10 More Signs We Are Living As A Legalist

This is a continuation of my last post

Legalism is a damaging man-made religion that draws us away from relying on Jesus’ work to relying on our own work. It is defined as an excessive and improper use of the Law, which occurs when we use the Law either to attain or maintain our salvation.

Using the Law to attain or maintain our salvation is not wise, nor good because all those who rely on the works of the law for salvation are under a curse and must keep all of them (Gal. 3:10; James 2:10). Of course, that is not something we can do because none of us are, nor will we ever be perfect.

While we may know the dangers of legalism, we may still find ourselves slipping into legalistic tendencies from time to time, which means it’s important we are aware of the signs that point to legalistic living.

10 More Signs We Are Living As A Legalist

(11) When life doesn’t go as planned we become angry, bitter, or even depressed – This happens because we believe God owes us for our good behavior. When God doesn’t deliver, our world is turned upside down.

(12) We are prejudiced or classist – When we are living as a legalistic, we feel superior to others because we think well of ourselves, believing that our class or ethnicity is superior and worthy of acceptance.

(13) We are prideful – Those who believe they are accepted by God because they are living up to their man-made standards often have an inflated view of self.

(14) We are insecure and never feel assured of our salvation – Those who believe they aren’t accepted by God because they aren’t living up to their man-made standards often fight insecurity, low self-esteem, and thoughts of self-loathing, as well as they never feel assured of their salvation.1

(15) We are not gracious or merciful to others – Because we haven’t experienced God’s grace and mercy, we find it difficult or even impossible to be gracious and merciful to others.

(16) We believe an unanswered prayer or something going wrong means we haven’t done enough for God – We believe God’s inactivity is punishment for our bad behavior.1

(17) Our prayer life is dry – Prayer is done strictly out of duty resulting in a lack of wonder, awe, intimacy, or delight in God when we meet with Him in prayer.1

(18) We obey out of fear instead of delight or gratitude – We don’t obey because we delight in the law, knowing it is what is best for us, or to please God out of gratitude, instead we obey out of fear of punishment.

(19) We believe we must work to pay Jesus back for our salvation – In some sense we believe Jesus changed our heart and desires when He saved us, but we miss the point of the change. We think it is so we can now work to pay Him back for our salvation.

(20) We fail to recognize we can never be perfect – Instead of resting in Jesus’ work for us, we work toward the unattainable, thinking one day we will reach perfection and thus acceptance with God.

Question for Reflection

  1. Does any of these signs resonate with you?


[1] Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God, 63-64


2 thoughts on “10 More Signs We Are Living As A Legalist

  1. Pingback: How to Break Free From Legalism | Christianity Matters

  2. Pingback: 10 Signs We Are Living As A Legalist | Christianity Matters

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