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The Idolatry of Legalism

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
October 18, 2020 12:01 am

The Idolatry of Legalism

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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October 18, 2020 12:01 am

The Pharisees believed that salvation came by separation from sinners. Jesus declared that in their pride, the Pharisees were separated from God. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his exposition of the gospel of Mark.

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Going up today on the Lord's day addition of Renewing Your Mind. The Pharisees ascend look at me how righteous I you won't see me eating bread without first washing my hands, these men put on a show but it was external and it didn't come from the heart. We look on outward appearances, God looks upon our hearts believe that salvation came from separation separate from the world and separate from those unclean Gentiles, so their traditions were based on the external don't touch the handle taste, but what is easier to wash her hands or to address a sinful attitude of the heart. That's the point of our study today is Dr. RC Sproul continues in sermon series.

In the Gospel of Mark, we read of the beginning of chapter 7. These words that the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to him, having come from Jerusalem.

It's about 90 miles from Jerusalem to Capernaum on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and this was quite an arduous journey for the officials from Jerusalem to make at this time in history, and so they must've been a highly motivated to make this journey in order to confront Jesus. But what was it about the disciples of Jesus that provoked such hostility and animosity towards Jesus by the authorities in Jerusalem while the answers given to us very plainly. They saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is on clean on washed hands. This is the reason Mark tells us that they found out we saw them Jesus we saw them out there breaking bread and eating it without first washing their hands with come 90 miles to lodge a protest about that now you may think when you read this text that what they were concerned about was hygiene and there's a lot you concerned about the health of your disciples that you're letting them eat food without properly practicing a perfect hygiene, no hygiene had nothing whatsoever to do with this complaint is being lodged against Jesus and his disciples what was in view here was ritual cleansing ritual defilement. The washing was a mere symbol. In fact, the amount of water that they would use to wash their hands were so slight that it wouldn't do very much to promote good hygiene, but rather they were to go through this action of washing their hands before they ate their bread to fulfill a ritual that had been set forth by the tradition of the elders is what happened. A kind of strange form of priesthood of all believers.

The Old Testament law did require that the priests of Israel wash their hands before they entered into the holy place, and offer sacrifices. There was no law in the Old Testament revealed law of God, that required the barrettes the people of the earth. The average person to be involved in ritual cleansing before they ate bread know you remember this is not the first time Jesus comes into dispute with the Pharisees over principles of ritual cleansing. They already had a dispute about those with whom Jesus was meeting for table fellowship. They had a dispute with how Jesus celebrated the Sabbath day they had a dispute with him because he touched the leper and because the field of the Pontiac, who roamed inside the territory of the tombs which were ceremonially unclean.

Not here to check to understand there are principles of ritual cleanliness set forth by God in the Old Testament, but they are few and they are easy to follow, but what the Pharisees and the scribes did over the centuries the rabbis who interpreted the law of God kept adding to those ritual requirements Adding one prohibition after another so that their regulations far exceeded the regulations that the law of God imposed upon the people.

This, my dear friends, is the worst form of legalism. There are many ways in which legalism raises its ugly head in the life of the people of God but to bind people's consciences were God has left them free to add human regulations to the law of God is the worst and most devastating form of legalism. So where did these laws come from in Israel among the Jewish people. They had what was called the Holocaust. The Holocaust included the oral tradition of the rabbis, all of the principles.

All of the regulations that the rabbis added to the law of God were passed on from generation to generation orally by what was called the oral tradition or the Holocaust knowingly remind you that in Matthew's gospel in the sermon on the mount where Jesus has a tremendous conflict with the Pharisees sometimes you read the sermon on the mount and you say, while Jesus seems to be setting himself against the law of God because of so you've heard it was said of days of old, and I for Anaya, tooth for tooth, and so on. And he said, but I say to you, love your enemies, your neighbor's magenta rights attorney and also what's going on there. Well, there are two phrases that we have to be familiar with. When we read the Bible idiomatic expressions that had a clear meaning to any Jew. One was this it is written whenever a Jew said it is written, he didn't mean simply that somebody had taken a stylus and wrote down some words on papyrus are on some kind of manuscript or in some kind of a book. The phrase, it is written, was shorthanded to the pious Jew to say the Bible says the writing that was in view.

With that phrase. It is written was the sacred writings of the Scripture.

Now, in clear distinction from the written scriptures were the oral traditions that were passed down that were added to the written scriptures and so in the sermon on the mount. When Jesus said you've heard it said in days of old. That hearing it said has specific reference.

What not to the Bible, not to the inscribed law of God, but the what was said orally by the rabbis and you will never ever in the New Testament find the Lord Jesus Christ criticizing or disobeying the written law of God, but it seems like every day everywhere he went he was violating the oral tradition the Mishnah that was finally compiled in the third century A.D. and comprise the bulk of the Jewish town mood at that time 25% of the Mishnah writings of the Jews was devoted strictly to ritual cleanliness and purity. You see the Pharisees believe that salvation came from ethnic separation that they were to be saved by how clean they kept themselves by any contamination from unbelievers or from sinners, and so they had all of these rights that they imposed. One commentator calls their practice regulation madness. What happens when you have regulation madness is of people who have the disposition of wanting to control everybody else's lives around them begins to chip away at their freedoms and accumulate power for themselves. There's nothing new about this. This happens in every society in every culture in the history of the world and the Pharisees did it with a vengeance. They had different levels of prescribed rituals of cleanliness the first grade cleanliness involve such things as washing the hands before eating your bread that this I said was a washing with a small amount of water that could be held in your second level purification was much more serious and Mark makes mention of it. How that if they came back from the Agoura from the marketplace. Then they had to be ritually cleansed by immersion. I read that and I think of applying it to our lives today and I think if my wife had to be immersed every time she went to the mall. She would spend half her life in the shower, but why was that because when you are in the marketplace you were dealing with Gentiles and you are becoming contaminated. So now you had to take a full bath. When you were done with that.

So now it says the Pharisees and all the Jews did not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way holding the tradition of the elders when they came for the marketplace literati unless they washing their many other things which they have received them hold like the washing of cups pictures copper vessels and couches in the Pharisees and scribes asked him why dear disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders. Basically what Jesus is saying here is because the tradition of the elders is not the law of God. It's a human tradition and as a human tradition. It has substituted the laws of men for the law of God, to see what happens. Here's the irony. Every time we add to the law of God. 11. It is inevitably a subtraction because instead of putting our attention on those things that God is concerned about to regulate our behavior within Lucite of what concerns God and we begin to major in minors.

We begin to give our devotion to our own traditions to our own human regulations. You seen it in the Christian community you seen at work. Christian piety is defined by whether people wear lipstick whether they dance whether they go to movies as if these things had anything to do with the kingdom of God. But not only in some Christian environments are they elevated to regulations and law they become the tests of real piety and in one sense when that happens, authentic righteousness is not simply obscured its discounted which is easier to refrain from lipstick or to refrain from pride the start going to movies or to start loving your enemies.

I have all I can do to try to seek the righteousness that God's law shows us to do without worrying about petty issues and that's what happens the Pharisees began to major in minors. The Pharisees turned the supreme law of God into petty regulations which obscured the majesty of the law of God, beloved, I have no right or authority to bind your conscience.

Anybody's conscience in this room, absolutely. But God has the power and the authority to bind your conscience absolutely. You may not like the traditions that I like not to be judged for that. But there is an apostolic tradition, there is the tradition that comes to the church that is passed down from God himself, and that's where our focus is to be and don't let anybody or anything diverge or focus away from that to something of human invention because that's exactly what happened here with this thing you know, no person in the history of this planet ever came close to obeying the law of God like Jesus. Only Jesus would dare to say to his contemporaries. Which of you convict me of sin. Show me where I've ever broken the law of God his meat and his drink was to do the will of his father as the new Adam. It was his obligation to keep every jot and tittle of the law of God, where he could care less about these human conventions when he saw a person suffering with leprosy. He touched when he saw man in chains, screaming and yelling in the graveyard. He went into that place and loose those chains when he saw man who couldn't walk on the Sabbath day he yield the money sit on the Lord of the Sabbath. Don't tell me what my disciples can do and what they can't do because he himself is not just the law but here, but touching his divine nature. He is the law ever. When God walked amidst human beings, human beings were critical of perfect behavior.

Ladies and gentlemen, what's so bad about legalism is that it is a subtle form of idolatry.

Because we begin to elevate what is human above what is divine and we substitute the human traditions the human policies the human regulations for the very word of God. Whenever you serve the creature rather than the creator you are involved in idolatry. These scribes and Pharisees that they were the most righteous people in the face of the earth.

There were idolaters and so Jesus speaks to them in this vein, well that Isaiah prophesy of you, you hypocrites.

Isaiah was talking about you. You will find who you are, the new look at yourself, not according to your traditions but look at yourself, measure yourself according to the perfect law of God, look at the word of God, look at what Isaiah said he's describing you when he says this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, Jesus, quoting Isaiah calls attention to two parts of the human body… And the heart… On the surface the heart. You excuse the pun is that the very core of our being.

Jesus said your miles are going your singing praises. You say your prayers.

You say that you love God but is no deeper than your lips. It never penetrates the very center of your being, and my father wants people to worship him in spirit and in truth, not just with their lips because lipservice is the very essence of playacting the Pharisees ascend look at me how righteous I you won't see me eating bread with that first washing my hands, these men put on a show but it was external and it didn't come from the heart. We look on outward appearances, God looks upon our hearts, and this is something that we have to ask ourselves in the presence of God all the time.

Oh God, cleanse me in my inward parts of God. What does my heart look like to you what you think. Your heart looks like the God he hears what you say was called upon to speak at the pre-Gen. assembly conference on the Westminster confession of faith in the basic thrust of my message was that the doctrine of God defines and controls every other doctrine in the Christian faith. I said in the final analysis when I was all done with showing the many ways in which the doctrine of God affects our theology and affects our lives. I came down to this is if you really want to know what you're doctrine of God is look at your worship because more than what you confess with your lips is how you worship because if you worship the God of the Bible you will never worship him in a cavalier manner.

Worship for you will never be an exercise in entertainment. It's impossible not when you walk through those doors knew Sam coming in the presence of the God of the universe who is searching for people to worship him in spirit and in truth.

If that's how you understand God when you know that all worship will have an element of gravitas of gravity of holiness of reverence of adoration in the fun and games and in the parking people honors me with their lips, their heart is far from me in the next verse he says is what and in vain do they worship me with is a mean in vain means there worship is futile.

It's useless because it doesn't come from the heart because they pay more attention to human regulations and human traditions than they do to my law that don't care about my glory and care about my house. They don't care about my kingdom.

They care about their status in the community and when they coming to my house to be seen of men.

Nothing could be more useless and more futile than that they teach as doctrines the commandments of men.

The washing of pictures and cups and many other such things that you do. Jesus said get rid of that stuff its clatter, that simply hides the beauty of authentic holiness. Beloved. This is not something that it was temptation simply for the Pharisees. We have to deal with it every day in the Christian life. That's why when we have people send you to do this now to do that. Not not do this.

Not not that taste not touched not handle not all that stuff take the word of God was search the Scripture and say, oh God, I want to please you, not according to the traditions of men, but according to your another reminder of how important it is for us to know God's word. How can we please him. If we don't know what he requires of us. That's why we returned to God's word every day around Renewing Your Mind and on the Lord's day addition each week. Our study is from Mark's gospel mercy preached 62 sermons in the series going in depth into every passage a resource offer today is a great study companion to the series is Dr. Sproles commentary on the Gospel of Mark requested today. When you give a donation of any amount to look at your ministries. This is an online offer only. So go to Renewing Your Mind.Ward monthly magazine table talk is another resource to help you grow in the knowledge of God. There are daily studies that provide structure to your Bible reading.

You'll also find articles from trusted teachers on a variety of topics related to theology and the Christian life just go to table talk we heard today that the Pharisees had created hundreds of laws to keep a person clean on the outside next week. Dr. Sproles show is even more profoundly, how defilement comes from within. I hope you'll join us for Renewing Your Mind

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