We hear a lot about legalism and we have discussed a whole lot about liberalism. Legalism is a disposition to make laws; liberalism is a disposition to disregard law. The former seeks to bind where God has not bound, and the latter would reduce what God has bound. The both extremes are wrong. The problems of legalism and liberalism confronting the church today are not new, but HAVE EXISTED in all the history of THE Churches of Christ.
The Sadducees of Jesus day were religious liberals and perhaps best known for saying “there is no resurrection neither angel, nor spirit.” Acts 23:8 However, we also know that they insisted upon being free of the judgment of the Mosaic Law. They were determined not to be restricted by legal regulations of any kind. Hence, they repudiated all refining deductions from the law, and appeal simply to the letter thereof, which was easier to circumvent. Jesus had no word of commendation for the Sadducees, only profound reverse warnings, “take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees…. Then understood they that He bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” Matthew 16:6,12
Some teachers of today are altogether in the party of modern Sadducees in denying the virgin birth, vicarious death, victorious resurrection, venerable ascension; denying also a coming judgment and a future reward, and affirming a this world only doctrine. Such teachers have to have no respect for what is written in the law of God, unless it happens to serve their supervised purpose. Other teachers are liberals with reference to some things only being true to the word in other matters. Some teacher, for instance, might stoutly affirm his faith in the resurrection of Jesus and yet seek to relax the law of God in other areas, labeling teaching on obedience that which would hurt legalism, diminishing respect for God’s authority—and all authority! Such a person is part Sadducean. These half-breed Sadducees is the more dangerous of the two. He appears to be sound in the face, but, in fact, undermines the very foundation upon which the gospel rest.
Everywhere in holy writ we are commanded to be concerned about divine law, and always careful to render to sacred injunctions on obedience. In the sermon on the Mount, where Jesus laid down the foundation principles for His coming kingdom, the master unequivocably declared that obedience to the gospel is the condition of acceptance with God. “Not everyone that saith unto Me Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that will do the will of My Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 Both Testaments emphasized absolute necessity of complete obedience; as the apostle Paul by inspiration wrote, “he became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey, Him.” Hebrews 5:8.
The S and is what you Sadducean like teachers among us today attempt to get around the plain and simple requirements of God’s law. A few of these modern Sadducees have gone so far as to say there is no law for the disciples of the Lord. “Christ died to free man from the bondage of the law principle,” they write. Then they set verses which teach that Jesus died to free men from the Mosaic law, as such verses to you prove their position. When he refuses to see that he who takes his position changes from one law to another law; the termination of the first law does not mean the law principle ended! The apostle Paul by inspiration writes; “for the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus made us free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2 The apostle refers to the law of Christ which makes us free from the law of Moses. A Sadducee of our time, being unmindful of Paul’s statement, must then declare that Paul preached that faith is to deny that that was advocated by law. Such a statement is an absolute foolishness!!