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When Others Don't Understand

During Bible study, our family discovered something that we had heard very little about from church. We found out God had set apart special days to worship and honor Him. By learning about the practices of these special days, we could learn about and worship God.

We spent some time studying the holidays from Scripture and decided it’d be fun to teach to our children. So our family started celebrating the Biblical Feast days. What a joy! These celebrations are wonderful! Not only was the celebration itself fun and informative, but even the preparation was full of lessons and prompted us into deeper Bible study.

The children enjoyed these great interactive celebrations more than any man-made holidays (more than even gift-giving days). I was very excited about all we had learned and anxious to tell my Christian friends.

My enthusiasm was soon crushed. I was eagerly sharing with a friend how we celebrated a feast day and how much we had learned. I expected my friend to catch the enthusiasm. Instead I was met with a fierce frown and raised eyebrows. I was told the feast days have been done away with, are no longer necessary, and such nonsense was legalistic. but, but, we didn’t do anything wrong…its just…it can’t be wrong! we were just studying the Bible….. I stammered. My friend explained, “You cannot keep the holidays. It’s legalistic!”

Celebrating the feasts was only a surface learning experience? Down deep, was I trying to earn my way to heaven? Whoa, I know salvation only comes through God’s Son. This conversation led to many questions. What is legalism? Is the Old Testament relevant today? How can obeying Deuteronomy 6 teaching our children God’s ways be legalistic? How can righteousness be wrong? Time for another Bible study.

Legalism or Desiring to Please God?

Legalism is when a person does works stemming from prideful self-sufficiency that ignores trust and regards performing good deeds as doing God a favor. It is when one gets so involved in seeking to fulfill every minor detail of God’s law or man-made laws that the heart of God is missed. If someone is under a yoke of legalism he is probably trying to meet some fence laws (extra rules tacked on to God’s ways) prescribed by men. The yoke of legalism is unbearable. This earned righteousness mentality is a nasty pride. The end result of legalism is a proud confidence in one’s own righteousness and missing God’s will.

A sample of legalism is in Acts 15:5. The Pharisees laid down the position that unless the Gentiles who turned Christians were circumcised after the manner of Moses, and thereby bound themselves to all the observances of the ceremonial law, they could not be saved. This is foolish, as if being circumcised could earn salvation. Jesus spoke firmly against legalism (see Matthew 23:2-4, Mark 7:5- 13).

So what is the difference between trying to please God and legalism? A measuring stick that only measures the end result will identify anything pleasing to God as legalism. As with most things Jesus taught about, the difference between doing something to please God, and legalism, is found in the heart.

  • To have faith in Christ’s saving grace one must have the knowledge that we are completely unrighteous without the atonement of Jesus, unworthy of receiving the gift of life Christ laid down for us. Responding to God in worship and obedience to His Word is evidence of our gratefulness for His gift to us.
  • Legalism is focused on a system.
  • Desiring to please God is focused on a relationship.
  • Legalism is focused on what is required.
  • Desiring to please God is focused on love from within.
  • Legalism asks How can I meet the requirements?ΓΏ
  • Desiring to please God asks, “What is the Lord telling me about His desires through His instruction?”
  • Legalism is horrid, for if it were possible to earn a relationship with God, in and of ourselves, Christ’s death was pointless.
  • Desiring to please God is obeying His commands to love Him with all out hearts, minds, and souls. Loving God can never be legalistic!

A Fruit Test

Celebrating the holidays can become legalistic. So can going to church, wearing certain clothing, helping the poor, etc. Anything to earn righteousness or done for the outward appearances is legalism. Celebrating the feast days can become legalistic if your heart is not right. If you feel you have to do the holidays and you’re in a frenzy trying to make everything just perfect, your house is a shambles, children crying, and everyone in a foul mood, you are defeating the point. Time to check your motives. The woman who decided to wear a head covering to show she was submissive who wore it against her husband’s wishes was not right in her heart. Are you are being controlled by legalism or a desire to please God? It is easy to find out if something is legalistic examine the fruit produced. If it is from God the fruit will be patience, joy, peace, love, kindness, gentleness and self-control. The fruit of legalism is easily recognized arguments, selfish ambition, unreasonable behavior, deceitfulness, and envy.

Under Law of Grace?

The Jewish New Testament Commentary explains, the word under, in Greek upo, means “controlled by or in subjection to.” If one is under legalism he is controlled by legalism. Being under grace is a subjection which, because of the nature of grace itself, does not have the usual oppressive characteristics of subjection. God’s people, the people who are in a trust relationship with him, are and always have been under grace and under Torah (a gracious subjection) but never under legalism (a harsh subjection).

We are not in bondage, we are free, free in Christ–free enough to enjoy a cycle of annual celebrations that reminds us that God has done a wonderful work of redemption for us through Christ. Celebrating the biblical holidays is a privileged set apart time of Bible study or family devotions. Do you have to have Bible study or family devotions? No, but will you learn more about God, His ways and His paths if you do?

We can celebrate the Biblical holidays if we do it to learn about God or to worship God. If we celebrate the holidays to earn righteousness there is no reason to observe them. By celebrating the biblical holidays I am no better than my friend who chooses not to observe these days. Both of our righteousness is as filthy rags. We are only saved by Christ.

The purpose of my book is not to tell you whether or not you should celebrate the biblical holidays. The purpose of the book is help you make a special memory with your children, to give you options of different ways to have a fun celebration while teaching you God’s Word.

If you think these articles were interesting you haven’t seen anything yet! Wouldn’t you like to have all this information fully illustrated at your fingertips in one volume? All of the REALLY GOOD stuff is in the book

Comments (15)

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  1. When Others Don't Understand : Biblical Holidays http://tinyurl.com/yhe3zl2

  2. Luana says:

    Thanks so much for the explanation about legalism vs grace. For many years in my childhood years, we celebrated these days with a church that taught we were sinning if we did not do so! It put us under condemnation and I ended the celebration of those days over a decade ago because of the legalistic teaching attached to it. I am now finding a freedom and desire to do so again out of love for my Savior and a desire to have these festivals as part of my life and home. I look forward to purchasing your book soon and teaching my children.

  3. yummmmy……. thanks to your hints , i’d adore to stick to your weblog as generally as i can.use a good day~~

  4. vincee says:

    This is a great article. But it is not required after Christ’s death and resurrection. All those cremonial laws were showing or pointing to Jesus. Though Jesus did increased the moral laws for sure. God gave those laws only to Israelites (who needed to remind them and their generations how God brought them out) and I don’t think He would require for gentiles to do these ceremonial laws. Ofcourse if they wanted to then they can.

  5. We absolutely love keeps the feasts specifically Passover there is not great experience then to get together we believers and dear loved ones and celebrate what wonder gift God has given us… As Abraham said indeed he has provided a Lamb!

  6. Christian says:

    Just remember in the Millennium, the Feast will be kept. This is when Christ will be ruling as king–so these days, while not required for salvation, will be kept as rememberances of God’s plan.

    And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles
    Zech 14:16 (NKJV)

  7. Jennifer Crouch says:

    It was a rude awakening to realize as a Christian who LOVES God, that I was keeping all the pagan festivals and none of Gods Holy Days. That is about to change! I look forward to reading this book!

    I can only imagine if my husband refused to celebrate my birthday anywhere near the correct date, but instead decided to celebrate it on his ex-wifes birthday. I think that would be very disrespectful. God speaks a lot about spiritual harlotry, so as the bride of Christ this is a very appropriate analogy. Guess who’s bday December 25th is? Zeus! The pagans kept all their festivals and when they had to convert to Christianity as the official religion of the Roman empire…they jsut substituted out gods/Gods. Sad but true. So every single holiday in our culture has pagan roots. I learned this in a college course called the origins of religion, NOT IN CHURCH. I was considerable not happy about that…and after years of it doesn’t matter..God sees your heart..I kinda decided felt like I was not being repsectful of God and that was the heart of the issue. So do your own research, make up your own mind, ect…but it is noteworthy at least.

  8. Tracey says:

    We have just come to learn this for ourselves and are very excited to be able to celebrate the Feasts of the LORD. And what a celebration they are! Our children eagerly look forward to each of them. They give incredible opportunities to teach our children spiritual truths. For example, the Feast of Unleavened Bread…where as a family we get to clean out our home of all leaven. This is a practical way our children can learn to keep their lives free from leaven, which is likened to sin in the Word. The spiritual lessons that can be taught during these Feasts will be ingrained in our children’s minds, as they practically learn God’s Truths.

  9. Gary Coon says:

    This is great stuff! Since I became a follower of Jesus I have wondered if He was born on a biblical holiday. I’m pretty sure He wasn’t born on a pagan holiday. Do you have any information on this? Thanks, Gary

  10. SuperSkinJen says:

    If we really want to please God, as our Father, then we should all strive to be obedient children…just as we are much more pleased parents when our own children obey us. He wrote the manual, we need to live by it regardless of what others think.

    Abraham was righteous because he was obedient; he was willing to do whatever God said even if it didn’t make sense. He never said, “I don’t think I need to do that because…” or “God will accept me without having to prove my faith.” Nope. God gave Abraham’s children many laws to help them maintain civility and preserve peace, as well as mandating annual festivals for celebrating Him and His divine plan. Yes, the sacrificial & ceremonial laws are no longer in effect because the covenant was broken and replaced…however, the Sabbath and Holy Days were given apart from the old covenant. The apostles all kept them, as Jesus commanded. Saying the Holy Days are “optional” for Christians is like saying baptism is optional.

  11. abbey1990 says:

    Hi, thank you for the informative post, this could really help people to understand biblical holiday and the word’s of God.

  12. Rachelle says:

    I am LOVING learning about “hebrew christianity!” I am in the process of learning to make challah to start celebrating Shabbats! I understand the love and joy found in these feasts and the freedom we have to celebrate them (or not!) in light of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. I think however, when you phrase it as: Legalism or Pleasing God? is where the wording gets you in trouble. God is already pleased. He looks upon me and sees Christ. I am wearing a white robe of righteousness. So using that wording can be a bit tricky, I know what you mean, but others WILL take it the wrong way/ “What!? I’m NOT PLEASING God by not doing these feats with my family?!” Perhaps rather Legalism or Glorifying God? Celebrating God? Rejoicing in God? Proclaiming Christ? etc. Because the whole thing about the feasts was to keep them in the O.T. to make sure you stay in God’s good graces by our keeping the Law… Now you are CELEBRATING the Messiah!

  13. AnnaCing says:

    Thanks!!!!! I have clearance to see distint between legalism Vs Grace ….

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