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Top 10 Differences between Liberty and Legalism

Top 10 Differences between Liberty and Legalism

Legalism: [lee-guh-liz-uhm] Strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law.

Breaking the Bonds of Legalism

bonds of legalismI’m reading  Breaking the Bondage of Legalism: When Trying Harder Isn’t Enough by Neil T. Anderson, Rich Miller, Paul Travis. Here are a few excerpts from the book:

“I was a legalist, spiritual performer,driven to work hard for God. I had to do right, look right, the right—only then did I believe I would be right.” –author Paul Travis

  • The bondage that results from legalism—shame, guilt, pride, a critical and controlling spirit.
  • The path of hope and liberation—knowing who you are in Christ, the true understanding of grace.
  • The life you can now live in Him—joyful intimacy with God your father and Jesus your friend

I love this chart from the book contrasting legalism with liberty.

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“The curious thing about legalism is that you might look at a legalist and a person walking in grace and at times not be  able to tell them apart. They could very well be doing the same exact things. The difference lies not on the outside but on the inside, in the realm of motivation. Why is he or she doing it? A person is a legalist, therefore, not necessarily because of what they do or do not do, but because of why they do or don’t do it.http://heartofwisdom.com/images/blog/400grace.jpg

How you know this is true of you? One way is to ask yourself this: How do you react if you don’t do the things you feel you should do? Do you feel condemned? Are you driven to redouble your efforts in order to do better “next time”? Do you tend to evaluate your spirituality by how regularly you are keeping up or measuring up to certain standards?  Do you feel like God loves you more when you perform certain Christian practices? Do you feel  a disheartening sense of disapproval from Him when you don’t?

The apostle Paul wrote; “Therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.”

God the Father delights in our presence and deeply enjoys having fellowship with us. We are His precious children—and He wants us to come to Him out of love and desire, not out of obligation or duty.   But when our lives become predominantly an exercise in trying to do good works in the desperate hope of somehow pleasing God, something is very wrong.”

But now I delight in my Father because I see how futile my own efforts are and how wonderfully satisfied the Father is with His Son’s life and because of His son, I can rest in Him. How about you? Do you feel like God loves you more when you perform certain Christian practices? Do you feel a disheartening sense of disapproval from Him when you don’t? Do you tend to evaluate your spirituality by how regularly you are keeping up or measuring up to certain standards?

matthew23-26

Obeying God is Not Legalism!

law_never_saves2Let me be clear that obedience is not legalism.  A Christian obeys God because he loves God.  God’s word says:

  • Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. Romans 13:1-5
  • For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. Romans 2:13
  • Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:13-17
  • Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21
  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
  • Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. Galatians 3:21
  • Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” Galatians 3:11
  • “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. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-19
  • Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him…1 John 2:4
  • Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. Romans 3:31

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How about you? Do you feel like God loves you more when you perform certain Christian practices? Do you feel a disheartening sense of disapproval from Him when you don’t? Do you tend to evaluate your spirituality by how regularly you are keeping up or measuring up to certain standards?

Lord, forgive us for getting caught up in legalism and outward things that draw us away from You. Create in us a pure heart. We know You alone can save us and You alone can change us. Forgive us for trying to replace You with a set of rules. Help us to live in the truth in Your Word.  You alone are Savior, deliverer and the One we can trust in.  In Your Christ’s precious name, Amen.

 

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About Robin Sampson

10 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this! I enjoyed reading it, and see areas where I need to take a deeper look at myself. HUGS!

  2. Thank you for this post! I have been struggling with this for some time now. Actually, GOD has been showing me that it is all about HIM and a relationship with HIM. HE just wants our hearts, and obedience to HIM, while not getting caught up in the traditions.

    I love Neal T. Anderson! I read his book, “Victory Over the Darkness”. It helped me in so many ways in healing from past strongholds.

    Again, thanks for the post! I will look into the book.

    Your sister in CHRIST,
    Donna

  3. Mrs. Hewett

    Robin,

    Thank you for sharing this. It was very convicting. I need to find a copy of that book somewhere, though I think it will hurt to read it. From the comparison chart you posted above, I’ve got some issues with legalism to deal with. Now, how to begin… Again, you share the truth with love and grace, and I am tremendously blessed.

    Mrs. H

    P.S. – Your new website header is very pretty! I love the soft blues and flowers!

  4. what a great post. I struggle with legalism. Sometimes I’ll feel I have won victory over it and then I look at myself once more and see it again. 😀 Thanks for that table. Maybe i’ll save it to my computer.

  5. I think we do this to ourselves when our focus is not on Christ and our relationship with Him. We develop tunnel vision on what’s ‘right to do’ and if everyone else is doing it too. C. D. Baker said this, “When we keep our eye on Jesus Right living happens” I have found myself with MANY of those characteristics in the past. When my righteousness becomes a requirement in order to serve the lord it’s easy to lose track of why we started serving God in the first place. Yet I understand needing to have a higher standard if you’re in a position of leadership, but it must be from the heart, not just because it’s required. I am interested in reading that book.

  6. Tamara Scire

    Robin,
    Thank you so much for sharing the “table” from the book. It puts everything so clearly. Oh, thank you Jesus you want FREEDOM for us. Let us not empty the cross of it’s power by human wisdom and the chains of legalism (I Cor. 1:17)!
    Blessings to you!

    Tamara Scire

  7. Excellent Robin. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    This was interesting: “The curious thing about legalism is that you might look at a legalist and a person walking in grace and at times not be able to tell them apart.

    We truly cannot judge a man’s heart. We will know him by his fruit, good or bad.

    I also appreciated the table you posted.

    blessings~

  8. LOVE THIS! Years ago I was steeped in legalism, and I guess I feel like I’m always trying to move past it. This helped show me that I have!!! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  9. Such a great reminder, Robin! I’m sharing this on my FB page!:o)

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