PART #0012 of “WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD”
“Lethal” is a very strong word, signifying that which is gravely damaging, destructive, devastating, and walks ‘hand in glove’ with “legalism”.
Legalism contains a pride-filled arrogance, which is always looking to viciously attack the Grace of God.
This lethal legalism is a nasty spirit, showing it’s ugly head in various forms.
And it has effectively made inroads into the Church, almost to a point of saturation.
It seeks to control, manipulate, coerce and override the Spirit of Grace and finds its resting place in religion.
Hence it is ‘incapable’ of imparting Grace.
And so it must display a “form of godliness”, but denying ‘the power of Grace’ for what it is.
And this religious spirit of legalism is a lethal weapon of Satan, to blind men from the truth of God’s liberating Grace that has come by the way of the cross.
Legalism has only ‘one finger’, which is a ‘pointing’ one, always looking to find fault, criticise, judge and condemn.
This religious spirited legalism is both a demon and a lethal sword designed to ‘kill, steal and destroy’, which tells us the source!
The reason for this is because legalism, though zealous, is just about totally void of knowledge.
And because it is void of knowledge, it is void of true wisdom.
It will talk unendingly of knowledge and wisdom, and yet itself lack both.
And here is the thing; at the end of the day, it will turn on its own master, the one who carries it.
And those who carry this spirit, if not checked, are also in danger of getting past a point of no return.
God’s Proponent Of Grace
Just as Moses was God’s Hand-picked proponent of “The Law’, the apostle Paul is God’s Hand-picked proponent of “Grace”.
And it is just amazing to see how much of Christendom have a ‘HUGE’ problem with this.
They still want Moses to keep an eye on, oversee and control Paul the apostle.
But Paul is not for sale! And he is certainly not going to dance!
Paul is completely a bond servant / slave only to the very “PERSON OF GRACE, JESUS CHRIST Himself [Romans 1:1].
And as much as the legalists of the religious sect of Christendom want to rant and rave, Moses, that is ‘The Law’, has no place in ‘Paul’s ministration of Grace’.
Let’s see what God Himself, that is Scripture, has to say about this in [2 Corinthians 3:6-9].
Paul is stating God has not given us a ministry of the Law (the Ten Commandments), but of the Spirit.
And then he tells us the vitally important ‘life and death’ reason why, “for the letter (the Law) killeth, but the spirit giveth life”.
The Law can do nothing but condemn and declare us “guilty” [Romans 3:19].
Death Versus Life
Hence Scripture calls it “the ministration of death”, written and engraved” on cold tablets of stone.
The Law was “the ministration of condemnation”
And this was the ministry of Moses, and it was glorious, says the Scripture.
BUT, Scripture also says that it was just ‘temporary’.
Why? Because it could not give life!
And so this glory “was to be done away” with, and replaced with a “greater glory”, the “ministration of life”.
‘THIS’ was the “ministration of the spirit” which came by the way of the cross and is here to stay, “the ministration of Righteousness”.
And it is ‘THIS ministry’ that Paul the great apostle was entrusted with by Christ Jesus, which he carried out ‘faithfully’.
There are no apologies for calling Paul the apostle ‘great’, for he was as ‘faithful’ as was Moses “in all his house” [Hebrews 3:5].
And they both ‘had to be’, for JESUS CHRIST, God the Son, was directly involved in both.
The ‘Giver of the Law’ at Mount Sinai was also to be the ‘Giver Of Grace’ at the same Mount [CRUMB 0053].
Absolutely it was JESUS CHRIST, God the Son!
Does Grace Annul The Law?
“God forbid” or “by no means”, as Paul would often say, in fact, rather the contrary.
The apostle tells us that, “For by Grace are ye saved through faith” in [Ephesians 2:8].
And this ‘saving faith’, which is the Grace of God that came via the cross “establishes the Law” [Romans 3:31].
The Law, the Ten Commandments, is the very mind and expression of God and it can NEVER be annulled.
It is WHO HE IS!
But the demands of the ‘thou shall’ and ‘thou shalt not”, was too burdensome for the ‘sinful man’ to keep.
It was impossible and God knew that.
So what does God do?
HE, Himself, as the “Giver of the Law”, in the “Person of the Son”, becomes man and fulfils every demand of the Law to perfection.
And having done so, He then nailed to the cross, every demand and ordinance of the Law, and every sin of ‘ALL’ men for ‘ALL’ time.
Absolutely HE did! PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE!
This is a ‘doctrinal truth’ of the finished works of the cross.
And this ‘spirit of legalism’ does not want us to know that.
“Oh! I would not tell them that”, is said by many.
“Well, why not” is our response, “why you want to hide what God has revealed”? .
“Oh you’re giving them a licence to live however they want”, they say.
So now, by saying what God has revealed through the cross, makes us a ‘licence giver’?
Can you see this whole ridiculousness of a ‘legalistic spirit’?
We speak this from personal experience.
Simple ‘common sense’ tells us that there is no such thing as ‘unlimited freedom’, irrespective of whether one is ‘in Christ’ or ‘out of Christ’.
We need to stay away from such people, for they will always find something to throw stones at.
Look to focus on what the Apostle Paul teaches, you will always be on ‘solid ground’.
And if you fall, anybody can and will, “get up and keep going”, for God’s Grace is with you, and there is no condemnation hanging over your head.
It’s what Christ Jesus came for!
You will yet get it right!
[Hebrews 12:12-13], It’s called ‘endurance’!
TRUST THE CROSS
God places no higher value on anything in Heaven above or the earth below than the cross of His SON.
HE totally trusts in His Own “finished work”.
I’m sure we can too!
And as Paul the apostle says, to keep, “serving one another in love” in [Galatians 5:13-14].
For it is in ‘THIS’, says the apostle, that “ALL THE LAW”, that is “ALL THE TEN COMMANDMENTS”, not just ‘some of the Law’ “is fulfilled”.
“Even in this”, he says, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”.
We are all sinners and have come short of God’s Glory [Romans 3:23].
“BUT NOW”, because of the cross, “in Christ Jesus”, we are “made nigh by the Blood of Christ” [Ephesians 2:13].
Just about every time you see “but” or “but now” in the epistles of Paul the apostle, it is so, “because of the cross”.
This Amazing Grace that has come by the way of the cross is the “Crowning Glory” on God’s Righteousness and His Holiness.
“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” [Romans 6:14].
TRUST THE CROSS, which has saved you, to fulfil its every purpose in your life and then bring you safely home!
Zeal Without Knowledge [Romans 10:1-2]
Paul, who had a great burden for his fellow Jews, bears record that, “they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge”.
He has no doubt as to their religious sincerity, and he can testify about them from his own experience.
And he knew what he was talking about, because he himself in his pre-conversion life was ‘exceedingly zealous’ in his religion [Galatians 1:13-14].
His zeal was such an ‘obsession’, that he persecuted the Church of God.
So he has no problem telling his fellows Jews, “you have zeal, but it is not according to knowledge”.
Even Scripture in [Proverbs 19:2] says that ‘it is not good to have zeal without knowledge’.
“Sincerity is not enough, for we may be sincerely mistaken”, was well said by John Stott, the great English theologian.
“The proper word for ‘zeal without knowledge’, ‘commitment without reflection’, or ‘enthusiasm without understanding’, is ‘fanaticism’.”
“And ‘fanaticism’ is a horrid and dangerous state to be in”.
Christendom is full of such ‘religious fanatics’, and for the most part, the legalists of Christendom fall into that category.
John Stott went on to say this too:
“Many Christians have zeal without knowledge, enthusiasm without enlightenment.
In more modern jargon, they are keen but clueless”.
Hard as this may sound, there is a lot of truth in that statement.
When it comes to Paul’s understanding and wisdom, it’s not that they don’t know.
They don’t want to know!
Paul the apostle was, is and will always be the Church’s greatest need of the hour.
For, without him, one will continue to remain clueless and without understanding.
The wisdom and the understanding for this Age of Grace lies only with the apostle Paul.
And this comes from the mouth of a legalistic, Law keeping Jew and an apostle of Christ, [2 Peter 3:15-16].
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
In this series of “WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD”, we have dealt with the good and the bad.
That is the “simple humble believer”, and the “fence sitter”.
Now we have something for the ‘ugly’, which are the “legalists”.
These are people which carry this ugly spirit of legalism. For that is what it is! It’s ugly!
And [Hebrews 6:1-6] certainly doesn’t let them off the hook.
For they have converted Blood bought, ‘Grace-Filled liberty in Christ’ into ‘Religious Bondage’, which is a serious problem.
Paul was confronted with this same problem during his ministry, and had to take quick action, which we find in the Galatian epistle.
The same goes on in Christendom today, and here is the thing:
They too have been enlightened and have tasted of the “good word” of God.
But they have refused to let go of “the Words of the beginning of Christ”, Christ’s earthly ministry.
What does Paul say in [Romans 15:8]? “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision (only Israel, the Jews) for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers”
But this means nothing to them!
They don’t want to accept that Jesus Christ came only for the Jews, “under the Law” and not the Gentiles at that time, even though Scripture makes it so plain and clear.
All Still Hung Up On The Old
They are all still hung up on the old foundations of repentance from dead works, doctrines of baptism and laying on of hands etc.
They don’t want to “leave” all that in order to move on into and with Paul and his higher doctrines of Grace.
(We have understood what this word “leave” is all about in CRUMB 0081).
And this stiff-necked mindset and attitude of theirs have put off many, and have even caused some to “depart from the faith”.
These stalwarts of religious legalism have outright refused to follow Paul the apostle [1 Corinthians 11:1].
“We don’t follow Paul, we only follow Jesus”.
They want and choose to think Jesus Christ is still out there roaming the dusty roads of Jerusalem.
But He’s not.
HE said “it is finished” and then HE ‘moved on’.
Christ is where Paul is today.
Preaching And Teaching Paul’s Grace
Legalists ‘will attack’ anyone who defends and teaches Paul’s liberating ‘Grace message’ with its higher doctrines, “without the Law”.
The great apostle Paul faced the same attack, “as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say………..” [Romans 3:8]
“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves are also found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin?………” [Galatians 2:17]
A great preacher of the bygone days put it aptly.
“Keep preaching God’s Amazing Grace on and on and on and on, till you are finally, viciously and falsely attacked with the accusation of preaching ‘loose living’. You know then that you’re in the right place”
If you are preaching Paul’s Gospel and his doctrine of Grace, as God’s Word commands us to do, you will have enemies.
And they’ll mostly be Church-going people.
Religious legalism within Christendom wants to add a few more nails to the cross, or take some things down from it that God has nailed.
This is what the spirit of legalism does!
It is both lethal and dangerous, and does not really care that the eternal destinies of men are at stake.
It wants to control, to keep you under its legalistic thumb.
Paul Disturbs the Spirit of Legalism
The very name of Paul actually disturbs the spirit of legalism.
And no marvel! Remember the demons encountering the sons of Sceva in [Acts 19:13-17]?
Take a look at what this demon said:
“Jesus I know, Paul I know”……..”but who are you?”
Wow! These demons and evil spirits knew Paul just like they knew Jesus Christ.
Even the demons and the evil spirits recognized and acknowledged the “apostolic authority” of Paul, because they recognized its ‘SOURCE’.
But the so-called Church going religious clubs of legalism don’t want to.
It’s not that they can’t. THEY DON’T WANT TO! Now that’s quite something!
And so they are not comfortable with the apostle Paul.
They are so consumed in their legalism, and therein lies ‘their’ danger!
For if they don’t change their mind and pay serious heed to Paul the apostle, they will too also tip past the point of no return.
No Loss of Salvation
We are by no means saying that they will lose their salvation, for salvation is irrevocable.
Nor are we suggesting that they are lost.
They could well be saved and will make heaven, but their stint on earth could well end up being wretched.
For there are those who started out well, but over a period of time have been drawn and consumed by this ugly spirit of legalism.
And it is sad to see, even their facial demeanour which was once a pleasant sight, has been marred by this nasty spirit.
Like we said in the beginning, at the end of the day, it will turn on its own master, the one who carries it.
For it is a very destructive spirit!
If you are one carrying this spirit of legalism today, and you’re reading this, we want to say this to you.
And it’s the same as what Paul said to his fellow Jews in [Hebrews 6:9].
“We are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation”.
God’s Grace Does Not Compromise
God’s Grace does not compromise God’s Law.
Why would it? Because that would mean God compromising Himself!
And we know that is just not possible.
On the other hand, God’s Grace “fulfils” God’s Law as we have so clearly seen from the Scriptures.
“FOLLOW ME” was Christ earthly call.
And that has not changed, for those same Words are Christ’s Heavenly call today.
But here is the thing:
Christ Jesus has left the dusty roads of Israel.
He is no longer with Matthew, Mark Luke and John.
Today He is with the apostle Paul and has been so for the last two thousand years.
And He’s going to stay there with Paul the apostle till this Age of Grace winds up in Glory!
SO to follow Him, where do we need to be?
“The answer is pretty obvious and clear.”