The New Testament problem created by Pharisees and the so-called “Judaizers” was fiercely attacked in the Scriptures. Their teachings were anti-Christian and contrary to God’s grace.

The Scriptures address people and groups who believed that righteousness could be achieved through works. They tithed down to the mint and cumin (Mt. 23:23) but did not observe the weightier matters of the Law. They nullified God’s commands concerning honoring your mom and dad by substituting their own traditions. Jesus said, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Mt. 15:3). Along with things such as these, they believed that being a faithful Christian included being circumcised, keeping the Mosaic Law dietary rules, and observing various holy days and sabbaths.

To the Christians who had fallen under the spell of the Judaizers, Paul wrote, “9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years” (Gal. 4:9,10). Concerning circumcision, he said, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6).

The consequence of the teaching of the Judaizers was to separate the believers from God’s saving grace. These Pharisees and “Judaizers” were disturbing many of the Christians. Paul warned that they were being bound again to a “yoke of slavery” and, if they did not repent, would be “severed from Christ”. Paul said this was because they were “seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).

Today’s church must be warned about these dangers so it does not fall away from God. As in the first century churches, the unrepentant “Judaizers” today will lose their salvation.

A key element of Pharisaism is the problem of placing faith in something or someone other than God and His Word. This is not the faithful Christians who are trying to do God’s will and teach God’s will. Obedience to God and more specifically to His Word is never a problem in the Scriptures.

Since the problem of “pharisaism” or “judiaizing” is the turning away from God’s Word – and it is as Jesus and Paul’s words demonstrate – it is found in churches that do not adhere to the Word of God. Teaching on immersion for remission of sins, singing only in the church, women not teaching men, is not the problem.

What is at the root of the problem? First, is the question of where we are placing our faith? If a person teaches or believe that his own works make men right, it is the problem found in the Bible.

Second, this problem arises in another way when people turn from God’s law and begin pushing or forcing their opinions on the congregation. Jesus said, “And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” (Mt. 15:6). Examples include doctrines of Transubstantiation. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer”. As the Pharisees did, some today add to God’s Word. And as in the Bible times, some today trust more in their own works than in God’s saving grace. This is what I mean by avoiding the extremes of legalism. Trust in God’s saving grace is found between the two. God saves those who believe and obey Him and His Word.

Avoid denominations and find a first century church of Christ, Rom. 16:16.

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Categories: Legalism, Pharisaism

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