Is it possible to be a legalist and not even know it? Why do Christians fall prey to performance-based religion? Are you convinced that God is mad at you and that the only way you can make Him happy is by being a better person? Are you convinced that your obedience and performance have some bearing on your salvation? Are you tired of trying harder because it seems that trying harder is never good enough?
Legalism is a system of thought where rules, expectations, and regulations promise God’s love in return for human effort and obedience. Legalism is an attempt by man to justify God’s Love. Under the cloak of Christianity, legalism offers salvation and God’s Love as a reward for performance. Legalism is a toxic virus, spread by religion and best treated by God’s unconditional and amazing grace.
SO, IF YOU ARE BRAVE, AND PREPARED TO BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF, TAKE THE LEGALIST TEST AND SEE HOW YOU DO.
YOU MIGHT BE A LEGALIST IF:
1) God’s love for you depends on what you do, instead of who you are.
2) Meeting the expectations of others, especially those in your congregation or in positions of authority, are paramount.
3) You believe that if you don’t tithe, your other 90% will be cursed.
4) You try hard to obey God and it irritates you that others think they can get away with avoiding the same level of dedication and commitment that you have.
5) You fall short because you don’t have enough faith, or you haven’t prayed enough, or because you just need to be a better person.
6) God is predisposed to be angry with you because you are a sinner and He knows that YOU know you can do better.
7) Your sense of spiritual well-being is tied to a Christian leader and their opinion, or membership in your church rather than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
8) You tell your children not to do something in church or around other Christian families that you allow in your home.
9) You believe that what people wear, hairstyles, piercings, or tattoos, is a clear indication of that person’s spirituality and character.
10) After being around Christians for a while you feel drained because you are weary of putting up a false front.
11) When you happen to miss a service or activity of your church, even if it is a valid excuse, you feel guilty.
12) If your ability to receive a blessing from God, such as healing, depends on how you have been performing.
13) If you see Christ as more of a judge than a Savior.
14) If you believe God’s love for you depends on how much love you have shown Him.
15) If you know God’s law but not God Himself.
16) If you think you MUST take a Sabbath once a week.
So, how did you do? Did you find some of these comments describing you? Legalism has been a danger to the church from the very start. It is addressed in the New Testament repeatedly and the book of Galatians is written, almost entirely, to address this point.
We are all susceptible to legalism and we must ever guard ourselves against falling into this trap of wrong thinking. Wrong thinking produces wrong believing. Wrong believing, over time, creates a stronghold that the enemy can hide behind to maintain our deception. Make no mistake, legalism is deception.
We must all learn the difference between legalism and disciplined obedience. If we fall into condemnation when we miss the mark, we could be slipping into legalism. The only sure way to stay free from legalism is to pursue intimacy with God through prayer and His word. Having a growing healthy relationship with God is our best protection against any kind of deception.
Freedom from legalism will only come from a healthy relationship with our Father. The greatest thing Jesus did was restore our ability to come before God without guilt, condemnation, or shame. He changed our identity from sinners to sons and daughters.
God’s love is unconditional. Christ has redeemed us from every curse of the law. We are to live a life of the Spirit, laying down our lives daily and taking up God’s agenda, being an instrument of righteousness and an expression of His image….Just like Jesus. This is the path to freedom from legalistic thinking.
Some believers think that having a sin consciousness will help them avoid sin. If they think about their wrongdoing, feel the shame of it, and carry the guilt of it, then it will deter them from repeating those things. That is purely Legalistic. That didn’t even work in the Old Covenant. At best sin consciousness only leads to more sinning!
What we focus on we move towards. What we are conscious of, and what we think about, is the reality we create. No wonder we struggle so much with sin when our mind is constantly focused on it.
Why don’t we try focusing on righteousness? On Christ’s perfect gift of righteousness that He has imputed to us. When we focus on righteousness, grace comes on the scene and moves us towards right thinking, right believing, and right living. It builds faith and destroys the enemy’s strongholds.
Legalism produces sin consciousness. It is a result of having a law-based, legalistic mind. Romans 3 says that by the law is the knowledge of sin. When our mind is law based we will live sin conscious. The focus will be on our flesh, our ability, and our self. Being “self-focused” is in direct opposition to the love of God.
We can’t overcome sin this way? Grace is the answer! Grace is divine influence. As we focus on Christ we open the door for God to influence us. We place our hearts on the great potter’s wheel and He begins molding us and shaping us into His image. This is faith. This is how we walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. This is how we make a draw on His strength and ability Instead of struggling to overcome sin in our own strength.
We should focus on our relationship with Him, and practice spending time with Him. Focus filling our hearts and minds with the word of God.
He has forgiven all our sins, past present, and future. He has made us perfectly righteous with His own righteousness and no sin can make us unrighteous. He has brought us completely out of a law-based relationship with Him and into a grace-based relationship. His love and acceptance of us are not based on our performance but on Christ’s perfect performance on our behalf. We have a new nature, God’s very own nature. We are sons, not sinners. Our consciousness of Him, and His righteousness in us, will grow to a place that crushes our consciousness of sin and delivers us from legalistic thinking.
Our focus should always be on our relationship, not our works. A robust and healthy relationship with the Lord produces the fruit of holiness in our lives without us struggling to produce it in our own efforts. Romans 6 says that we have been set free from sin and made righteous in God’s sight. If we can believe that truth it will produce the fruit of holiness.
Romans 6:18-22 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
If we have truly been forgiven, then we should wake up every morning and live forgiven! If we can learn to make that one adjustment, we will flourish in the Kingdom of God and become everything Jesus paid for.
Thank you for visiting Truth Pressure Ministries. I hope this has been a blessing to you.