1 Timothy 1:5-9
A. The term legalism is one that most of us are familiar with. Over the past few decades, we have heard it with increasing frequency. In almost every instance of use, it is used in an unbiblical manner because of:
1. The deception of liberalism. With many “preachers,” it is a deliberate attempt to attack biblical sanctification and allow the standards of the world to set the standards of the church instead of the church setting the standard for the world. These religious charlatans defame those of us who continue to stand by the Old Paths of sanctification. These men are enemies of both the bible and biblical doctrine. Sanctification is a positive thing that has been made negative by those who reject it.
a) Positional Sanctification is the removal of the believer from the Penalty of sin: the believer being set apart from the world through faith in Christ and the new birth.
b) Practical Sanctification is the removal of the believer from the Power of sin: the believer becoming a new creature created unto good works. It is conforming of the believer to the Word of God instead of the Word of God being conformed to the world.
c) Permanent Sanctification is the removal of the believer from the Presence of sin: the removal of the believer from this world at either death or the rapture of the Church.
2. The ignorance of believers. Much of this problem is a problem with the pulpits of American that will not teach and preach the whole counsel of God which includes salvation, sanctification, and service. You cannot properly serve unless you are saved and right with the Lord. These ignorant believers can be separated into two classes:
a) The innocently ignorant. The Ethiopian Eunuch, when ask if he understood what he read, asked, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. He was ignorant of God’s Word but had a desire to learn. We find people all over the Bible Belt in this condition because of the deterioration of the pulpit.
b) The willfully ignorant. These have either been taught the bible or at least knew that there was something more than they had and did not desire it. They have their life and lifestyle and it will not be allowed to be changed by scriptural teaching. Many that we meet on visitation know that they are in a liberal church but willfully remain there.
B. What is Legalism? The answer is found in verses 7-8: it is the improper or misuse of the Law. Paul told Timothy that there is nothing wrong with the Law if it is “used lawfully.” In Acts 15, Paul confronted these so-called “teachers of the law” called Judizers, who abused the proper use of the law. They would seek to put New Testament believers back under the Old Testament law. These teachers Paul mentioned in verse 7 are still with us today.
C. Several heresies come from varying degrees of misapplying the law.
1. The observance of the Jewish Sabbath. The most widely known denomination that observes the Jewish Sabbath is the Seventh Day Adventists.
2. The keeping of the Dietary Laws. While working of my doctorate, I had to take a course in Dietary Law. The text book misinterpretated many verses by declaring that the animals that were unclean under Jewish Dietary Law were unclean to the New Testament believer. God told Noah, after the flood, that “every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” In the Book of Acts, God said to Peter, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” In 1 Timothy 4:4, the bible says, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.”
3. The list could go on but this message is not to try to expose every heretical teaching concerning the misuse of the Law. I want to look at the proper use of the Law and that will expose the heresy.
1. What is the Law? The Law was given by Moses, therefore, it is call the Mosaic Law: a legal system of 613 laws given in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. John 1:17 says, “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” The Old Testament ended with a curse while the New Testament ended with a blessing. The Mosaic Law or the “Law” as it is known biblically, is actually broken down into 4 different categories:
a. The Moral Law – given in Exodus 20. “Thou shalt not!” These are the laws that are still instilled within the people of the “old school.” Moral laws in an immoral society.
b. The Civil Law – these are the laws that regulated and civilized Israel’s society. Without laws (our system of law is based upon the Civil Law of Israel), there would be anarchy.
c. The Ceremonial Law – these were the laws of worship. The cleansings; the sacrifices; the priesthood; and the atonement. These laws brought about both purpose and order in worship. God is a God of purpose and, even in the church, we are to worship decently and in order.
d. The Dietary Law – these were the laws concerning clean and unclean animals. Before the flood, everyone and everything was vegetarian. After the flood, Noah was given the liberty to eat any and everything but was to refrain from the blood. The Dietary Law was given to the Jewish Nation and not the gentiles. The saved Jews of the New Testament were set at liberty concerning diet with the exceptions of blood and things strangled.
The Law prohibits and demands...Grace beseeches and bestows.
The Law was given to Israel...Grace is offered to all men.
The Law says, “Do and Live”...Grace says, “Believe and Live.”
The Law condemns...Grace forgives.
The Law leaves men guilty...Grace leaves men justified.
The Law curses...Grace redeems.
The Law kills...Grace makes alive.
The Law was nailed to the cross...Grace expands to both sides of the cross.
The Law is a yoke of bondage...Grace is sets us free.
The Law shuts every mouth before God...Grace opens every mouth to praise God.
Under Law, sheep die for the shepherd...Under grace, the Shepherd dies for the sheep!
2. What characterized the Law? The Law afforded no grace, no compassion, and no mercy. It required complete and continual obedience in all aspects.
Acts 15:10-11 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? (11) But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. (No man has ever kept the Law other than Christ.)
Galatians 3:10-13 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (11) But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. (12) And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. (13) Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: (If you are under the Law, you must keep the unkeepable.)
Galatians 5:3-4 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. (4) Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. (If your are justified by the law then you have missed completely the grace of God from which salvation flows!)
James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (There are no degrees of sin and the wages of sin singular brings about eternal damnation. This includes both sins of commission and omission. One sin, no matter how seemingly miniscule brings about eternal damnation.)
He that is under the law is a debtor to keep the whole Law, not just a portion of it (Galatians 5:3). The Law was given to a particular people: Israel. The people of Israel agreed with and to the Law in Exodus 18:8 when they said, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.” The covenant was between Jehovah God and the children of Israel. The Law began at Mt. Sinai and fulfilled by Jesus Christ on the cross.
Colossians 2:13-14 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (14) 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; (Is by grace that we are saved, not of works lest we boast.)
Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve.
Grace is God’s unmerited favor towards hell deserving sinners.
Grace is God looking beyond my faults and seeing my need.
Grace is God loving the unlovely.
Grace is God doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
3. What the Law cannot do. **Romans 10:1-4 **Romans 3:19-31 The Law was never meant as a means of righteousness. Those who are trying to keep the Law in order to be right with God positionally are ignorant of the righteousness of God. The Law is good because God made it but He made it for a purpose other than to establish righteousness unto salvation. The Law was instituted as the standard of God’s holiness: a measure of holiness that man is incapable of reaching in this world. Atonement was instituted until the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world came. The Law instituted atonement for sin while Calvary absolved our sin.
a. The law cannot redeem - Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
b. The law cannot justify - Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
c. The law cannot free from condemnation - Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
d. The law cannot free from sin and death - Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
e. The law cannot free from the curse - Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
f. The law cannot impart grace - Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
g. The law cannot bring righteousness - Galatians 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.