ALLEGIANCE, LICENSE, AND LEGALISM
We hear quite often that since Christ came, died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, and we put our trust and faith in Him we can live without the law. That seems to be growing in popularity. Let me add here that there are sins which the law of God does not directly address, but they are sins. When you live in a society where the drinking of alcoholic beverage is more than tolerated, but almost admired, and when you are encouraged to drink it when you are watching the television through the commercials, then, it is time to stand and say this is wicked, vile, and evil. When the society we live in practically worships sexuality, and indecent, adulterous, promiscuous sexual conduct; then, it is also time to declare to the world and society that pornography is wicked, and rebellion against God.
There are those in Christian circles who say to us, “We are free in Christ”. I would be the first to admit our freedom in Christ. However, that term freedom in Christ is too often taken our of the Biblical context. It has absolutely nothing to do with ‘Freedom to sin’; it has everything to do with living Christ like, holy, righteous, undefiled lives; it is, in fact, the “Freedom to live for Christ”. Being no longer against Him, but with Him how can any child of God believe that freedom to be freedom to live in absolut rebellion to His holiness.
Do we discount the law, especially because according to Jesus He did not come to destroy them, but to fulfill them? Did He fulfill them? Yes!!! Does that means we are unaccountable to the law?
Let me give the definition of the three basic words of our title. They all will be addressed in this message
, a. [Gr. against, and law.] Against law; pertaining to the Antinomians.
, n. One of a sect who maintain, that, under the gospel dispensation, the law is of no use or obligation; or who hold doctrines which supersede the necessity of good works and a virtuous life. This sect originated with John Agricola about the year 1538. OLD WEBSTER DICTIONARY e-Sword.
, n. [L. alligo, of ad and ligo, to bind. See Liege and League.]
The tie or obligation of a subject to his Prince or government; the duty of fidelity to a king, government or state. Every native or citizen owes allegiance to the government under which he is born. This is called natural or implied allegiance, which arises from the connection of a person with the society in which he is born, and his duty to be a faithful subject, independent of any express promise. Express allegiance, is that obligation which proceeds from an express promise, or oath of fidelity.
Local or temporary allegiance is due from an alien to the government or state in which he resides. OLD WEBSTER DICTIONARY From e-Sword.
Strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to the religious or moral code. THE MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY
The reason I use the word ‘antinomian’ above is because that is the word which best describes the lawless. The ones who want us to believe that we are above the law, because we have been saved through faith in Jesus.
If we are Christian, ie., ‘Christlike’, then we must behave like Jesus. That would mean fulfilling the law. He tells us, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.” We must put on a DEFINITE SPIRITUAL ALLEGIANCE to our Lord Jesus Christ. The Law and the Prophets is clearly the Old Testament Scriptures. It is the only Scriptures the people of Jesus’s day and the apostles had to read. It was the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah’s prophecy Jesus read from the day He declared Himself as having come. We often on certain occasions Pledge Allegiance to our Flag – the flag of the United States of America. When we talk of pledging allegiance to our Lord, we get to thinking it too costly. We owe fidelity to our King – King Jesus and His government. We were born under His government, thus, allegiance is owed to Him. When we received the covenant of salvation and baptism we pledged our allegiance to Him and His laws.
Jesus continues, then, by saying, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (NKJV). These laws are for the moral good of our society. It seems to be also, that, though there are not direct applications to certain aspects of sin having to do with certain societies, there is still an application of the morality God’s law establishes. Anything that is harmful to our fellow human being, fitting into the final six of the Ten Commandments, would be a violation of the law. There are some who will tell us, “If it is not directly named and forbiden by the law, then we cannot call it sin”. There are many sins not directly mentioned or named and forbidden in the Bible. Consider for example, pornography, gambling, beverage alcohol, and though it is mentioned in the Bible as sin this one is often overlooked, and that is gluttony. We live in a society which practically endorses these behaviors, yet they are clearly harmful to all those who practice them. The first three mentioned can and do destroy peoples homes; spouses, children, jobs; now someone please tell me I am being legalistic because of my concern for the destruction of homes and families. It is sin to destroy your home, because of your participation in these acts; thus I have no problem calling them sin. Does the fact of Jesus fulfilling the law mean that the law is disabled?
Jesus says, “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Are we saved by the obedience to the law? Paul the apostle wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV). The law has been fulfilled, thus it lives in our changed hearts and lives. Our desire is no longer to follow the passions of lust, ie., the lusts and passions of the sinful world. We are free to follow the passions of Jesus. Jesus’s passion was to die for our sins. He calls His followers to “Take up your cross, and follow Me”. When He took up His cross it led to His death. Our cross leads to our death to sin; not to bask or relish in sins supposed, and short lived pleasures.
The words of Jesus in finishing this on the law are these; “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” v. 20 (NKJV). I have previously written of Matthew 23:3 where Jesus tells his listeners to do what they teach, but do not follow their works. These religious leaders were hypocrites. A hypocrite is an individual who pretends to be what they are not. There are far too many of these in churches today, because the local congregations have grown lax in thier discipleship, teaching and training, doctrine, and law of God, and the prophets. We applaud the works of people rather than the work of Christ. We fail to correct false teaching, and allow it to grow into a cancerous, disgusting, putrid, stink. We have failed to see the nation of Israel as our example; especially for the individual Christian. Every action of the nation of Israel and their departure from God can happen to the individual Christian. Just as God has chastised the Nation, and continues to do so; He also will discipline the individual who runs astray from God, His Word, His law, and the prophets; and away from God’s will.
The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was a self-earned righteousness. Their self-righteousness was a stench in the nasal passages of God (See Isaiah 64:6). They only supposed they had reached the level of the righteous God, but actually had failed, and prided themselves in their greatness. That shows you and I the truth of what the apostle Paul said to the church of Ephesus, “…Not of works, lest anyone should boast”. The only righteousness which exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees is the righteousness which God ascribes to us; and that is the Righteousness of Jesus Christ, which we receive when we have by faith been transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Without His righteousness there is no entering the kingdom of heaven.
Allegiance to Jesus Christ should be our only allegiance with eternal gain, and realize that our allegiance to our Nation is for the purpose of ascribing the worth of Jesus Christ in all that we do. The only license we have from God is by faith through Christ to live for Him, to glorify Him, to show forth the name of Jesus in all our work, and play. The life of the Christian is not “License” to sin, but license to live for Christ. As Christians we are to promote and encourage a life of holiness, righteousness, justice, and walk humbly with our Lord (See Micah 6:8); and as teachers and leaders of such; practice these things ourselves. Not to earn salvation, but because of salvation. Let me reemphasize that legalism is requiring more for salvation than grace. It is not legalism to expect, to teach, and require holiness in the people who follow Jesus. Much of the charges of legalism that is being thrown around today is only further license to sin in the name of “Freedom” or “Liberty” in the name of Christ. We are called to call harmful acts of behavior SIN. I say that any action which does not glorify Jesus Christ is an act of sin. I am in great need, and have received that grace which I need for life and living. How about you?
-by Tim A. Blankenship