Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Dirty Word: Legalism

LEGALISM:  strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, especially to the letter rather than the spirit.

I took a roadtrip yesterday all by myself!  It was fantastic!  On the way, I was running through the radio stations, trying to stay awake and find something decent to listen to when I came across a sermon and was immediately drawn in.

I don't know who it was, or what radio station it was, but the message was so powerful, I couldn't keep from sharing it with you all.

The title was, Signs Legalism May Be Creeping In to Your Life (that's my paraphrase). 

The pastor broke the signs down but was very adamant that this is just a basic list and that there are many more signs we should be aware of.  He based this on the life of Abraham who was the exact OPPOSITE of legalistic.  He was a man who lived only by faith and was filled with the JOY of serving a loving God. 

1.) You care more about what people think than God.  Romans 4:14

2.) You are critical of others who's convictions aren't as strong as yours. 
       -This is especially true towards those who are "baby" Christians.  You see their faith as not as strong as yours and judge them for doing things you are convicted about.  It might just be that they aren't in the same place as you in their faith, not that they are purposely doing things they know are "wrong." 
      -This is true when you are critical of the way people talk, dress, look, etc...if it goes against what you think a Christian should look like and you perceive them a certain way because of that, you might be letting legalism creep in. 

3.) You lay heavy burdens on others.  Matthew 23 (specifically verse 4).  Go read Matthew and focus on the Pharisees and how they laid burdens on the people to live in a certain way, but were not willing to help the people in any way.  Basically, they spat out law, and sat back to watch the people fail because few could live with such heavy burdens towards keeping the law.

4.) You're getting good at seeing other people's sins...you're a SIN SNIFFER.

5.) You tend to be more black and white than those around you.  You have no gray area.  This doesn't have anything to do with the Bible or scripture.  The word of God is absolutely black and white.  But where we should have gray area is in the circumstances and situations of people.  When we begin to judge others without knowing their motivations or their circumstances, we move towards legalism, because this takes out the aspect of LOVE in our treatment of other people. 

6.) You are overly critical of someone else's sins

Here are a couple of others I found online:

-You revert back to the Old Testament except with a different set of rules.  (Galatians 3:1-3 and Galatians 4:9)
-You are blind to your own condition.  The Bible says legalists are spirtually blind.

Wow!  I don't know about you, but the Holy Spirit has put some serious conviction in my heart after hearing this. 
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