By Neal Griffin

Jesus accused the Pharisees of being misled by the Scriptures. By the Scriptures they had been led to something other than Jesus. They thought that because they were favored with possession of them they had eternal life. It is very apparent that they put their trust for salvation in them. Jesus told them that the Scriptures should have led them to Him--the source of eternal life. In another place it is written that Jesus said, "I am the life", which is the very point they missed.

The Pharisees were, I suppose, the first legalists. They were led to legal issues instead of to the Christ of creation--the Author of salvation, and the same is true of todays' legalists. Their substance is spent settling legal issues. Their very lives are devoted to what law says men should do instead of to what Scripture says Jesus has done. They are "ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of Christ". They are led to issues instead of to the Person Jesus. The issue of John 5:39 is that eternal life is in a Person and not in a book.

Legalists are smug in their performance instead of the performance of Jesus. They tout their denominational affiliations, their creedal understandings, their sectarian conclusions, and their imagined obedience, and fail to emphasize the idea of the personal involvement of Jesus living in their hearts. Yes, Jesus living in our hearts is a Scriptural idea. Ephesians 3:17. Salvation, to them, is always cast in light of their performance which is in direct opposition to Titus 3:5: "We are NOT saved by our own works of righteousness". Paul, by the Holy Spirit, taught that our only grounds for boasting are in Jesus. The Gospel denies mankind bragging rights. The Gospel is a declaration of what Jesus has done.1'st Corinthians 15:2-4. Pertaining to salvation our works are as "filthy rags".

Legalists imagine themselves to be righteous by reason of their meticulous attention to legal issues, but New Covenant sons of God are righteous by reason of God's declaration based on the faith of Jesus. Philippians 3:9. They humbly accept His "free gift" trusting in the blood of Jesus. Their boasting is in Jesus. They appropriate the blood of Jesus in the place of their sins. Legalists appropriate their own righteousness. They, as Paul once did, put their trust in "law righteousness" which is not the righteousness that is from above. The righteousness from above has a different basis. The righteousness from above is imputed by reason of faith in Jesus. Philippians 3:9. It is not once written that God intended for man to gain salvation on his own part. In fact, salvation is "impossible" on the part of man. Jesus said so. Matthew 19:26.

The Galatians who put their trust for salvation in something other than Jesus were "fallen from grace". Galatians 5:4. It was clear to Paul what was going on with them. Their emphasis was on law keeping, and so it is with todays' legalists. They insult the Host of heaven by trying to pay Him for His hospitality. The Galatians claimed to trust in Jesus but out of their mouths proceeded the issues of their hearts. Their words betrayed their true intentions. Their vocal emphasis was on law keeping, and so it is with todays' legalists.

Legalism puts the emphasis on law keeping from the dotting of the "I" to the crossing of the "T", but the very Book it views as a law book declares that the "letter kills". 2'nd Corinthians 3:6. W.Carl Ketcherside declared that there is as much difference between legalism and grace as there is between a contract of performance and a free gift. He was exactly right.

Please consider these thoughts. I believe them to be true to the Word. Neal Griffin 10514 Bar X Trail Helotes, Texas 78023

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