Legalism in Today’s Body of Christ –
Christmas in the Crosshairs
By Nathan Leal – December 27, 2013
Legalism is destroying the remnant church! I’m sorry that I have to say this but I believe that it is true.
Over the last few years, I have watched several theological trends gain traction in the lives of believers. One of the trends has to do with believers adding rules of the old law to their Christian walk.
There are many reasons that this is happening but in summary it has to do with a confusion of what holiness is over faith. The confusion goes even deeper where some are substituting an exterior of self-fortified walls based on law keeping and believe it to be an exhibition of inner sanctification.
These self-fortified walls are adorned with a devotion to amendments which harpoon Christianity and convert it into a religion of pious regulation and religious order.
Now folks, I am sure that what I’m about to say is going to offend some of those who are a part of this movement. But it must be stated because this trend is becoming a stranglehold for many people.
- Inner sanctification will never be accomplished by outer works, or by the outer abstaining of things which are benign.
- Inner sanctification will not be accomplished by the adorning of the outer garments of spirituality.
…or worship on “Saturday” instead of “Sunday.”
Nor will it be accomplished by whether or not a person celebrates…
… are you ready folks?
…whether or not a believer celebrates Christmas with their family.
Are You Still With Me?
I know that I just opened a can of worms but I felt the need to talk about this. Now ladies and gentlemen, please know that I have no ill will toward anyone but I really believe that I must visit this topic.
I know that it is dangerous ground and that some could argue against what I am going to say but please hear me out.
Folks, our faith has to do with our relationship with Jesus. It has to do with whether or not we have repented of the sins that were inside of us.
Our faith has to do with whether or not we have been born again into spiritual renewal. It has to do with our understanding of the power of the Blood of Jesus.
Our faith has to do with our devotion to worshiping Jesus every day of the week, to the born again believer, every day is the Sabbath. Why? Because Jesus IS the Sabbath!
The Sabbath is not a day in the week. The Sabbath is the immersion of us with Him, our Lord and Savior.
The Sabbath in the days of old was a SHADOW of what is available to us now in the present. The Lord’s Day is every day. This is a great mystery and seems to have a segment of today’s believer’s confused.
Again, I know that these words are challenging but is it possible that there is truth in them?
The Annual Attack
I have noticed that every year around this time, I start seeing the bashing and attacks begin against those who celebrate Christmas with their families. I have witnessed that there are some who condemn those who are remembering and celebrating the birth of our Lord on this holiday.
Why is this?
“Well Nathan, it is because Christmas is a pagan holiday! I studied it. I can prove it, I watched the YouTube’s that showed me!.. It is very evil!”
My reply, … pagan to whom?…
And thus … It is as it is… in the eye of the beholder! In other words, I guess if someone is convinced that it is evil then that is their choice. We all have a conscience so let your’s guide you.
However, why is it that with this holiday, some of the enemies of Christmas become crusaders who enlist themselves in a campaign of condemnation to those with holiday cheer?
I have seen some of the arguments against Christmas. I have also seen that some of the anti-Christmas rhetoric generalize the holiday and likens those who acknowledge the day as participating in an abomination that has few equals.
To this I say, “Absurd!”
Folks, if you choose to not celebrate the holiday is it because of conscience or do you really believe that it is an unpardonable sin?
In my humble opinion, celebrating CHRISTmas is not equal to eating babies or stealing candy from crippled kids!
But based on the hatred that I see towards it on the internet, it would seem that having a nativity in one’s house is an evil of high proportions!
I am amazed that while I can see our Lord in the holiday, others only see the pollution of paganism. Perhaps I need better spectacles.
Or perhaps Jesus will show me my error and if this is in my future, I will mend my ways and seal the breach against Christmas.
I don’t know. If it is possible that I just need to come around, then why won’t the anti-Christmas people offer prayers for me, or encouraging words seasoned with love and grace to challenge me? Because this is not what I encounter during this time of year. Instead, I encounter passionate diatribes that inform me of my failure.
The accusations are colorful…
“You are a child of Babylon!”
“If you have Christmas with your family, you are a fraud!”
You are blind…!
Again folks, if I am blind about this matter, then why do some throw hatred towards me instead of grace? I have a theory of why the encounters are hate-filled. More in a moment…
But as I have processed this whole matter about the movement of legalism in today’s end time church I have to wonder at the logic that is used to isolate Christmas as being “pagan” but ignore the bigger reality.
Paganism is Everywhere!
My friends did you know that the names for the days of the weeks and months in our modern day calendar are named after pagan gods? And every time that any of us reference the name to schedule our lives we are participating in paganism?
Every time folks! When we see the work schedule, the appointment is with pagan names!
…When you tell anyone a date for anything…the names are pagan!
…When you schedule the gathering for worship…again…it happens on a pagan day!Did you know this?
So as I have watched the purists out there talk about the evils of Christmas, I have to wonder, and say to myself…but…but…don’t they know that they are acknowledging pagan days every day of the week.
Does this mean that every day of the week an abomination?
Is saying, “I worship on Saturday,” really saying, “I worship on Saturn’s Day?”Because that’s what Saturday means and Saturn was a pagan diety.
Uh Oh, Now What?
Here’s another conundrum, how many times has an anti-Christmas advocate sent out a birthday card with a time and a date…
“Little Joey’s Birthday is this Thursday, January XX.”
Translation – “Little Joey’s Birthday is this Thor’s Day in the month of Janus..XX.”
Janus was the pagan god with two faces. So does this mean that little Joey’s Mommy is committing an abomination because she’s celebrating a party with Thor and Janus? Is Joey’s mommy pagan?
Folks, can you see how absurd that this is?
Again, how many of the anti-Christmas well meaning purists continue to schedule their lives and use the names on the calendar? I suspect it is all of them!
Here’s another disclosure, some of the months on today’s Jewish calendar are named after Babylonian false gods!
Some may rebut that this does not mean we have to join Babylon. And this is true, we are not to be immersed in Babylon. But there is a distinction between living while in Babylon and worshiping the ways of Babylon.
Aside from our Christian walk there are cultural traits, mannerisms and celebrations that do not add or take away from the Christian faith.
1. A salute in the military.
2. A birthday party for the kids.
3. The celebration of country’s national independence. i.e – the Fourth of July.
4. Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc.
And this brings me back is my original point, how can anyone escape, when they hurl rocks at others about Christmas, when they themselves use the calendar to schedule their lives?
Folks, please think about this!
And thus, for me, Christmas is NOT about Santa, or elves or a tree,
…or pagan worship!
What Christmas is To Me
Christmas is about the celebration of the birth of our Lord.
In our house Christmas is also about family.
My friends, one of the most precious things that we have in this life is our families and our loved ones. For a mother and father to have a fruitful bounty of children and teach them about the birth of Christ is not evil!
For a family to engage in worship songs which are about the beautiful, magnificent and holy birth of Christ is not evil!
I have seen the accusations in social media, emails, forums and websites which condemn the tradition of Christmas and equate it with witchcraft and satanic paganism!
But ladies and gentlemen, to call the worship of our Lord, “paganism” is to navigate into an area of self-righteousness and dangerous judgment against the brethren.
Are you still with me? Or are you already writing the hate mail?
Folks, we are living in very perilous times right now. The coming future is not going to be easy for the Christian who desires to be a part of the remnant. But what is the remnant? The answer could also a long sermon, but in summary, the remnant is made up of people who keep the commandments of God.
Jesus summed up the commandments into the concise instructions of loving the Lord thy God with all our strength, soul and mind…in others words, everything in us, and to also love our neighbors as our self.
Loving your neighbor means that you have to love them even if they celebrate Christmas.
Loving your neighbor does not mean that during Christmas time, the stoning should begin!
For those who believe that celebrating Christmas places a believer’s salvation in jeopardy, I have to wonder why the outcry against it must be done with such venom?
Why the hate?
My friends, our faith is not determined by the outer garment. Our faith is determined by whether or not we allowed our heart to be torn and broken in repentance when we faced our sinful stains at the cross; iImmoral stains that have to do with what we read in the scriptures.
1 Corinthians 6:9,10
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
Brethren, I do not see the celebration of Christmas in this list.
By the way, if one desires to abstain from this holiday, God bless them. I will not condemn or judge. But why is the “grace” not returned?
Again, I am not sharing this article to create a firestorm, although there’s a chance it might. I am sharing this because right now all of us need to be examining the inside of our own hearts, not the hearts of others who do or do not celebrate Christmas.
For those who desire to throw stones during Christmas time, it makes me wonder what the motives are? Because throwing stones does not show love…
Folks, I have received the emails! I’ve read them..
If you happen to be against Christmas and you are reading this, I have nothing against you as far as your desire to abstain. It is your choice and I will not condemn you or throw rocks at you.
But why is it that many of those who are anti-Christmas cannot return the favor?
Why is it that many in this group must condemn through words that are laced with anger and a spirit of “old fashion meanness!”
You know folks, based on this trend, I have to wonder if in the end times, some of those that will betray the brethren unto death will be in these ranks?
Again, if you happen to be in this group but do not have the anger that I describe, I apologize, but why is that many of your colleagues seem to have so much anger?
My friends, the anger of one’s heart is the tale of the tape! Anger reveals that there are unresolved issues within. And it makes me wonder, does this show that there is a connection?
Is the disdain towards this holiday a sign that there is un-forgiveness towards family members…or ex family members?
I know folks, but someone has to say it!
…And since I have one foot in the grave, it might as well be me!
We Tried It!
Several years ago, my wife and I decided that we were going to become anti-Christmas. So we got rid of all things Christmas in our house. And for several years, Christmas came and went.
The one thing that I noticed during those years was that I did not feel any different inside. I did not feel holier, or more joyful or more peaceful.
I did notice, however, that I felt sad and empty.
I also noticed that my flesh felt pious and self-righteous, almost like I was better than everybody else because they were being pagan and I was not.
After a few years of this, I noticed something else. I noticed that I had robbed my children of having holiday memories with their mother and father.
I was also guaranteeing that I would never again get to sing the beautiful carols about the birth of our Lord with my family.
…Those beautiful carols, there are many of them that bring a tear to the eye, and feed my soul with a rush of wholesome joy. For who can listen to the song, “O Holy Night” and not be moved?
Who can listen to the powerful words of “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem,” or “Away in a Manger” and not be blessed?
When I banned Christmas from my life several years ago, I was left empty.
There’s another thing about Christmas; it’s the chance to make good memories with your family and your children. It’s the chance to imprint a setting where your children gather together and talk about the birth of our Lord.
I recently announced that I have in autoimmune disease that may someday – “do me in.” With this in mind, I want to make as many memories as I can with my wife and my children. Making beautiful holiday memories is not pagan nor is it evil.
Sitting at a Christmas table and eating a turkey with my family is not pagan, it is a gift! Making beautiful memories is what we are all supposed to be doing right now.
So this is why I have decided to celebrate Christmas. I do not do it to make the world angry. I do not do it to give some ammunition and rocks to be thrown at me.
I do not do it to anger my Hebraic Roots and Messianic brethren out there.
I do it simply for one reason, because I love Jesus and I love my family.
For those of you who may be wrestling with this whole Christmas thing, please know that celebrating it or not celebrating it will not change the condition of your heart.
And making beautiful memories with your family is a privilege that will not always be available.
So my friends make the best of it, whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah or something else.
end of article
our first response
Brother Nathan – We have read your message on ‘Legalism’ and it troubles us in our Spirit greatly. Not because you might have caused some offense but because you have missed the point of Scripture and ‘pigeon-holed’ a lot of people with many of your statements. We support some of the comments you made and adamantly disagree with other statements based on the Word of the Living God. We cannot address all of this article at this time – it will take a day or two to pray and respond properly under the leadership of His Spirit. Allow it to suffice for now that we do pray for you – for healing, strength, provision – and all the watchmen – a group of which we are a part – and do not condemn folks for not walking according to the Word.
But there is much you have missed and misapplied in your article concerning ‘legalism’. By the way, do you understand the true definition of ‘legalism’ or ‘legalist’ ? It is one who walks and conducts themselves according to the recognized standard of conduct for the group to which they belong. As ‘Believers’ what is our recognized standard ? The Word – the full counsel of God . . .
not our denominational interpretation thereof. We are in our 60’s with many years in ministry with a strong baptist background and God has corrected us in many of these areas. Paganism and idolatry are not the same thing but both are abhorrent to our Father.
We love you brother and will share much more in the days to come. Remeber, Hebrews 4:9 states that even in light of all that Jesus has done, there still remains a ‘Sabbath-keeping’ for God’s people. Study in the words . . . for they do mean something . . .
Blessings to you and yours – Jerry & Rhonda
2 “How blessed is the man who does this, And the son of man who takes hold of it; Who keeps from profaning the sabbath, And keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely separate me from His people.” Neither let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.”
4 For thus says the LORD, “To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant,
5 To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, And a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.
6 “Also the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, To minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD, To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath, And holds fast My covenant;
7 Even those I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.
12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
19 Therefore, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household . . .)
Matthew 5:18 Truly I tell you ( Jesus speaking ), heaven and earth will pass away, but not the slightest stroke of a pen will pass from the Law until all has been accomplished.
Matthew 5:19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of the commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
The Sabbath is a portion of the commandments ( the 4th commandment ) that we are mandated to obey . . . willful submission to the ways of a loving Father . . .
To say that ‘the Sabbath is not a day’ is to ignore much of Scripture and much of what we are called to, both now and in the Kingdom to come as a set-apart people because of the Blood of Messiah . . .
Salvation by grace through faith . . . Christ, and Him crucified . . . then obedience . . . but to the Word from a saved people is our choice . . . we can choose to be obedient children or disobedient children . . . the choice is ours . . . but there are consequences to our choices.
In the next segment of our response we will talk about ‘faith’ and ‘works’ . . .
We love you in the Lord and pray for you and your family in these days.
shalom – J & R end of our first response
Nathan’s response and P.S. to us
Have a Happy New Year.
our reply to Nathan
Shalom brother – I guess the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that nowhere in our response to you was ‘teaching you hebrew roots’ mentioned. The ‘information’ we shared is not just info and is not ‘hebrew roots’ but Scripture straight out of the book and in context.
Again . . .Blessings to you and yours – J & R end of our reply . . .