|1. Do you beat yourself up because you missed a daily Bible reading ?
Yes or No
2. When something bad happens in your life do you automatically think God is
punishing you ? Yes or No
3. Do you judge the spirituality of others based on what they do in church ?
Yes or No
4. Do you put your pastor on a pedestal and give him total control of your life ?
Yes or No
5. Do you use Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, tithing, witnessing, etc.,
as a spiritual barometer ? Yes or No
6. Do you have any friends who are non-believers ?
Yes or No
7. Are you more concerned about pointing out the sins of others than sharing
God's Love and grace ? Yes or No
8. Are you more concerned about outward appearance then inward Truth ?
Yes or No
|So, how do you think you did ? If you answered " yes " to six out of the eight questions, you've been infected with a full
blown case of Legalism.
In light of such a diagnosis, your first reaction is probably arrogant indignation, outright anger and denial. If this is the
case, take a few deep breaths and wait a few moments for your heart rate to return to normal.
Are you Okay ? Ready to proceed ? If so, take a moment and pray that God would give you the spirit of wisdom and
revelation in the knowledge of Him, and that the eyes of your understanding would be enlightened ( Ephesians 1:17-18 ).
This is essential because many legalists have a spiritual chip on their shoulder, an arrogant attitude and an unteachable
spirit toward the truth of God's grace. Please understand, this isn't an antagonistic put-down, but rather it accurately
reflects the objective truth of God's Word - check out the Lords blistering eightfold rebuke of the religious leaders of His
day. ( Matthew 23:13-30 ).
" Legalism " is a sub-standard form of Christianity, which is based on self-reliance, human achievement, man-made
rules, regulations and traditions. In short, it's a performance based concept of Christianity, which relies on the outward
observance of the aforementioned to bring inward change. This is nothing less than an abortion of the Truth. It
diminishes the power of God, and it's an abysmal distortion of classic Christianity. The ultimate end, is Paul's wretched
man experience as recorded in ( Romans 7:15-24 ). If you think that represents normal Christian living, you've been
woefully misled and are experiencing a sub-standard Christian life.
Therefore, it's not surprising that Jesus battled against the legalistic religious leaders of His day. Likewise, ( Acts 15 ),
records the dissension Paul & Barnabas encountered in Jerusalem after returning from their first missionary journey.
The crux of the controversy was between the Judaizer's who wanted to mix grace with circumcision and the law of Moses,
i.e, man-made stipulations. These were the fore-father's of modern day legalism. On the other side of the dispute, were
Paul, Barnabas, Peter and James who championed the unmitigated power & purity of God's amazing grace. Praise God,
they won the day or we'd all be living in spiritual bondage !
Furthermore, Paul devoted two of his epistles to deal with this treasonous teaching against the Truth. We'll take a brief
look at two particular passages in both epistles. In ( Galatians 3:3 ), Paul asks a simple soul a penetrating question which
should give every legalist pause to reflect. He asked: " Are you so foolish ? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now
made perfect by the flesh ? " Here, the word " flesh " refers to : self reliance, self effort and human achievement. The
force of this, is brought out a little better in a couple modern translations. J.B. Phillips says, " Surely you can't be so
idiotic as to think that a man begins his spiritual life in the Spirit and then completes it by reverting to outward
observance? " The New Living Translation says, " Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the
Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? " Can there be any doubt, Paul is talking
about rank legalism and the utter fallacy of that entire system ?
In ( Colossians 2:11-16 ), the Apostle once again addresses the scourge of legalism. In verses 11-15, he speaks about the
miracle regeneration and some of its ramifications. And then, he follows this with a strong imperative, which says: "
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath
days". To cut to the chase, Paul's talking about legalistic additives, man-made rules, religious activity which feeds a
performance based relationship with God. As I said at the beginning, it's based on human achievement and it measures
one's spirituality based on what one does or does not do. It's a slow form of spiritual torture, and can strangle the
spiritual life out of someone !
Hopefully, this has given some critical insight into the spiritually transmitted disease of legalism, and how it blatantly
contradicts the Truth of God's Word. If your infected by this insidious disease, please don't give into despair. While the
diagnosis is dreadful, the prognosis is as bright and glorious as God's Grace!
To find out more, click on the following link , Grace Oriented Living