Posted by: jiminmontana | January 12, 2011

“Neither shall ye touch it” – Eve, the first Legalist (who killed you)

Good people in the Church usually don’t see it.  Good people in the World cannot see it, not for what it is.  Legalism kills.  Always.  Legalism killed Messiah.  Legalism is killing your church.  Legalism is separating you from your Maker in hundreds of ways that you can’t even realize.  Legalism is keeping you at an unhealthy distance from the people whom God has placed in your life for meaningful Fellowship.  Legalism kills. It ruins your life.  Consider the attempts to merit forgiveness and approval by the penitent during “holy week” in the Philippines.  Men actually have themselves crucified for a few minutes with real nails.  You just can’t do better than that.

Christianity UNIQUE

Every religion in the world is a legalistic construct.  It’s all about how you must act and think to become worthy of Heaven (or whatever reward there may be for that religious system).  Even those religions which deny a personalized deity have some type of carrots at the end of their sticks.  And the sticks are there to prod you on toward a more enlightened/righteous/noble/fulfilling life, both life now and perhaps life later.  It’s all about what you do to MERIT that reward.

The “penitent” crawling to “church” in Mexico

The Christian faith stands alone.  It’s all about what God does FOR US.  He came down from Heaven.  He was placed in a feed trough as a helpless baby.  And He lived the Perfect Life of a Jewish man under the Law of Moses.  With infinite Virtue in God’s eyes, His wrongful death as Man can superabundantly pay for the finite number of mankind’s sins.

So why add to that?  If you add to this Gospel, you trash  it.  If you add one bit of your own “virtue” to that equation, you wreck the whole thing!  To add to this Grace of God is to “run home to mama” as it where.  Her name is Legalism; she is man’s Religion, whatever the form.

still not sorry enough

Eve (and Adam)

Eve had to believe a few things on faith.  The man came first.  Eve believed Adam when he told her of how things went before her creation.  He told her what the animals had been named under his authority and Eve called them the same.  Adam told her what the Lord had said about the Garden — and the one Command: “in the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die.”  And Eve believed everything she was told.  Adam was her sinless “pastor”, perhaps even her “priest” in this regard.  Certainly, he was her head and her prophet.  However, in the presence of the Evil One, he just stood there, passing up a fantastic opportunity to “play the man” and be his macho best.  Man was given authority over every “creeping thing” — including snakes.

fresco circa 250 AD

Watch what Eve said.  “Neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”  That’s a softening of God’s “surely die(*1).  Who told Eve that she ought not touch it?  We are not told.  Maybe Adam told her that it would be best if they never touched it.  Criminal court cases always look for three things: motive, means, and opportunity.  The motive was to become “as gods“.  The means were there: one hand and two sets of teeth.  The opportunity was always with them, so perhaps it was “safer” to “touch not“.

That’s legalism: adding your own level of security to what God permits.  We all do it.  My style of legalism may not work for you.   I probably won’t like your brand either.

On the other hand, only a fool who is entertaining the idea of rebellion would toy with that fruit often.  We ought not make opportunity for our failure, but “walk circumspectly” so as to avoid it.  Like flirting with another person’s spouse, it just ought not be done.

But the legalistic mind, being all about Self and less about God, would begin to avoid that “dangerous” part of the Garden altogether.  Rather than pass by the tree, hedges could be gathered and transplanted to block access to the general area.  In time, walls would be built, first of wood and later of stone.  Perhaps bobby traps or snares could be set on the outskirts.  Land mines would ultimately be fabricated.  And the relationship with the Maker would be undermined by all of this carnal activity.  The Garden area all around the tree would be changed for the worse.  Liberties which God permits in His Holy Temple would become criminalized in the supercilious courts of Humanity.  The restrictions come in.  The Joy goes away.  Legalism kills it. Legalism can ruin anything.  See Gal 2:4-5

“. . . false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:  To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”

So, yes, Paul did discuss and respond to the Legalists who opposed both him and the “good news” of liberty in Messiah, but that conversation was a short one.  In fact, to respond to the specific concerns of the Legalistic mind is to behave like the poor physician who treats the symptoms of an illness and not the cause.   Romans 14 is the key.

Getting warmer, but still not sorry enough

Notice that Eve’s Legalism did not save her. By adding to the single Law with her second rule, she actually broke down the first.  She did touch the fruit — and lived!  . . . Kinda.  She could not see that her relationship with the Maker was dying.  Eve was getting “unplugged” from the source of eternal life.  At this point, she had her finger of the kill switch.  “What a relief”, she thought.  Her fears waned and her confidence in the Serpent waxed stronger.  With an impish glint in her eye, she sank in her teeth and her human spirit silently died.   {Does it seem rational that Communion/The Lord’s Supper/Eucharist is a reversal of the Original Sin — overcoming the Sin of wrongful-eating through the rite of taking Messiah into oneself?}

Eve had broken her own rule and God’s as well.  Holding the fruit, before she ate, she had become a sinner in her own estimation and would have been quick to hide from the Lord even at that point.  Her mind went from pristine clarity, to a creepy self-condemnation as she held the fruit, to certain death as she swallowed.  But that wasn’t enough.  The seeds of her Legalism had enough power to kill her husband as well.  Perhaps Adam feared being alone in the Garden again — possibly to be alone forever after God killed his bride (fear).  Maybe he didn’t want for his beloved to die alone (faithlessness).  Maybe he just needed a push to rebel against the Maker.    Each of us proves everyday that we are his natural-born children by the things we do, by the words we chose, and by the thoughts we nurture.

Impressive, really; but you can do a little more

Notice that her Legalism killed you.  It killed everyone you have ever known.  Our children come from the womb with a death-struck spirit. Adam no longer had a viable human spirit to impart to his children.(*2) Thus, the need for the Virgin Birth.  Legalism kills; sometimes it kills all over the place — and even through the years.

The Torah deals with adding to the Word in Deuteronomy 4:2

“You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”

Just like Eva, even adding to the word you make it difficult to keep GOD’s commandments.  Eve added her own ideas, and blew it for all of us.

Legalism’s Power

I wish that I could cure the Legalism in the church.  Not likely to happen.  Every pastor I have ever known would likely sleep better if he KNEW that everyone associated with his church would never again taste wine.  Some would prefer that the internet disappear forever because of all the garbage in cyberspace.  Consider that pastors oversee many funeral services and that it is just a matter of time before they bury a precious child who was destroyed by a drunken driver.  The Legalistic angst that we encounter usually comes from an initially good desire to see less suffering in the world — people carry some strong feelings about their chosen means to obtain that security.  So be careful and interpret the Legalist’s intensity with much charity.

However (for example), abstinence from alcohol (as opposed to righteous temperance) is not a part of Judaism or Christianity.  Abstinence is an important part of Islam.

002.219 Here are some quotes from the Quran: from AL-BAQARA (THE COW)

YUSUFALI: They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: “In them is great sin, and some profit for men; but the sin is greater than the profit.”

from AL-MAEDA (THE TABLE, THE TABLE SPREAD)”005.090 YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan’s handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper. PICKTHAL: O ye who believe! Strong drink and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork.”

actual Saudi beheading

Islam sees drinking wine to be a “great sin” on the same level as idolatry and divination — Satan’s handiwork.  Not so the Scriptures of God — it’s just not there.  (oh, yeah — don’t get drunk)

The Nobel Experiment

For the sake of argument, I could use an example of Legalism today that is petty and easily ridiculed, such as playing cards.  Concern regarding cards is still held by Mormons, being started by Joseph Smith.  But that’s safe.  I prefer to pick a REAL issue that is extremely divisive in the Church.  One of the favorite “litmus tests” for the well-meaning Legalist concerns the issue of “wine”.   I intend to crush the issue as best I can, yet I sincerely hope to not crush those well-meaning people who have erstwhile held this issue close to heart.  Consider the parent who recently lost a child to a drunk driver’s folly.  I intend to shoot “sacred cows” — not sacred people.  But, yes, I do want ALL those sacred cows cut up and in the freezer ASAP.

I live out in the West (formerly the Wild West) where cowboys and miners came to cut loose.  They left the cities, and left the rules — and brought the whiskey.  The Southwest saw the worst of it.  Murders for the dumbest reasons abounded.  Lives were ruined.  The fact that these criminals were already leaning toward wild living is sometimes acknowledged, but “drink” is clearly blamed.  The Temperance Movement grew in the East in part out of concern for the drunken mania in the West. God loves Billy Sunday and all the well-meaning preachers and parishioners like him.

Happy about Prohibition @ White House

Here’s a video of his preaching.  He is persuasive, but uses natural means of persuasion.  So much of what he preached was helpful, but his political inclinations and success may have overshadowed his love of the Lord in popular opinion.

And he was wrong.  The “Noble Experiment”, like most social-engineering, was a bust.  The good intentions of the Volstead Act are surpassed only by the disappointments of its results.

Prohibition opened America to organized crime:  mother to the drug trade today.  Those people who voted for the Volstead Act were unknowingly voting for Al Capone and the Mob.  It was a vote that guaranteed a groundswell of speakeasies all over the nation.

Speakeasy Map of Washington DC

It was a vote for a new level of police corruption that never could have existed otherwise.  Legalism ruins everything it touches.  Legalism has powers and results that almost seem to be supernatural.

Although these things be true, they are still natural arguments — like the video clip of Rev. Sunday’s argument  FOR  Prohibition.  What’s Scripture say?

John 2 — The Marriage Reception

Messiah and his disciples attended a marriage reception in the little town of Cana as recorded in John 2.  There are inherent Messianic inferences that are the ultimate importance of this passage, but that is not the topic of this post.  We see in verses 9 & 10 the following:

John 2:9 ESV – When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom  (10) and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

There have been some “ingenious” sermons designed to obscure the obvious revelation of Scripture.  John, a Jew living within ancient Jewish culture, makes no apologies to Americans that Jesus turned water into “wine”.  It was the sort capable of blurring a person’s powers of discrimination.  It was the same nature as the first wine which had been consumed, but was of superlative quality.  Any other “understanding” is contrived and reveals that a commentator has committed the first sin of Bible study, being isogesis:  reading ones prejudices into Scripture — making the Word of God conform to preferred words of man.  We all carry preferences regarding our own “rightness” which may have no foundation in the Lord’s Righteousness.  We fight about those preferences.

To have “drunk freely” is something which a wine merchant or sommelier could never do on the job.  Under the heading of “EXPECTORATION” in the above Wikipedia link, you’ll find the quote:

“Because wine can affect the consumer’s judgment, wine tasters generally spit the wine out after they have assessed its quality at formal tastings, where dozens of wines may be assessed.”

Wine Merchant using a spittoon

Not “this” and Not “that”

Messiah cleared up this issue for us — for those who care to see it.  Matt 11:7-19 – Jesus pointed out that John the Baptizer was the ultimate “religious guy” who denied himself of everything that was enjoyable.  John lived on bugs! — and the World said that he was possessed by a devil.(*3) Messiah said of Himself that He had come enjoying both food and wine, and the Jewish leaders were calling him a glutton and a drunkard.  (This was actually an argument that could have resulted in His death by stoning, based on the Law of Moses.(*4) —   Here, Messiah was primarily pointing out that people who are against whatever God is doing in the world will not accept any part of Him — not “this” way and not “that” way.  But secondarily, notice that this passage is all about how people have a notion about what a “godly person” looks like, and that notion goes well beyond Scripture.  And even when the two heroes of righteousness are among them (Jesus being Perfect), both of these men FAILED THE “SNIFF TEST” of the Legalists.  “John’s too uptight.  Jesus is too loose.  Isn’t there a more attractive package out there?” These people missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime because of their own additions to what God says “Good” is.  No, you will not be very successful at curbing the Legalism that’s in your church.  People love it like they love a cage in shark-infested waters.  The bars may be flimsy, but they are better than the RISK of living an Inspired life in a wide sea of daily choices.


What is a more pervasive trouble-maker than sexuality?  Alcohol abuse has ruined its thousands, but sexual sin has ruined its tens of thousands.  I think of the pain which sexual sin has caused literally billions of people: incest, rape, adultery, prurient addiction that ruins relationships and the individual, sex trafficking, the prostitution and pornographic industries that dehumanize men, women, and children.  These are afflictions of the human spirit that scar the soul with a permanency which only the Resurrection will cure.  Why not eliminate this trouble-maker altogether and promote artificial insemination?  Be like Origen, that ancient Church father who cut off his giblets and put them in the offering plate.

Where does it stop?

As a caveat, there are many people (like my father and his mother) who CANNOT have a glass of  with supper and be righteous in that.  I know a redeemed alcoholic who always opened his bottle and threw the cap on the ground — the seal had served its purpose and would not be needed again.  If that’s you, then you are the exception to this rule and ought not have one more drink until the Lord makes you Perfect in the blessed Day of His Return.

Either  yield to the Spirit OR    fight like animals

Yielding to the Spirit of God is how you and I can overpower our natural inclination toward Legalism; we seek the portent of safety which Legalism offers.  Remember that the little rules never helped Eve — the Flesh breaks through.  We have to yield to the Spirit of God.

Almighty God has an attribute that we would never expect:  humility of service to weak people.  The Spirit will never inspire us to corrupt our fellows.  Those who are “weak” regarding their liberties in Christ are not to be cajoled into doing something which, to them, is a sin.  To Eve, it was a sin to touch the fruit.  To urge a similarly weak person to go against their conscience (even though God never mentioned the issue) is to be just like the Devil talking to Eve.     1Cor8:7ff nails this down totally.     Secondly, it is contentious and forbidden for us to parade our liberty in the face of a Legalist.  Rather, yield.  Even as Messiah yielded to those who tore the skin off His bones, yield.  It’s wrong, but the issue is not about that.  The issue is peace and harmony and fellowship unhindered by anyones carnal desires.

However, it is the Legalists who will not allow for this harmony.  They will hate the “liberal” and punish him or her for the impertinence.  How dare you disagree with them regarding women’s apparel & cosmetics, going to movie theaters, drums in church, vegetarianism/omnivory, syncopated rhythm, wine, playing cards, one ethnicity marrying another, church on Saturday, church on Sunday, etc., etc.  I have personally heard full sermons against each of these “issues” — and would have preferred to hear the gospel.  Truly, the list of things that can be hated and feared has no end.  And it is the weaker people among us who hold these lists with the iron grip of fear.  These are always dangerous people, though you love them.  God’s family is HUGE, and there are all types of kids that we have to deal with.  (You will have to deal with me — sorry.)  Although the Legalist wants to love you as God instructs, the “sniff test” and uneasy disapprovals overshadow everything.  Fear is a more natural emotion than Love.  Legalists are the ones who build walls in the Garden and set the snares.  You will be breaking their rules — they are rarely revealed until it’s too late for you.  While it is important to realize that Legalists get a boost of self-esteem by keeping these extra, self-made rules – becoming the “super Saints” in their own eyes amid a sea of “spiritual slackers” — and gaining higher status in the eyes of their Legalistic club members while your status declines — that is their issue for God to correct.  Your concern is the fact that the Legalist will make you pay for being “unlike”, for being “dangerous”, for being “loose” and for making them feel insecure.  You might have an unhealthy influence on the kids!  Grace is not fully understood by the Legalist (not that it is fully understood by any of us — yet).  The Legalist does not have a strong enough relationship with the Lord as to be strong enough to play cards with his kids, hear percussion music or any musical instrument whatsoever at church, or have a glass of wine with supper.  Listen:  just enjoy these liberties righteously!

The Christian who enjoys Legalism fully is like a kid riding a fantastic bicycle, but the bike has not just one set of training wheels, but a dozen training wheels on each side.  And those training wheels are BIG.  Big enough that the bicycle starts to look small and even get lost behind the blur of all this “safety stuff”.  The kid starts to think more about maintaining all those contraptions and less about getting somewhere.  The safety inspector is promoted to the presidency.  The bike weighs a thousand pounds.  From somewhere deep inside the contraption, we can hear the faint voice of the Legalist telling us all to “slow down” and “be  more careful”.

Caveat — Cultural Heritage

Maybe there are “good” Legalists and “bad” Legalists.  The good ones have rules based on a respect for their culture-of-origin.  An observant/orthodox Jew — once converted to Messianic Christianity — is not going to enjoy a ham sandwich on the day of conversion.  A converted Muslim is going to tend to pray five times per day as is his custom — to feel creepy if he or she skips that prayer time.  Babies who grow up in Legalistic frameworks are going to tend to observe those stipulations through adulthood.  If they rebel, at least they know what they are rebelling against and do feel the weight of having a sinful nature.  Many Americans are casting off that noble quality of WANTING to honor their parents.  The mass media seems devoted to destroying the foundations of our civilization with a morbid and suicidal bent toward the destruction of everything sacred.  But the “good” Legalist resists this through a type of inherited orthopraxis: being “good” by what you allow and disallow in daily living.

The vast majority of Christian pastors who preach legalistic orthopraxy do so — not because of a candid reading of Scripture in the full — but because of a righteous desire to honor their parents or the godly person (or people) whom God used to bring them to faith in Messiah.  In a way, this is a fine motive.  But it is an early motive which is destined to end at some point.  When Messiah returns to take the Bride, the Wedding Feast will surpass the marriage at Cana (John 2) in every detail.  That recorded marriage feast is a foreshadowing of the Marriage Feast to come, as the Lord clearly indicated by His initial response to Mary, “my time is not yet come.”  Each pastor, their children, and their mentors (being Redeemed) will fully enjoy that blessed event and the reception that follows.

Notice also that Jesus had ZERO tolerance for the “bad” legalism of the Jewish traditions which did not come out of Scripture.  He was upbraided for not teaching His disciples to wash (Mt 15 — also Mk 7) in the tradition of the elders.  The rabbis had created a form of showmanship in getting their hands clean at meal time.

Rules, rules, rules — PILE ’em on!

They even taught that a little demon lived on your hands who would mess you up if you ate without rinsing him off!  This little demon of uncleanness, which only exists in superstition, was even given a name: “bat melech”!  Absurd.  This was hogwash, and Jesus had NO REGARD for their tradition.  (This is from the Gemarrah of the Babylonian Talmud, and is not authoritative Scripture.  Gemarrah is a rabbinic commentary of the Mishnah, which is itself an “oral tradition” commentary of the Law of Moses.)

The problem with cultural or “inherited” rules is that they come from an authority figure which can easily rival The Authority.  Respect for a father is healthy, until that respect becomes a form of mindless adulation that could be compared to hero worship or even idolatry.

Unfortunately, the Legalism of the patriarch gets handed down to the next generation with a force that carries more weight than may have been intended by the originator.  When a beloved person dies, kids often get overzealous in their attempts to honor the memory of the deceased — and the rule gets bigger.  When that traditional rule starts to rival the authority of Scripture, then Legalists assume that the rule is on an equal footing with the Scripture they have not studied adequately.  The authority gets blurred — that’s how our human minds work: we fill in the “voids” in Scripture with what we get from other sources.  Prejudice (the opinions that we bring with us when we read Scripture) prevents a clear understanding of what is written.  This is technically known as isogesis, the big mistake of “making God into our own image” when reading holy writ.  The “uncomfortable” parts of Scripture are avoided altogether.  Eve begins to preach.

Within the local church we have joined, pastors are required to not drink alcohol for a legitimate reason:  SO many people in this community have seen the destruction left in the wake of alcoholism and its abuse that they will NOT be able to hear a word of the Gospel if they can imagine that pastor having a beer on his day off.  This is the letter of the law at my church.  I hold the unspoken concern that I may not be dubbed a “real” member unless I get with the unspoken rule for a greater acceptance within the fold.  It’s only natural that at least one leader would use that concern as a litmus test.  Maybe it doesn’t exist.  Time will tell.  But I fear that time may never tell and I will never know all of those nebulous disapprovals which I will have garnered by being forthcoming about being me.

Feasting AND Fasting

Jesus knew when to feast and how to feast — and to do so Righteously.  He also knew when to go out into the desert and not eat ANYTHING for forty days.

Rembrandt’s Temptation with Stones, c 1635

Whether He did “this” or “that”, it was because of what He heard the Holy Spirit telling Him.  Being the good son, He obeyed his Mom — He honored her request.  Being the good Son, He yielded to the Spirit — according to His maturity as a godly person who is sensitive to the still, small voice of God.  That’s how we need to be!  There is nothing duplicitous about it.  Sometimes it’s “this way” and other times it must be “that way”.

Legalism’s Weapons

This is too much for the hardened Legalist.  In the church, if the Legalist persists to marginalize you for your liberty — after your attempt at peace — then the elders must be sought to referee the peace-making process.  If you find that your local church’s system is under the thrall of Legalism, then you are in for troubles unknowable.  Consider an imprecatory prayer — and get packing.  The church which is Legalistic from the top down has its own natural power for self-existence that only the Lord can correct.

Bracing us for this petty war, Paul warned us in Colossians chapter 2:16ff that strife with Legalists is unavoidable.

v. 16, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.” (Challenge the Legalists when they attack you for not observing their rules.)  v. 18 “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,” (Do not allow church leaders to marginalize you from playing a significant role in the church because you enjoy all of God’s blessings in natural life — in trying to be “spiritual” they are actually being sensuous: using the power of their own flesh to fight the desires of their own flesh) v. 19 “and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” (Legalists are not hanging close to the Lord so as to RELY on Him regarding these mundane issues, thus they have a messed up form of fellowship with the members of His church. They are hindering the growth that God is pushing for by making disciples in their own Fallen image.) v. 20, “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations–” (you Legalists are like zombies, dead to all the world’s rules and ideas of what righteous living really is, but you keep coming back to that junk as if from beyond the grave) v. 21, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch.” (blah, blah, blah . . . the different little rules are innumerable.  Where does it stop?  Enslavements abound.)  v. 22, “referring to things that all perish as they are used–according to human precepts and teachings?” (These ideas of right-living are straight out of some dude’s head, not God’s — and all of this stuff you’re so worried about is gonna go down the toilet within 24 hours — ultimately it’s gonna Burn.)  v. 23, “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (You legalists are just fooling yourselves; you fooled some others into believing in your style of religiousness, too.  But it is ALL garbage with no ability to stop your Flesh from messing you up.  By using your natural “goodness” to fight your natural “badness”, you are just going to wear yourself out.  Failure is inevitable.)

Legalistic rules didn’t stop Eve from killing us all.  Adam named her “the mother of all living“.  But Adam was in a Fallen state at that point and he misnamed her.  Eve, you are the “mother of all dying”.  You were the world’s first “super-religious person” and you’ve poisoned all your children, the unintending Hydra who kills all who follow in her tracks.

God will damn Legalism in that Great Day to Come.  It will not be tolerated.  Fellowship without carnality and without fear will flow up and down, left and right, forward and backward.  We will know Joy fully and share it unencumbered!

We acknowledge, Lord, that we all add bits to your Scriptures.  We repent of this folly.  Lead us into Your Righteousness; save us from our own, that we might enjoy fellowship with You and all the family you give us.

Technical Stuff

*1) Eve’s words, “lest you die” are in the imperfect sense.  Whereas the Lord had said, “you shall surely die”, Eve softens the certainty of God’s emphatic infinitive so as to convey the idea of “don’t touch it so that you will not die”.   The point of it all is to learn from the Scripture how even slight modifications of the Word are always wrong and dangerous.  To modify the Word is something we do when we do not like what the Word tells us.  We are in the wrong inwardly, so we “disremember” what the Word is exactly.  Interestingly, the Serpent quoted God more correctly than did Eva.  He lied saying, “You will not surely die.” Eve was the first to reduce the Word, so Satan was encouraged — by her — to refute the Word.

*2) Women do not have anything to do with the spirits of their offspring.  I know that this idea is offensive to women who are the perceived “life-givers” in the world.  But Mary did not impart her human spirit to Messiah or affect His human spirit  in any way — or else He would have been a sinner like anyone of us.  Thus, inexplicably, each child receives his or her human spirit from the natural father.  Perhaps that spirit comes from the heavenly realm, passes through the father (where it is ruined), and then is entrusted to the mother’s care.  Perhaps the child’s human spirit is engendered directly from the natural, Fallen, father.  Whatever the means, we know that the Holy Spirit is the force of Salvation who resurrects that deathward human spirit at the moment of saving faith in Messiah.  The ruined human spirit is “resuscitated” by an act of God for us.  Praise Him!

*3) Locusts are named in the Torah as being “clean” critters that are kosher for the starving Jew!  John was on the edge, but not over the edge.  Leviticus 11:22

“these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.”

So, even if the Lord ordained that locusts would wipe out a region’s agriculture, He permitted his chastened kids to survive on the bugs if not the grain.  Though punished, the repentant Jew could turn to the Lord — and not be distanced from Him through eating of that which is non-kosher.  Grace abounds, even though supper kinda sucks.  However, you have to be wise and get with that program immediately:  gather up the bugs fast before they fly away all at once — leaving you with nothing at all.

*4) The Law of Moses required that a unrepentant and “rebellious son” be stoned to death.  Dt. 21:18-21.  The Jewish leaders were trying to trump up an excuse for getting rid of Messiah: the irreligious One.  Isn’t it wonderful how irreligious He was — and is.

Enjoy the life God is giving to you with a spirit of appreciative love.

Thank you for reading and considering this complex issue.  We all suffer from Legalism.  I have an issue with tattoos and piercings.  Those guys must be crazy!  Or stupid.  Or self-destructive.  Or vain.  Or _____.  Or ________.  Hey, look at me!

Hi, Mom!

Modern Primative

Functional Tattoo – Mark of a Deserter


Post Script, a year after the original article

Thanks for the comments, folks.  I am glad to know that the recent post on “Pomegranates” was a blessing to some of you.

Others kind of freaked out about the issue of wine as not befitting a Christian’s life.  Being raised by an alcoholic father (who was raised by my grandmother, also an alcoholic), I am well-aware of the troubles that come with intemperance.  It boggles the mind to consider all of the sorrows and untimely deaths that drunkenness has wrought.

Notwithstanding, the primary consideration and conclusions have to stem from Scripture.  John 2 clearly depicts Messiah providing additional wine to a marriage feast which had run dry.  To doubt that red wine with intoxicating properties was the substance involved is to recklessly deny eons of Jewish culture.  Moreso, this prejudiced opinion makes hash of the words which the host of the wedding makes in John 2: 9-10 as explained above.

When I hear a Believer mention (always with a degree of Pride) that he or she has “never tasted alcohol”, it occurs to me to ask (usually unspoken, but sometimes I just say it), “Are you telling me that your righteousness exceeds that of Jesus?”  At that point, my ears stop working for about five minutes — I can’t get my mind to quit being amazed by how obtuse an otherwise intelligent person can become when prejudice and Legalism override reason and openness to the Word.  Sometimes this is with people I love and would take a bullet for.

Remember that Messiah was hated by the learned religious leaders of that day because they refused to believe the Scriptures with candid openness.  Their minds were set.  I am not deeply concerned about the natural arguments, but what does God say?  There are a few logical issues which the abstinence-promoter will need to consider before spreading much vitriol toward those who cannot agree.

Consider a short list of known saints (each brilliant and respected) who were not thought-victims of America’s temperance movement — wine-bibbers all:  Charles Spurgeon, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Luther, Calvin, John Newton (author of “Amazing Grace”), Jonathon Edwards, nearly all English-American Puritans, Baptists Bunyan and Gill, George Whitfield, William Bradford, the Wesleys, etc., etc.  It is even written in the diary of a passenger on the Mayflower that the pilgrims decided to go ashore much prematurely because their over 7000 gallons of beer had run dry: “We could not now take time for further search…our victuals being much spent, especially our beer…”  — See Philbrick’s excellent book:  Mayflower: a Story of Courage, Community, and War, which documents this fact at length from a variety of sources — initially on the first page of the first chapter of the book.

Charles Spurgeon, arguably the greatest influence on the Church since the 1870’s, wrote the following concerning the authoritative rare book entitled, The Wines of the Bible: an Examination and Refutation of the Unfermented Wine Theory by the Rev. A. M. Wilson. Hamilton, Adams & Co.

‘UNFERMENTED wine’ is a nonexistent liquid. Mr. Wilson has so fully proved this that it will require considerable hardihood to attempt a reply. The best of it is that he is a teetotaler of more than thirty years’ standing, and has reluctantly been driven to ‘conclude that, so far as the wines of the ancients are concerned, unfermented wine is a myth.’ While total abstainers are content to make no assault upon the cup used at the Lord’s table, they work harmoniously with all who seek the welfare of their fellow-men; but when they commence warfare upon that point they usually become more factious than useful: everything is then made subordinate to their one idea, and the peace of the church is disregarded. It is well, therefore, that one of themselves should protest against carrying a principle to extremes, and best of all that he should do so by showing that the theories which have been advanced are utterly untenable. We wish the utmost success to the abstinence cause, and, therefore, trust that there will be no pressing of the question of unfermented wine at the Communion, for it will not promote the cause, and will create much heartburnings, and, worst of all, it will be contrary to the Divine precedent. The question is not necessary to the temperance movement, and we wish it had never been raised. Mr. Wilson has written the thick volume now before us to settle the matter, and we believe that he establishes beyond reasonable debate that the wines of the Bible were intoxicating, and that our Lord did not ordain jelly or syrup, or cherry juice to be the emblem of his sacrifice.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, emphasis added
The Sword and the Trowel, 1877, p. 437

Suffice it to say that most non-Catholics prior to 1910 would have been flabbergasted that American churches commonly use grape juice at Communion today.  Having studied the matter at some length, I am convinced that the Lord’s miracle at Cana in John 2 is a precursor to the Joy which will be shared by all in the coming Age of the Kingdom on Earth.


Still, there remain countless real-world examples for promoting abstinence:

Please consider my earlier blogs about the subject — and then get back to me.

Old Crow Christmas  — a true (funny?) cautionary tale from my life

Neither shall You Touch It  — How Eve’s Legalism killed us all


Also another blogger’s article concerning the “Universal Prohibition of Proverbs 23” – a very well-done article.

Drunk nails cyclists in Mexico — “One more tequila for the road!”
“Did I have Fun?”

Legalism LINKS: — cartoons



  1. I remembered the address!

    I read your blog which I found compelling. I don’t believe in legalism either and I am also very much against religion which hinders a relationship with Christ. I appreciate what you had to say about walking circumspectly.

    The Jewish people were so afraid of breaking the laws that God gave to Moses that they created other laws as a hedge to keep them as far away from sin as possible. The laws of the Old testament were given by God and the Jew that did his best to keep the law was righteous in doing so. Keeping the law was commanded by God but the problem was, it could not be done. Jesus came not to do away with the law but to fulfill the law. He was the completion of the law. He was the only one who could ever fulfill what was written in the Law. For four thousand years the dear chosen of God were on an endeavor to do the things contained in the law and yet they remained separated from God as evidenced by the veil in the temple.

    By his ability to fulfill the law ( a lamb without spot or wrinkle) and his death upon the cross, Jesus issued in a new covenant, evidenced by the renting of the veil in the temple. Not only do God’s people Jew and Gentile alike have the opportunity to no longer be separated from Him but they have the opportunity to know him on a personal level.

    I am not one to believe however, that we get our ticket at the alter when we accept Jesus as our savior. You can have the ticket but fail to get on the train. If just a salvation experience is all that God required we would have no need of the instruction of the Word of God.

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God (or woman) may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

    The laws of God that were once written on stone are now written on the fleshly tables of our hearts (2 Corinthians 3) and we who have not the law do by nature the things that are contained in the law (Romans 2:14)

    We can and will do those things contained in the law if we become partakers of the divine nature (of Christ) having escaped the corruption that is in the world (religion) through lust. 2 Peter 1:4.

    If ye be risen with Christ seek those things which are above where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set you affections on things above not on things on the earth. For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God. Col 3: 1-3.

    The secret is being found “in Christ” It doesn’t miraculously happen at that first altar experience but in many altar experiences. Salvation is a process but one that comes through relationship not legalism.

    • Barbara:

      Thanks for your comment and friendship. You and Jim are lovely people.

      The idea of “salvation” is almost too big, so the word “saved” is almost usless. We are Justified, being Sanctified, and soon to be Glorified. These are all aspects of the idea of “salvation”. What do you think?

      Thanks again, B.

      • Jim,

        Thank you for your kind words. Jim and I feel the same about you and your family. Blessed to know you and to fellowship with you.

        Your answer was refreshing!
        Jim and I could not agree with you more. We absolutely see three phases of salvation in the scriptures.

        Thank you for your blog. It was great food for thought.

  2. Wow…. This blog answered so many questions I’ve had. Thanks for posting Jim! I must share this. How easy it is for us to add to His Word.

    • Hey, Joel: It is impossible for us to KNOW what fork in the road to take in matters of when to do something which is generally permissible in the Word. A huge concern for each of us is to stay in the Spirit and listen to that tiny Voice which is so easily vetoed by our carnal preferences. I accuse myself! Intercession is a big help.

  3. […] Neither shall You Touch It […]

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