Legalism is a big problem today. We can see it in the guilt we carry around for our sins. We can see it in the rules and regulations we have amassed to obey. We can see it in our criticism of those who are less disciplined than we are. We can see it in our fear that living free of the law will lead us deep into sin. And we can see it in our fear that listening to God’s voice will turn us into raving lunatics.
The Bible describes those who are caught up in legalism as “estranged from Christ” and “fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4). Legalism causes a person to be “entangled again with a yoke of bondage”, and under it “Christ will profit you nothing” (Galatians 5:1-2). Legalism makes you “a debtor to keep the whole law” (Galatians 5:3). Legalism places you “under the curse” (Galatians 3:10). It makes you “foolish” and “bewitched” (Galatians 3:1). Legalism “cheat[s] you of your reward” (Colossians 2:18).
Given the weighty negative consequences of legalism, one might think the practice has few followers. But on the contrary, there are many among us who practice legalism. And many of those who practice legalism compel us to practice legalism with them. The sad thing is that many Christians are suffering the curses of legalism, and they are not aware that legalism is the cause of their suffering.
The key to overcoming legalism is for a Christian to accept the righteousness that he possesses in Christ instead of trying to create his own righteousness through obeying the law. After I finish the series on hearing God’s voice, I will turn my attention to helping Christians overcome legalism. Stay tuned…