But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness.
Several years ago I cried out to the Lord and asked Him, “What is the greatest hinderance to world evangelism?” If I’ve ever heard His voice, He spoke to me one word: “legalism”. Over several years the Lord has shown me in His word how legalism creeps into the church like an angel of light only to bring darkness and bondage to God’s people, hindering them from making disciples.
The people who delivered Jesus to the Romans to be crucified considered themselves holy people who walked in the light of scripture. They fasted and prayed, gave to the poor, gave tithes, sacrificed for their belief in God, studied the scriptures, and a generation earlier, they were the ones being crucified by the thousands. But, Jesus declared that they were play actors, hypocrites, full of the devil and self and bound for eternal punishment. They were blinded by legalism and religious tradition. They quoted God’s word, but their hearts were far from Him. They longed for the Messiah, but couldn’t recognize Him standing in front of them. Their light was really darkness.
We have done the same in our day. God has released the church from the ceremonial laws of the old covenant, yet many churches are taking believers back under the law. The Jerusalem council released the Gentiles from the ceremonial Jewish laws and told them if they abstained from eating blood, things strangled, and meat offered to idols, and kept themselves from sexual sins, they would do well. It has become stylish in the modern church to go back under the law and when we do so we insult what Jesus did on the cross. Fund raisers on TV, like carnival barkers, declare that if you give during certain Jewish holidays your seed will be multiplied even more than it normally would. All this stinks in the nostrils of God.
Even Peter, one of Jesus inner circle of three, was deceived by the enemy to start a Messianic church within the early church and take people back under the lifestyle of circumcision, under the Jewish law. Paul, a former Pharisee, rebuked Peter publicly for going back under the law:
Galatians 2:11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
The entire Messianic church movement is hypocrisy and darkness. Like Paul, I would ask any Messianic Rabbi, “why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?” It’s darkness masquerading as light. It’s hypocrisy clear and simple. Even in evangelical circles, we have preached law and compromised grace. See my blog article, ” The Unbearable Burden.” Three times in Galatians, Paul states that to go back under the law puts you under the curse of the law, which is the essence of spiritual darkness.
It’s time to turn on the light and set the captives free ! Most of the evangelical church is under bondage to the law: sabbath keeping, tithing, abstaining from pork, celebrating Jewish holidays and festivals, etc…. it’s all an insult to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ which he purchased on the cross. Legalism will bring you under a curse and spiritual darkness, yet it masquerades as the light and “the deep things of God” in many of our churches today. If the light that is within you is really darkness…. how great is that darkness.