What Is the Biblical Definition of Legalism?

Galatians 3

A Wild and Crazy Place to Be

The spiritual Babylon of the church system is a warm and comfortable place in which to live. Within its comfort zones, it has fixed boundaries and clear delineations. When one steps out of the mainstream church system, however, and into a more Hebraic and Torah-pursuant spiritual orientation, it can becomes the shooting gallery of the wild, wild west of doctrines and ideas. 

Outside the so-called organized church system, or churchianity for short, it’s a free-for-all wilderness of every man doing what’s right in his own eyes. In this wilderness outside of organized religion, one has to determine which church beliefs to hold on to and which ones are lies and unbiblical traditions our spiritual fathers have passed on down to us. Here one must learn to separate the spiritual wheat from the chaff. As one’s eyes are opened to the pro-Torah Hebrew roots of the Christian faith, there are many new ideas and doctrines to consider. When coming onward and upward to a fuller knowledge of the truth, one must determine priorities without falling prey to more false doctrines and legalism. This includes determining which biblical truths are the trunk of the tree issues, and which areas are the twigs and the branches. 

In the midst of this confusion, there are many winds of doctrines blowing around capturing people’s attention. People often get sidetracked from the trunk of the tree issues and get hung up on nonessential issues. Paul warned about this.

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind [violent agitation, very strong tempestuous wind] of doctrine [teaching, instruction], by the sleight [deception] of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive [to delude, lead astray from the right way]. (Eph 4:14)

If one is not grounded firmly on the foundation of essential biblical truths, one can get hung up on side-issues that can become nonessential pet doctrines. Those who fall prey to this tendency will often gravitate toward biblical teachers who agree with them. A pet doctrine can become so important to a person that it can become a spiritual idol in one’s heart. One can become so convinced of the importance of a nonessential doctrine or belief that one will begin to demand that others around them conform to it, and then view those who don’t as somehow inferior spiritually. This is legalism. These pet doctrines often lead to pride and exclusivism toward those who do not agree with us and our pet doctrines. If not careful, we can develop an us versus them mentality, and become prideful because we posses a truth that the next guy doesn’t. 

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (1 Tim 4:3)

What Is Legalism?

When one begins to emphasise pet doctrines there is a tendency toward exclusivism (wanting to hang out with others who also hold to these same pet doctrines), which can lead to legalism. 

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Confronting the Lies About Paul—Galatians Explained from a Hebraic Perspective

You have been lied to about Paul and his epistle to about the Book of Galatians!

An Important Question

When addressing the lies that the mainstream church has been dishing out like a load of dung against Paul and the Word of Elohim (i.e. Yeshua the Messiah, the Word of Elohim) since the time of the early church fathers, let us first ask an important question that has far-reaching implication including whether you can trust the Bible and whether you are saved or not. In the Epistle to the Galatians. It is this: Is Paul advocating the abrogation of the Torah-law as mainstream Christianity teaches or not?

This is the lens through which most Christians view Galatians. For example, the chapter subheadings in my NKJV Bible reveal the antitorah bias of mainstream Christianity. The heading above Galatians 2:11 reads, “No Return to the Law,” and the heading over Gal 3:10 reads, “ The Law Brings a Curse.” When Christians study their Bibles and encounter these subheadings that are written by men and not inspired by the Spirit, what are they to think? Most don’t questions the scholars who translate the Bible or the publishers sell the Bibles. Most readers will automatically thinks to themselves, “After all, these translators and publishers are Bible experts, they know more than I do, so who am I to question them?”

Interestingly, the same author of Galatians elsewhere admonishes us to, “Prove/test all things; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thess 5:21). This is the responsibility of each saint as he studies the word of Elohim. Therefore, it behooves us to have a touch of intellectual scepticism when studying the Scriptures to insure that we’re not unwittingly putting our faith in the traditions and doctrines of men by which the word of Elohim has been made of none-effect (Mark 7:913), and that we haven’t inherited lies that have been passed on down to us from our spiritual fathers (Jer 16:19). Let us instead be like the righteous Bereans who “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

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The “Schoolmaster” Concept in Galatians 3:24 Explained

Recently, a reader of this blog asked me to explain Paul’s statement in Galatians 3:24.

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Here is my promised explanation.

Galatians 3:24, Schoolmaster. The church’s concept and understanding of the schoolmaster is incorrect. Consider what David Stern has to say about it:

Stern in his Complete Jewish Bible translates schoolmaster as custodian. He explains why in his JNT Commentary (p. 553). The word translated as schoolmaster in the KJV and other English Bibles is the Greek word paidagogos which literally means boy-leader. In ancient Greece a paidagogos was a slave who conducted a boy to and from school and was not actually the school teacher. You can verify this definition in Webster’s dictionary. As languages evolve words change in meanings. Therefore, a secondary modern meaning of pedagogue is a teacher or schoolmaster and pedagogy is the science of teaching. Stern explains that the ancient Greek paidagogos had no teaching function and although the Torah had as one of its goals the leading of Jewish people to the Messiah, as Paul explicitly states at Romans 10:4, that is not the import of the present verse. The paidagogos actually would have been a harsh disciplinarian for the Jewish people, providing some protection but generally making the Jewish person aware of many transgressions so that Jews might turn from legalistic rule-following and be declared righteous legally on the basis of faith and being faithful to Yeshua, whose trusting faithfulness to God the Father purchased our salvation.”

Just because the Torah-pedagogue brought us to the Messiah, doesn’t mean we don’t need it anymore. This is a presumptuous and false understanding of Paul in Galatians 3:24 in its broader context. 

One purpose of the Torah was to identify our sin (1 John 3:4)  and hence our need for the  Messiah who forgives that sin. This is what Paul is saying in Gal 3:24. 

However, according to the Bible, that isn’t the only purpose of the Torah. It also shows how to walk in righteousness once Messiah has forgiven us of our sins. It also shows us how to love Elohim with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbor as ourself, as Yeshua declared in Mark 12:28–31. Love is also the fulfilling of the law, as Paul states in Romans 13:8–10. It also shows us how to know Elohim intimately (1 John 2:3) and how to have the love of Elohim in us (1 John 2:5) and how to walk as Yeshua walked (1 John 2:6).It also shows us how to love the Messiah (John 14:15). It also shows us how to be blessed physically in this lifetime (Deut 28), and will determine our level of spiritual rewards in the world to come (Matt 5:19). Sadly, the mainstream church doesn’t teach these biblical truths.

To say that we don’t need the Torah any longer is tantamount to saying that it’s now all right to worship idols, take Elohim’s name in vain, dishonor our parents, steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, covet, have sex with animals, etc. This is, of course, absurd. But this, in reality, is what those who say the law was done away with are saying.


 

What Is the Biblical Definition of Legalism?

 

A Wild and Crazy Place to Be

The spiritual Babylon of the church system is a warm and comfortable place in which to live. Within its comfort zones, it has fixed boundaries and clear delineations. When one steps out of the mainstream church system, however, and into a more Hebraic and Torah-pursuant spiritual orientation, it can becomes the shooting gallery of the wild, wild west of doctrines and ideas. 

Outside the so-called organized church system, or churchianity for short, it’s a free-for-all wilderness of every man doing what’s right in his own eyes. In this wilderness outside of organized religion, one has to determine which church beliefs to hold on to and which ones are lies and unbiblical traditions our spiritual fathers have passed on down to us. Here one must learn to separate the spiritual wheat from the chaff. As one’s eyes are opened to the pro-Torah Hebrew roots of the Christian faith, there are many new ideas and doctrines to consider. When coming onward and upward to a fuller knowledge of the truth, one must determine priorities without falling prey to more false doctrines and legalism. This includes determining which biblical truths are the trunk of the tree issues, and which areas are the twigs and the branches. 

In the midst of this confusion, there are many winds of doctrines blowing around capturing people’s attention. People often get sidetracked from the trunk of the tree issues and get hung up on nonessential issues. Paul warned about this.

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind [violent agitation, very strong tempestuous wind] of doctrine [teaching, instruction], by the sleight [deception] of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive [to delude, lead astray from the right way]. (Eph 4:14)

If one is not grounded firmly on the foundation of essential biblical truths, one can get hung up on side-issues that can become nonessential pet doctrines. Those who fall prey to this tendency will often gravitate toward biblical teachers who agree with them. A pet doctrine can become so important to a person that it can become a spiritual idol in one’s heart. One can become so convinced of the importance of a Continue reading


 

Galatians: Explanation of Terms and Quick Overview

Definition of Terms in Galatians

The law (the Torah):

The Torah of Elohim as contained in the first five books of Scripture (the Penteteuch [Greek] or Chumash [Hebrew]). Defined literally, Torah in Hebrew meansteachings, precepts, instructions [in righteousness].” In the Jewish religion the term Torah can have both broader and narrower meanings than just the five books of Moses: (a) the entire Tenakh (or Old Testament); (b) the Oral Law; (c) or strictly the legal code (non-narrative) parts of the first five books of Moses. 

The law versus [a] law: 

In most cases where the term the law is found in the English “New” Testaments, the definite article the is not part of the original Greek (this can be verified by consulting a Greek interlinear), even though the English translators have not italicized it indicating it as a word which has been added by the translators to clarify the meaning of the text (as they have in the KJV and NASB Bibles). The term law by itself (without the definite article the preceding) can, at times, simply refer to: (a) any legal code of do’s and don’ts without reference to faith, heart conviction or love; (b) legalism; (c) a perversion of the Torah into a system of do’s and don’ts to earn, merit or keep Elohim’s love and favor and thereby to receive salvation. 

Under [the] law: 

(3:23; 4:4, 5, 21; 5:18; also Rom 3:19; 6:14, 15; 1 Cor 9:20, 21) under [the] law can alternatively be rendered under subjection to legalism, according to David Stern. Finally, let’s look actually at the Greek word under as it is used in the phrase under law. 

The Complete Jewish Bible (by David Stern) translates the phrase under [the] law as under legalism (see Stern’s Jewish New Testament Commentary, p. 344 where he Continue reading


 

New Video: Galatians 3:19–25 & Colossians 2:16–17 Explained

Is Galatians chapter three saying that all the laws of Elohim were added only until Jesus/Yeshua, and that Christians are now free from them? What law was added, who/what is the tutor to lead us to Messiah and how does the Torah-law of Elohim affect us today?

Is Colossians 2:16–17 speaking for or against the biblical feasts and dietary laws?

This video explains these difficult passages of Paul the apostle.


 

New Video: The Old & New Covenants Compared—The Letter & Spirit of the Law Explained

YHVH Elohim is calling His saints to be spiritual mountain climbers. In their spiritual journey upward, His people started at sea level in Egypt, then He called them to meet Him at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah, then to come up closer to Him at Mount Zion, then higher still to receive the Set-Apart Spirit and the Torah-law written on their hearts on the Day of Pentecost, and higher still to the New Jerusalem from above, which is coming to the earth soon at the second coming of the Messiah.

The study notes to this teaching are available at https://hoshanarabbah.org/blog/2017/06/03/happy-shavuot-2017/