Christ’s View of ‘Legalism’ Mark 2:18-28

Text: “…Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Thy disciples fast not?”

Mark 2:18.

          “And the Pharisees said unto Him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?

Mark 2:24.

 Good morning, sinner saved by God’s Grace!  Unlike the legalists, concerned more with the do’s and don’ts of humanistic religion than being ‘born again’ of the Spirit of God,  you have been made Eternally FREE from all mere efforts of fallen flesh to obtain Eternal Salvation. 

Yours is a Gospel of DONE, rather than a list of rites that must be strictly performed before Salvation is humanly achieved.  You actually believe the cry of triumph from the Cross of Christ – “It is FINISHED!”  Hallelujah!  All necessary for the Salvation of sinner’s souls was once-for-all-time FINISHED, COMPLETED, by Christ at Calvary’s Cross.  Hallelujah!  What a Saviour!

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration (being born again), and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of Eternal life.”   (Titus 3:5-7)

Sinners – you and I – are saved by God’s Sovereign grace, or we are not saved at all.  Fact!  We cannot convince ourselves of our own sin, for we are born naturally selfish, proud, and self-righteous in sin; nor can we obtain, seek, or possess the faith and repentance from sin necessary, in order to even think of ourselves as sinners against God, or needing His Eternal Salvation. 

The Salvation of sinners like we, Spiritually dead in sin and trespasses, comes to us exclusively by God’s working in us, ‘His people’, granting us His gifts of faith and repentance, and calling us with His effectual calling to Salvation in Christ alone.

“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing Spiritual things with Spiritual.  BUT the natural man (unsaved) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are Spiritually discerned.”     (1 Corinthians 2:13-14)

Faith in Christ and repentance from sin are both gifts of God – given only to those whom He has elected to save, from before the foundation of the world.  If we are not blessed with those two gifts from our Sovereign Lord God – we can never be saved by humanistic works.

“For by grace (unmerited favour from our Sovereign Lord God) are ye saved though faith; and that not of yourselves (we cannot earn it, work towards it, our inherit it by human will): it is the gift of God: not of works (human deeds, human will), lest any man should boast.  For we are His workmanship, CREATED in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained (preordained) that we should walk in them.”  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Legalism Defined: “Legalism: strict adherence to law; the doctrine that Salvation depends on strict adherence to the law, as distinguished from the doctrine of Salvation by grace (theology); the tendency to observe letter or form rather than spirit, or to regard things from the point of view of law. Legalist (noun): someone inclined to legalism; someone knowledgeable about the law.”  (The Chambers Dictionary, page 919)

The late Free Presbyterian Pastor, Alan Cairns, defines legalism as: “The dogma of Salvation by works, the heresy that man must earn a place in Heaven by his personal righteousness…Neonomianism: the theory that woks of obedience are a constituent part of saving faith, rather than its natural fruit…As is often popularly expressed, ‘God has done His part, now it is up to you to do your part.’  In the scheme of the Neonomian, ‘…this doing is the condition of Salvation; it is not the fruit of the free gift of saving faith, Sovereignly imparted by God to His elect.’” (Dictionary of Theological Terms, by Alan Cairns, page 211) 

From verse 18, through to verse 28 of our selected Scripture from Mark’s Gospel, the Scribes and Pharisees revealed their total reliance on such legalism as strict conditions for Salvation: Fasting, Do and Don’t Works; Sabbath Observance – are all set forth in faithless opposition to the freedom of God’s grace being offered sinners by the Lord Jesus Christ.

J.C. Ryle Comments:

“How was it with the Galatian Church? It is recorded in St. Paul’s epistle. Men wished in that Church to re­concile Judaism with Christianity, and to circumcise as well as baptize. They endeavoured to keep alive the law of ceremonies and ordinances, and to place it side by side with the Gospel of Christ. In fact, they would fain have put the “new wine into old bottles.” And in so doing they greatly erred.

“How was it with the early Christian Church, after the apostles were dead? We have it recorded in the pages of Church history. Some tried to make the Gospel more acceptable by mingling it with Platonic philosophy. Some laboured to recommend it to the heathen by bor­rowing forms, processions, and vestments from the tem­ples of heathen gods. In short, they “sewed the new patch on the old garment.” And in so doing they scattered and broadcast the seeds of enormous evil. They paved the way for the whole Romish apostasy.

“How is it with many professing Christians in the pre­sent day? We have only to look around us and see. There are thousands who are trying to reconcile the service of Christ and the service of the world, to have the name of Christian and yet live the life of the ungodly, —to keep in with the servants of pleasure and sin, and yet be the followers of the crucified Jesus at the same time. In a word, they are trying to enjoy the “new wine,” and yet to cling to the “old bottles.” They will find one day that they have attempted that which cannot be done.” (J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels 1816-1900)

Thought:  Christ came to set us free from sin by His free grace – let us not seek to drink His new wine from the old bottles of humanistic legalism.  The Truth has set us free!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I invite comments that are Christian in nature. All comments are moderated, and any negative submissions are deleted and never published.