5:31-32 ~ 31 “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’; 32but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

The divine purpose, as described in Genesis was that one man and one woman should be permanently united until separated by death.

Legalism looks only at the rules, Christian liberty at the reason behind the rules. While the Law permitted divorce, God hates it, and we should avoid it at all costs.

Dad, can I go to Justin’s house?


Form over function – as long as I say the right incantation, jump through the right hoops etc., I can do all manner of evil.


Compartmentalization is the splitting of life into the spiritual side and secular side.

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