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Dangerous Doctrines: Works-Based Salvation / Hebrew Roots Movement

Some of the most destructive doctrines plaguing social media are the works-based salvationists (such as the Hebrew-Roots Movement (HRM) and the “sinless-perfectionists”. Both of these doctrines imply that in order to obtain salvation, you must somehow fulfill a checklist of ritualistic duties or become “sinless” in order to “earn” your way in heaven. Talk about blocking salvation!

Matthew 23:13 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

The Hebrew Roots Movement essentially teaches that we must become Jewish to receive salvation (which is CLEARLY refuted in Galatians alone). This includes keeping the law through observing the Sabbath on Saturday, not eating pork, and observing Jewish feast holidays (to name a few). I have even heard a member of HRM state that they would still sacrifice an animal in the temple!

Hebrews 10:11-13 "Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy."

The Hebrew Roots Movement seeks to put their followers back into bondage, and in doing so “deny the sovereign Lord who bought them”. If the Law of Moses is still in effect today, and is still a requirement in order to receive salvation, then the law could not have been fulfilled by Jesus, and Jesus failed at what He came to do.

2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves.

The fulfillment of the law by Jesus is a basic doctrinal truth that must be understood, embraced and taught: The law was fulfilled by Christ. Jesus did not come to oppose the law or to prevent its fulfillment:

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

If the Law of Moses was NOT fulfilled by Christ, it remains as a completely binding legal system. If we do not hold the law down to the smallest commandment, then we are doomed. Jesus plainly said that not one “jot or tittle” would pass away until all was fulfilled.

Matthew 5:17-18 "I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished”

Jesus obeyed and completed the law, becoming a curse on our behalf:

Galatians 3:10-13 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”

Jesus accomplished His heavenly goal: the law is fulfilled and does not need to be practiced by men to fulfill a requirement for salvation.

In fact, Jesus only identified two commandments, which summarized the law:

Matthew 22:34-40 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Notice Jesus didn’t say anything about practicing Sabbath on a certain day or dietary restrictions.

Legalistic doctrines are dangerous. The law-keepers turn the relationship between Christ and the believer into a master/slave relationship in which the master commands perfection from the slave in a manner that is unattainable. The ironic thing about these false teachers whose doctrines assume that you must keep an unattainable standard, fret over their ability to keep the law. They are not only unsure and unstable, but nothing they are doing impresses the Lord at all.

Isaiah 54:6 (NLT) "We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind."

They fail to understand where true righteousness comes from:

Phillipians 1:9-11 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

True righteousness comes through Christ, and Christ alone. Legalism is a pitiful rat-race that should evoke sympathy, much like a hamster feverishly running in a wheel and yet getting nowhere. We must be determined to speak out about these destructive teachings in hopes that those who follow these legalistic doctrines may come to a saving knowledge of the truth. And we know that this is possible, by looking at Paul’s conversion:

Philippians 3:3-8 "If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ."

Legalistic doctrines are dangerous because they create doubt that anyone could be worthy to enter heaven. They promote “earning your salvation” (through works) which is impossible. They somehow entirely miss the point that Jesus fulfilled the law because we could not. They disregard the scripture which teaches that Jesus fulfilled the law and atoned for sin.

The logical conclusion of all legalistic doctrines is that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was ineffective, and reduces the crucifixion to a bloody event rather than the once-and-for-all atonement of sin.