It is not uncommon, when sharing the Father’s traditions with christians, to be accused of being legalistic. Hmmmm . . . sounds like a pretty damning label, and certainly something we should all avoid being; but, what is it, exactly?
I have found over the years since the Holy Spirit led us out of christianity, and illuminated our hearts and minds to understand His truths, that the accusation of “legalism” made by christians is similar to liberals calling conservatives “racist.” It typically ends up being that “legalism” is any spiritual truth that someone doesn’t want to hear, or cannot refute.
So, where the Father’s ordained prophetic Sabbaths are concerned, since christianity rejected them when it was invented, most christians don’t understand them; thus, those who honor the Sabbaths, and who teach them as the doctrinal truths they are, often get accused of legalism (mostly out of spiritual ignorance).
When discussing the fact that the name “jesus” never belonged to Messiah, and that His actual name, Yahoshua, is the “no other name” referred to in Acts 4:12, and “believing on His name” literally means to believe the name’s meaning (“jesus” has no literal meaning, but Yahoshua means “Yah’s salvation”), many christians will accuse the believer of being legalistic about a name, implying that Messiah’s name is whatever a culture decides it wants His name to be.
But, are the Father’s traditions, and both His name (Yah) and His Son’s name (Yahoshua) actually legalism? Well, they can be used that way, but they are not legalistic in and of themselves.
Legalism is the teaching of man’s traditions as doctrine, equal to, or superseding, true doctrines. It is what the Pharisees were guilty of. They had devised many rules and regulations to assure that the Jews were living according to the Torah (the law of Moses, which was given to the physical Jews who possessed the physical covenant—the ten commandments).
Over time, the religious leaders became most rigid about their own rules being followed by the masses, judging and punishing those who broke their rules (even though they broke them themselves).
Messiah Yahoshua rebuked the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 15:6-9, saying “. . . and by this you invalidated the word of Yah for the sake of YOUR TRADITION. You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.’”
THAT is what legalism is—teaching that man’s rules regarding practical spiritual living are equal to, or more important than, the actual things of Yah. So, now that we know WHAT it is, who is it that is actually guilty of legalism?
Yah gives His Sabbaths as a sign forever between Him and His people. Christianity rejects that, and states, rather, that the weekly Sabbath (seventh day) is to be replaced by the venerable day of the sun (first day) as the day of rest and holy convocation (Leviticus 23:3).
Christianity teaches that the feasts were “nailed to the cross” (as scripturally absurd as that is), and that pagan traditions (christ-mass, easter/ishtar, good Friday, lent, etc.) are to replace Yah’s ordained days.
What is taught is that man’s traditions have replaced the Father’s traditions. It is teaching the traditions of men above the traditions of Yah. Thus, the christian holyday calendar is indeed “legalism.”
The true path to salvation was painstakingly detailed for us in the OT scriptures as a foreshadow of what would be revealed by the completion of Messiah’s redemptive work. The Passover journey by the Israelites is a physical picture of the spiritual path to salvation (being called out of Egypt by the blood of the Passover lamb to journey through the wilderness to the mountain, and then receive the covenant).
That journey was then mirrored in the way of the tabernacle—the priestly progression from the Outer Courtyard (Egypt), through the Holy Place (wilderness), to the Holy of Holies (covenant). And, we are told repeatedly throughout the scriptures that those who believe (Egypt, Outer Courtyard), and endure in their belief (wilderness, Holy Place), SHALL BE (future) saved (covenant, Holy of Holies).
But, alas, christianity rejected the Passover by falsely declaring that Yah’s feasts were ended at the cross (which is heresy); thus, the true path to salvation was obscured, as the emphasis was then placed upon paganism and humanism (the false “good friday” and easter nonsense, and also that salvation is a decision that man makes).
Believe in Messiah Yahoshua, confess Him before men (which is to endure in belief—the trying of one’s faith), and then await the giving of the covenant, which is salvation. It is what we are told in Hebrews 10:39, that salvation comes to those who do not shrink back after they have believed, but who endure in their belief all the way to the saving of their souls.
So, teaching that man’s pagan holydays now supersede Yah’s ordained days is legalism. Teaching that those who honor Yah’s traditions are somehow “false teachers” or “Judaizers,” simply because of christianity’s traditions replacing the true days of Yah, is legalism—nullifying the true things of Yah by the rules and traditions of men.
And, teaching that, to be saved, all one must do is make a decision or pray a prayer, is legalism, for it is prescribing man’s false path to salvation in place of Yah’s true path to salvation.
To become a “member” of most “churches,” one must have made a decision to “be saved,” and then must get dunked in water in front of others (water baptism was a foreshadow under the law—the real substance is baptism by the Holy Spirit), and then pledge some form of loyalty to that “church.” Those are rules of men that are actually found nowhere in scripture.
Those who vehemently fight to try to prove the false tenets of christianity, and dismiss the true things of Yah, are guilty of legalism—nullifying the truths of the Holy Spirit with the rules and traditions of men. Thus, it is christianity that is similar to Phariseeism. Teaching the actual truths of the Holy Spirit can NEVER be legalism. One cannot honor the Father too much, nor identify with Him too much by honoring the things He designed and ordained.
Regarding the above statement that the Father’s traditions CAN BE used as a form of legalism, the Hebrew Roots cult does just that. They teach the traditions as law, demanding that they are a means to righteousness, which is a lie. Righteousness comes by belief, but holiness (sanctification) comes by denying one’s flesh, and by honoring the things Yah desires His children to honor.
To judge others in what they eat, or what they drink, or HOW they choose to honor Yah’s Sabbaths is also legalism, and that is why Paul said we are not to do that. But note, Paul did NOT say we are not to eat, we are not to drink, or we are not to observe Yah’s Sabbaths.
However, in the scheme of things, the Hebrew Roots cult is nothing but an annoying gnat that buzzes around christianity, as there are currently some 2.2 BILLION christians on the planet. In the prophetic texts, christianity is called “Babylon” and “the falling away,” as it was invented as a counterfeit of the true faith, and codified in the 4th century.
To teach the Father’s traditions as law misses the whole point of them. They are family signs—choices to identify with the Father and His people—and, they are given only to those who ARE His children (those who are led by the Holy Spirit). They are not a means to being saved, nor does anyone who is saved have to do anything to stay saved. One who has received the covenant is a child of Yah eternally.
For more information: What Are the Old and New Covenants?