Some Christians are concerned about “legalism,” a word used to
describe the following of rules and rituals of a religious nature.
They cite the Law of the Hebrew Bible (New Testament) as no longer
being relevant, since the arrival of Jesus; but they fail to
understand the concept of the Law and its fulfillment. They interpret
the Apostle Paul’s statements as proof that Jesus abolished the Law.
We have to realize that the entire Hebrew Law was written as a result
of the Fall. If Adam and Eve had, and we today, truly put God first in
our lives and unconditionally love Him and the whole of His creation,
there is no need for the Law; because perfect love fulfills every aspect
that the Law was written to cover.
Indeed, being “legalistic” – performing rituals without spiritual
understanding or heart change – does not result in salvation. Salvation
is a change of heart that results in permanent positive spiritual
transformation and growth. It entails true repentance of past sins and
determination, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to “sin no more.” (John
Concerning the Law, here are some Bible passages –
The Apostle Paul says (1 Corinthians 6:12):
12 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.
All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
Perfect love does fulfill the Law, but because we are not perfect, it
does not profit us to eliminate those aspects of the Law that are there
to prevent us from sinning.
Unfortunately, the way Christianity is being practiced, it is taking
something simple and making it complicated.
Concerning the Law of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), in Matthew
5:17-20, Jesus says:
17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I
did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.
18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not
the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all
19 “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and
so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but
whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the
kingdom of heaven.
20 “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of
In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus explains that loving God and your neighbor
fulfills the Law:
34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had put the Sadducees to
silence, they gathered themselves together.
35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him,
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
37 And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all
your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38 “This is the great and foremost commandment.
39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as
40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the
(Note: The scriptures quoted above are from the New American Standard