by Carl Mullins

Webster defines illegal, "not lawful; against the law. Thus, one who is an illegal-ist is one who has no respect for law or authority!

Often times when showing the necessity of being under law to Christ (1 Cor. 9:21) or respecting authority (Matt. 21:23) we as members of the body of Christ are chided with the words "Phariseeism" or "Legalist." When the term "legalist" is properly defined (respect for law and authority), then yes, I am a legalist. Listen dear friend, Paul stated that he was "under law to Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 9:21), he called it the "law of faith" (Rom. 3:27), "the law of the Spirit of life" (Rom. 8:1); and finally, James called it "the perfect law, the law of liberty" (James 1:25).

Beloved, did you know that the Lord never condemned the Pharisees for keeping the law? As a matter of fact He condemned them for leaving undone weightier matters of the law. Listen to Jesus, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye tithe mint and anise and cummin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith; but these ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone. Ye blind guides, that strain out the gnat, and swallow the camel!" (Matt. 23:23-24).

Surely no one wants to be hypocritical in their service to God. They were not hypocrites because they "Strained the gnat" (tithe mint, anise, cummin) this was what the law demanded (Deut. 14:22) but their hypocrisy was exposed because they left undone more of what the law said, "Love, justice, etc." (Hosea 6:6; Mic. 6:7-8). As Luke records, "...These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone" (Lk. 11:42). No one wants to swallow a camel but neither do I want to swallow a gnat.

We’re all certainly mindful of what happens to us if we fail to respect the laws of the land and those who are in positions of authority (Rom. 13:1-7; note esp. V-4). If it be running a red light, stealing, murder, rape, etc., a stiff penalty often comes our way.

Well, what about the law of Christ? Listen to Jesus, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by Thy name, and by Thy name cast out demons, and by Thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt. 7;21). Iniquity, means "lawlessness." Everything they did was illegal. They had no law or authority for what they were doing. It all started not long after the church was established. "For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work...they received not the love of the truth...they should believe a lie" (2 Thess. 2:7-12).

Yes friend, "The law of liberty" will keep you free from the bondage and servitude of sin and it will keep you free from religious error. By what authority dost thou these things? Are you a "Legalist" or are you an "Illegal-ist?"