Restored Legalism – The Danger of Messianic Christianity

There is a legalistic wind blowing among many circles within the Christian faith. That wind is the attempt by natural minded men to restore or mix the Christian faith with Old Testament Law — usually called Messianic Christianity. It produces bondage to carnal ordinances and perverts the grace of God. It demotes Jesus Christ from Lord to a Rabbi and keeper of the law, and ultimately attacks the liberating message He announced during His earthly ministry. Those whose embrace and attempt to bring the Torah (Mosaic Law) into the Gospel of Jesus, are actually abandoning the message of Jesus and the Apostles in order to make disciples of men instead of disciples of Christ.

Here are some ‘catch words’ and ‘actions’ which should alert us. If you are around a friend or person who frequently adopts these words/phrases or actions, be careful…they are usually entrapped by false teachers and are enslaved by their own lack of understanding of the Scriptures. Beware if you hear or see these:

  • Enamored with everything Jewish (symbols, shofar, prayer shawls, etc.)
  • Continually trying to ‘Hebrew-ize’ everything about Jesus’ message
  • Always referring to Jesus as Yeshua or Mashiach
  • Constantly referring to God as Yahweh or Adonai
  • Using Jewish letters or names for their personal identity
  • Always pointing to the Law and it’s ordinances
  • Demand or prefer Sabbath (Saturday) gatherings
  • Exalt non-canonical books
  • Obsessed with Jewish greetings and salutations
  • Obsessed with Jewish music
  • Sees the ‘Mark of the Beast’ in everything
  • A constant diatribe against ‘organized religion’ or the ‘ institutional church’

The sad part is that some young believers are being sucked into this restored legalism. Those who have genuinely received the new birth in Jesus will respond to the light of the truth of the gospel and leave this dangerous perversion of salvation. The only way for a person to embrace this messianic perversion of the gospel is through ignorance of the New Testament teaching; particularly Paul’s letters to the Romans and the Galatians.

Let us learn and enjoy the Jewish context and background of God’s Word and revelation to man. Let us study and appreciate all the cultural expressions and timeless truths we learn from the writers of the Old Testament. Jesus, our Messiah was Jewish, fulfilled the Law perfectly, and as God’s Only Begotten Son, delivered us from the bondage of the law. We can only properly understand the fall of man, the covenants of God and the promise of a Redeemer through sound biblical hermeneutics. Understanding the Temple, the sacrifices, the Feasts of Israel and the biblical trials of the nation of Israel brings out many timeless applications from God to man. However, let us equally understand that we live under and have a New Covenant, based on better promises offered to us by grace through faith alone!

We should Love those entrapped in this messianic legalism and attempt to reach them, however, beware of this…they are walking in legalism, not grace! I’ve seen men delivered from this delusion, and that is a beautiful thing indeed! May the truth of Scripture always be our standard.

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Rom.10:4)

“But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” (Rom.11:6)

“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” (Gal.2:21)

“You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” (Gal.5:4)

About Terry Ivy

Husband, Father, Church Planter, Pastor, Founder of PROJECT INDIA. Supporting and encouraging Pastors, training leaders and planting churches...
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10 Responses to Restored Legalism – The Danger of Messianic Christianity

  1. Marietta B. Baris says:

    Amen and I agree with this position. I thank God for the opportunity to read this website. I am a christian who observe and research the teaching of Messianic. Our church is in depress area which we need so much knowledge of what is happening and I want to be more informed. We are looking forward to the coming King Jesus the Messiah!

  2. TaylorMorse says:

    You do understand that Messianic Christianity by definition is Christian. Not to say that all are just as in the church they are not. Christian Jews are still held to Mosaic Law for Yeshua is quoted in Romans 5:17 “do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill”. Be carefull not to paint with a broad brush until you have visited a Messianic Synagoge and understand their mission ( To be a conregational home for both Jewish and Gentile believers in Messiah Yeshua who are called into covanant community with one another, seeking to proclaim the Good Nwes of the Kingdom of Heaven locally, in Israel and to the nations, within the framework of Messianic Judaism).

    • Terry Ivy says:

      Taylor, actually the verse is in Matt. 5:17. It is a great verse. Jesus fulfilled the law!!! And He is the “end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Rom.10:4) The end of the law for Jew and Gentile. Only those who are ignorant of God’s gift of righteousness seek to restore the practice of the law. (Rom. 10:2-4) Men can make their boast of ‘keeping the law,’ only because they have failed to submit to the Christ for righteousness. Paul’s writings in Romans and Galatians makes it pretty clear…the legalistic attempt to force believers to ‘keep the law’ is another gospel. If salvation is of Grace, it is no longer of works. If it is of works, then it is no longer of Grace. (Rom.11:6) The law and grace are two mutually exclusive facts.

      Now, having said all of that, a Jew may keep the law as a cultural observance…but not as a declaration or proof of righteousness. In this sense, Messianic Christianity has its place as an attempt to reach Jewish people. However, nothing is as Grace destroying or a perversion of the Gospel as the attempt to teach Gentiles the necessity to keep the ordinances of Judaism. That is the strait facts and there is no way around it. My thrust in this article was the unbiblical and legalistic attempt to deceive unlearned Gentiles to observe the synagogue observances of Judaism. Because of that, I stand, and I stand strongly by my post.

      Thanks for your input, but these issues were settled by the Apostles of Jesus Christ in the 1st Century. I stand with them.

      • TaylorMorse says:

        I apologize if I misunderstood your article. I was not implying that legalism is good, right or to be practiced. Maybe there is a difference between a ‘Messianic Christian movement’ and Messianic Judaism. I, a life long Baptist, have be given a heart for the Jewish nation and its people after reading Romans 11:11-24 which states clearly that “salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them (Jews) jealous.” I was offended that you would warn people about using the word ‘Yeshua’ and ‘Adoni’ when this is the verbiage Christ used. I feel we as Christians have a duty to minister to the Jews just as we do to all other nations and people. Some Jews don’t understand the need for evangelism from Christians because they think we are on the same path, you and I know how wrong that is! Using Hebrew words is a wonderful way to connect with them a show we also have a deep love of scriptures, Old and New Testaments alike. To witness to the Jews using Old Testament only is easy. The foreshadowing of Christ is all threw their Tanakh we just need to help them to see it. I pray you understand my heart in this matter.

  3. Aaron Gann says:

    Shalom, I`m unsure how old this article is, but i wanted to say amen, amen and amen. I am a messianic Gentile and I agree with all your points. Now i do say Yeshua rather than Jesus. Not that saying Jesus is wrong or evil, people who say so are generally ridiculous and have half baked theology, rather because it means salvation is what His mother named Him. I do celebrate Passover, First fruits etc. And yes lol, i do blow a shofar. However this is not out of some covenental requirement, rather it is an expression of worship and the Jewishness of scripture. The main point I wanted to bring out is that not all Messianics are legalists, to many it is an expression of worship and a way of identifying with the Jewish Messiah who died for the sins of all the nations. Thank you for posting good articles such as these for truly legalism has been trying to take Messianic theology by storm. Be blessed my brother, shalom.

  4. Fanny says:

    This article has some good points. However, the view is a bit unbalanced. Open your Bible to Psalm 119. Then read.

    • Terry Ivy says:

      Fanny, I’ve read Psalm 119, along with all the other Old Testament books. However, you may want to read the New Testament without a legalistic stain in your glasses. The New Covenant is not about promoting the Jewish law, but about how Jesus fulfilled the Law, and gives us His Spirit to fulfill the ‘righteousness of the Law’ by walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 8:4) I pray you free yourself from the delusion of religious legalism and discover the life that is in Christ!

  5. Lola Flowers says:

    After 16 yrs + of not seeing a friend, I was saddened to hear that he had changed his views. After a long conversation, I had come to found out he was a mesianic Christian, which I don’t have an issue with, but withing the conversation, he had mentioned that they no longer believes that Jesus, ( Yesua) is the only way to heaven, based on Matthew 19:16. Because Yeshua said not an disciple or apostle. That if we only follow the law, we are ok. That Gashem wants us to happy and live a good life. I quickly mentioned Roman and a few verses in Galatians. It sincerely broke my heart and only pray that he comes back to a sound doctrine. Amy recommendations on other bible verses? Also great article.

    • Terry Ivy says:

      Lola, Thanks for your comment. Romans, Galatians and Hebrews are the three books which bring clarity to those who would spin toward legalism and ‘law keeping.’ Romans lays out the ‘life of the Spirit’ and how Jesus alone is man’s righteousness. Galatians discusses the bondage of legalism and how we are delivered from the law through the coming of Christ. Hebrews declares how the law, the physical temple and priesthood, and the old covenant have ‘passed away’ and that we have come to Jesus and the new covenant. I will pray that your friend would take a genuine look at those three books and discover the true meaning of faith. God bless… Terry

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