Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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June 15, 2013
Last Updated :
June 20, 2013
The Laws Of Moses Were Only Given To The Children Of Israel, Sabbath Observance Was A Sign Between God And The Israelites, Apostles Refused To Place Legalistic Burden On The Gentiles, Legalistic Christians Claim They Please God By Obeying Laws Which Were Never Imposed On Gentile Believers Such As The Sabbath, The Legalistic Burden Of The Scribes And Pharisees, Jesus Is Our Rest And The Lord Of The Sabbath, Legalists Want To Keep Carrying Their Legalistic Yoke And Take Pride In It, Obnoxious And Pushy Sabbath-Keeping Legalists, My Position Regarding Doctrinal Debates, Lord Lord Group And Trying To Establish Our Own Righteousness, Christ Is The End Of The Law For Righteousness For Believers, Paul's Battle Against Jewish Legalism, Paul's Counsel to Galatians Colossians And Romans, Aggressive Legalists And Judaizers, Abide In Your Calling, Does Our Old Testament Legalism Possibly Even Irk The Lord?, God's Laws Are Written On Hearts Of Both Jews And Gentiles, Voice Of Conscience, God Is The Spirit Of Love, If We Are Led By The Spirit We Aren't Under The Law, We Are Under Grace And God's Honor System, Law Is Meant For Lawless And Disobedient, God's Laws Stamped On Our Hearts Convict Us All Of Wrongdoing, Contrast Between The Tables Of Stone And Tables Of Our Hearts
As we have already clearly established, God's Word confirms that the Laws of Moses were only given to the children of Israel, and not to the Gentile nations. Furthermore, the Book of Exodus indicates that the only Gentiles who became subject to the Mosaic Law, were those who decided to dwell with, and to intermarry with, the Israelites. These strangers were in fact required to be circumcised, according to the covenant that God first made with the Patriarch Abraham.
You may recall that the Book of Exodus also informs us that observing the Sabbath is a special sign between God and the Israelites. Exodus clearly states "it is a sign between me and you" and "It is a sign between me and the children of Israel". Based on these and similar verses which we find in the Old Testament, as well as the fact that neither Jesus or the Apostles preached directly to the Gentiles, it is easy to understand why we find no evidence in the Gospels where Sabbath observance is mentioned in relation to the Gentiles.
It would seem then that it is for these reasons that in Acts chapter fifteen, the Apostles did not establish a requirement for Gentile converts to observe the Sabbath. Please carefully think about this point. As the leaders of the First Century Church, with the historic meeting that was held in Jerusalem, the Apostles had ample opportunity to impose the Mosaic Law on the early Gentile Believers, including mandating that they observe the Sabbath. The meeting in Jerusalem would have been a very opportune time to do it, because that news would have quickly traveled back to the Gentile brethren, and it would have affected our Christian faith ever since then.
However, as I mentioned earlier, beginning with Peter himself, the Apostles refused to place that burden upon them, in spite of rather strong pressure from their legalistic brethren. As Peter asked, if even the Jews were unable to bear that burden, why should they place Gentile Christians under the very same heavy yoke? So my point is this. While some of my Christian brethren have convinced themselves that they are pleasing God by obeying -- or at least endeavoring to obey -- the statutes of the Mosaic Law, beginning with the Sabbath, the truth of the matter is that they don't have a leg to stand on, because God never required these things of us Gentiles in the first place, and neither did the First Century Church.
Do you understand my point? How can these Christian legalists say "Oh, we are pleasing God by keeping the Sabbath", when He never even told us that we had to keep it? If a commandment to observe the Sabbath was never even given to the Gentiles, then in effect, there is nothing to obey. If there's no commandment to obey, then saying "We are pleasing the Lord by observing the Sabbath" is ludicrous. How can God derive pleasure out of something which He never enforced upon us in the first place?
I apologize for being repetitious with this particular point, but I can tell you right now that there are going to be some hardheaded Christian legalists who read this series who are going to resist this Scriptural truth. You need to understand that this is a very big thing with some of them. In fact, on the occasions when I have addressed the Sabbath, and legalism in general, with some of them, their immediate reaction seems to always be to play their obedience card. "I am pleasing God by my obedience. What is wrong with obedience?" You see; they just don't get it. God never even told them that they had to do those things as a Gentile believer. To reiterate, that is where their error lies.
Sadly, as I mentioned in part two, because of their deception, I anticipate that there will undoubtedly be some Christians -- the real diehard legalists -- who are probably going to argue that I am wrong. The more vicious ones will accuse me of being a false prophet, a misguided teacher -- or whatever comes into their minds -- and endeavor to justify their wayward actions. However, it is my hope that a few of them will understand what I am explaining here, and will be liberated from their current legalistic bondage. Let me mention again that Jesus said that He came to set us free. In direct contrast to the Scribes and the Pharisees, Jesus did not come to place a new and heavier legalistic yoke upon any of our shoulders. Consider what He tells us in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke:
"For they [the Scribes and the Pharisees] bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers."
Matthew 23:4, KJV
"And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers."
Luke 11:46, KJV
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30, KJV
Do you see that? Jesus is our only true rest, as well as our only true Sabbath, because He is the Lord of the Sabbath. He took the weight of sin and death, as well as the weight and the demands of the Mosaic Law, and placed them upon His very own shoulders, thus becoming the Lord of the Sabbath, as He clearly informs us in the following verses:
"For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day."
Matthew 12:8, KJV
"Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath."
Mark 2:28, KJV
"And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath."
Luke 6:5, KJV
Sadly, these Christian Judaizers and legalists don't really seem to want Jesus to be their rest and their Sabbath. They want to keep carrying that heavy legalistic yoke. They don't want to put it down. In fact, some of them take pride in how much they strive to obey the Mosaic Law and keep the Sabbath, and are very self-righteous about it. I have met quite a few of them, such as certain Seventh Day Adventists. They can be very obnoxious, and sometimes endeavor to engage me in debate via private messages, or on my Facebook timeline. I often end up blocking them if they become overly argumentative. Due to their pushiness, it has reached a point now where I am even hesitant to accept them as Facebook friends if they belong to the SDA Church, or to other legalistic groups which promote Old Testament legalism, because sooner or later, I know that I will receive a private message in which they will want to debate with me, and I just don't have time for it.
As my regular readers will know, it has long been my personal policy to not engage in doctrinal debates in any fashion. I find them to be both destructive and divisive, not to mention very time-consuming and spiritually draining. Please refer to the article "Should Christians Engage in Doctrinal Debates?" if you are interested in reading a more amplified explanation regarding my position.
As I mentioned earlier, these legalists claim to want to show the Lord how much they can please Him by obeying Him in something which He never even told them that they had to do. As we learned in part two, part of the problem seems to be that they have misunderstood what is meant by Jesus' words "my commandments". They have fallen for the double deception of believing that it refers to the Mosaic Law, and that the Laws of Moses apply to them, when they really don't. While these Christians say that they believe that they are only saved through their faith in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, at the same time, I can't help but wonder if they are trying to establish their own righteousness through their supposed "good works", very much like the Scribes and the Pharisees of old. I am also reminded of the proud "Lord, Lord" group who boast of their own doings. Consider the following verses:
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
Matthew 7:21-23, KJV
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
Romans 10:1-4, KJV
Please carefully notice what the Apostle Paul clearly states in the final verse above. As I explained in part two, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." Once we come to Jesus, and accept His Sacrifice as Atonement for our sins, that is it. We are washed in the Blood of the Lamb, we are cleansed of our sins, and we are in fact made righteous in our Heavenly Father's sight. Jesus did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. As such, there is no need for us to try to establish our own righteousness in any way, because we could never even do it in the first place.
Clearly, we cannot possibly establish our own righteousness by observing the mandates of the Laws of Moses, such as by keeping the Sabbath and observing other Jewish feasts, or by eating kosher foods, or by using certain Hebrew names for God the Father and Jesus, or by any other means. As I mention in the article entitled "Are Christians Obligated to Keep the Sabbath?", the Apostle Paul didn't hesitate to take the issue of Old Testament Jewish legalism by the horns. Paul was quite determined to prevent the new Gentile converts from becoming ensnared by all of the legalistic nonsense which kept the Jerusalem Church in bondage. We saw a clear example of Paul's endeavors in part one with our discussion regarding the Galatian brethren.
You may recall that after explaining to the brethren in the city of Colosse how Jesus Christ had set them free from the curse of the Law, by nailing the ordinances of that Law to His own Cross, the Apostle Paul then advises them to not let anyone judge them because of what they eat and drink, or do not eat and drink, or because they don't observe Jewish holy days and feast days, such as the Sabbath. Consider what Paul wrote to them, and take heed if you are feeling the pressure of the Christian Judaizers and legalists in your life:
"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross . . . Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:"
Colossians 2:14, 16, KJV
Just as he had rebuked and questioned the Galatians regarding why they had backslidden from the spiritual freedom they had recently gained through their faith in Jesus Christ, and had allowed the Jewish legalists from Jerusalem to ensnare them in their web of deception, and place them under the bondage of the Mosaic Law, Paul likewise pointedly questioned the young Church at Colosse in a similar manner, when just a few verses later he wrote the following to them:
"Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?"
Colossians 2:20-22, KJV
In other words, Paul is saying, "If you truly believe that you have become dead to the Law through the Body of Christ, then why are you still observing and obeying the doctrines and commandments of men, according to the Mosaic Law?". In summarizing his position regarding Jewish legalism, in his Epistle to the Roman brethren, Paul wrote the following:
"One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind . . . I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean . . . Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
Romans 14:5, 14, 22-23, KJV
What Paul is basically saying is that we must each live our faith according to our personal convictions, and do what we believe is pleasing to the Lord, no matter what others may say or think about it. This includes what day we choose to worship, what foods we eat, etc. However, at the same time, if we read the entire chapter, we recognize that Paul also advocates living in peace with our Christian brethren. Thus he states that we should not purposely go out of our way to stumble and offend anyone through the liberty which we have in Jesus Christ. In short, Paul appears to offer a kind of compromise solution. He seems to suggest that we should live our faith as we feel led of the Lord, while at the same time refraining from doing certain things when we find ourselves in the presence of weaker brethren, if it offends them. This is in fact acting charitably.
Sadly, the problem today -- which I have experienced -- is that some of these legalists and Judaizers do not know how to live peaceably with their Christian brethren. In their self-righteous pride -- because they believe that they are oh so right -- they in fact go out of their way to challenge people, and strive to argue and debate doctrine with their fellow brethren. As I explained earlier, some of them have tried to do this on my Facebook timeline, or else they have messaged me privately in order to aggressively push their legalistic beliefs on me. As I have mentioned before, I do not tolerate this kind of behavior, and I will not hesitate to block such people. I am simply not interested in their legalism. As the Apostle Paul also writes in his Epistle to the Romans:
"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."
Romans 12:18, KJV
Should this not begin with our own Christian brethren? Why then do some of you Christian Judaizers and legalists try so hard to push your views on others who are not interested in them? Enjoy your bondage all you want, but please demonstrate some decency by respecting our right to believe as we feel led by the Lord as well. You have your own timelines; so feel free to promote your doctrines on them, and not on ours.
As some of you will know, during the course of a week, I tend to visit a lot of Facebook timelines due to friend requests that I receive. As a result, I see a lot of things which I do not particularly agree with. I could behave similar to some of these legalists and post a challenging comment which will stir up the pot. However, I don't do this, because it is not my timeline, and each person has the right to operate their own timeline as they see fit, and to promote whatever they want on it. Furthermore, I am not the least bit interested in starting a fire which I do not have the time to put out. In a word, I believe strongly in each individual abiding in his own calling and ministry, as we see by the following verses:
"Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand."
Romans 15:20-21, KJV
"Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called . . . Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God."
1 Corinthians 7:20, 24, KJV
"For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ: Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly, To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand. But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth."
2 Corinthians 10:12-18, KJV
"But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision."
Galatians 2:7-9, KJV
At any rate, contrary to what these misguided Christians may think, I have wondered if it is possible that without even realizing it, they may even be irking the Lord by their very legalism. What makes what they are doing any different from the legalism that the Apostle Paul was so often forced to fight against in his Epistles, as well as during his travels throughout the Mediterranean region during the First Century? I can only wonder how Paul would react if he were to see what is happening in the Christian Church today; a Church which he was in large part responsible for helping to found.
At this point you may be wondering, "Well, if the Mosaic Law was only given to the children of Israel, and was a covenant between them and the Lord, then by what are we Christians to be governed? This is where it gets very interesting, and the Scriptures provide us with a very clear answer regarding this issue. While the Mosaic Law was only given to the Israelites, but not to the Gentile -- or non-Israelite -- nations, as it turns out, in both cases, the Scriptures inform us that God has still written His Laws upon the hearts of both Jews and Gentiles alike. This is made evident by verses such as the following. In Romans, the Apostle Paul speaks of we Gentiles, and in Hebrews he speaks of the Israelites:
"For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)"
Romans 2:14-15, KJV
"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:"
Hebrews 8:10, KJV
As you can see from the previous verses, with or without Moses in the picture, the conclusion is still the same. In other words, regardless of whether or not we Gentiles ever received the written Law -- as the Israelites did through Moses -- nevertheless, the Apostle Paul informs us that the fact that we Gentiles naturally do those things -- or "do by nature" as Paul writes -- which are contained in the Law -- such as thou shalt not kill, steal, commit adultery, etc. -- it demonstrates that God's Laws are written in our hearts. It is in fact what a lot of people today refer to as the "voice of conscience", or as Paul tells us "their conscience also bearing witness". Personally, I prefer to refer to it as the conviction of the Spirit, or the Voice of the Spirit. Exactly what Spirit are we talking about here? The following verses provide us with a very clear answer:
"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
John 4:24, KJV
"He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."
1 John 4:8, KJV
Clearly then, it is the Spirit of Love, which is what God is. Furthermore, as Paul wrote to the Galatian brethren, if we are motivated by this Spirit of Love in everything that we do, we are not under the Law; we are under God's Grace. However, being under Grace is most definitely not a license for any of us to sin. In some regards, God's Royal Law of Love -- which is also the Great Commandment and the Perfect Way -- may even be more strict, because God will expect more of us as His adopted children. We might say that Grace is a kind of honor system. In other words, God expects us to do what is right, as we are motivated by His Love. Consider the following verses which verify some of these points:
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."
Galatians 5:16-18, KJV
"For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid."
Romans 6:14, 15, KJV
In contrast to the above, the Apostle Paul informs us that there are likewise many people in the world who have not accepted Jesus Christ, and whose lives are not governed by God's Spirit of Love. While God's Laws are still written on their hearts as well -- as they are with all men -- they do not abide by them; rather, they resist them. Thus, without God's Grace through Christ, it appears that such people will be judged according to the severity of the Law. In fact, the Apostle Paul writes that it is precisely for these kinds of people that the Law exists in the first place, as we can determine by the following verses:
"But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust."
1 Timothy 1:8-11, KJV
To reiterate my previous point, as the Apostle Paul writes, we have God's Laws written in our own hearts, even without having ever received it through Moses. Even if a person has never heard of Moses, or read the Bible, and even if he is not familiar with the laws of his own land, he knows that it is wrong to murder a person. He knows that it is wrong to steal something from someone else. He knows that it is wrong to engage in an affair with another's husband or wife. How does he know these things? As I said, it is because God has written His Laws on the table of that person's heart. Stated another way, we all know the difference between right and wrong, even if we don't believe in God, because His Laws are stamped on our hearts, and they convict us of wrongdoing.
In the case of the Israelites, as I noted a minute ago, Paul says the same thing regarding them in Hebrews chapter eight when he writes "I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts". In short, in both cases, we are told that God has written His Laws in all of our hearts, so there is no valid excuse for any of us to claim ignorance, and say that we didn't know on the Day of Judgment. Furthermore, it is these same basic moral laws which form the basis of many human legal systems even to this day, whether a society is Christian or not. Sadly, as I mention in other articles, His great Moral Code is slowly being altered by sinful men who fear not God. Please refer to "When Sin is No Longer a Sin".
This contrast between God's Laws being written on tables of stone and tables of flesh -- that is, our hearts -- is made evident in the following verses. In the first seven sets of verses, the two stone tables on which the Ten Commandments were written are mentioned; while in the last four sets of verses tables of flesh -- or our hearts -- are mentioned:
"And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them."
Exodus 24:12, KJV
"And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God."
Exodus 31:18, KJV
"And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount. And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone."
Exodus 34:1-4, KJV
"And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone."
Deuteronomy 4:13, KJV
"These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me."
Deuteronomy 5:22, KJV
"When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water: And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant."
Deuteronomy 9:9-11, KJV
"At that time the LORD said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood. And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark. And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in mine hand."
Deuteronomy 10:1-3, KJV
"Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:"
Proverbs 3:3, KJV
"My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart."
Proverbs 7:1-3, KJV
"The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars;"
Jeremiah 17:1, KJV
"Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart."
2 Corinthians 3:2-3, KJV
Please go to part four for the continuation of this series.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .