Today I’m concluding the 3 part series, You might be a legalistic believer if… The first 2 points were…
1) Your spiritual discipline defines your spirituality and how you feel about your spiritual condition.
2) You really don’t know the Lord (on your own) but know Him through the system.
Let me get to the core of what makes a legalistic Christian.
Legalism is the combination of performance, fear, and condemnation in an effort to please God or please church leadership. (A child can also exhibit these traits in order to please a legalistic parent)
A legalistic believer is focused on actions and how they present themselves, tying these things to the belief God is more pleased with them or more inclined to answer their prayers. If you’ve had an urgent prayer request and attended a service you would not normally attend in the hope God will see your extra effort or to remind Him a deadline looms, you are in legalism.
Another example would be if you believe financial blessing is a sign of God’s personal stamp of approval of your life, you are in legalism. If you’ve ever tried to buy answered prayer by tying x amount of giving to a healing, the saving of a loved one, and so on…you are in legalism. The Father relates to us through the blood of Jesus and the fact we were both born into and adopted into His family by the blood of Jesus – not by how many spiritual hoops we form of our own doing to jump through.
Legalism causes a person to produce a false identity. They live a facade in public but are often different at home, often trying to make up for the difference between what they believe in their legalism, and the reality of their life. They compensate for the difference by becoming judgmental, condescending, and measuring others by their own standards of what they feel is right or wrong.
Point #3 is therefore: You feel spiritually safe if you focus on just 1 spiritual teaching or discipline at a time.
A person who is unable to simply walk with the Father in conversational ease based on Christ in them, and cannot read or listen to a variety of teachings and beliefs from different sources because they feel threatened by anyone outside of their current focus, might be legalistic. Legalism is intolerant of those who believe differently than they do, and if they can’t be won over to their side – they drop the relationship. (Legalism causes anger and these people are generally angry and/or unhappy down deep inside, but well protected in their heart)
They can’t see the whole counsel of God in part out of fear they are missing the latest thing heaven is saying, or they feel they alone have a revelation- they fear ‘missing it’. Covered in a facade of spiritual knowledge and growth, they are actually motivated by fear of the unknown – and being legalistic helps them pin down all those unknowns. They can’t just walk with the Father and trust His peace in their spirit – they are driven by fear wrapped in spirituality.
Point #4: You might be a legalistic believer if…You separate your natural life from your spiritual life
This is a person who only lets their spirituality be seen to those who believe as they do, or to those they think should believe as they- who they try to correct not meekly as scripture says, but as a know-it-all, as one in authority. Often they have been rejected by others and so keep quiet because they know if they tell what they believe it will be rejected, so like a hawk looking for prey, they hold to themselves until they find a weaker person.
They often feel it is them and God against the world, constantly threatened and they must protect what they believe from others – they have light, they know the higher way and how others may approach God and a holy life.
This leads to point #5: You are all alone because you’ve shut out everyone due to their imperfections, sins, and doctrinal error. Often they have no best friend, and can’t share their beliefs with their spouse.
Surrounded by people, they are alone. Think about the Pharisee’s and Jesus – their demand for perfection in others’ lives while living a double standard and not holding themselves to the same standard (though they argued to Jesus they were in fact holding themselves to those same standards, but they couldn’t see their own hypocrisy) – meant they were all alone in their little group.
It is this isolationism that is worst part of legalism I think. People cover their loneliness by being active in their cause, or in social media (or combine the 2 efforts), but in their heart of hearts, they are lonely and they know it. Cut off social media, church if they attend, and take away their Bible and stacks of notes, and they would have no walk with the Lord. They know Him through the framework of the temple they’ve built to Him, but don’t know He doesn’t inhabit their temple – He lives in them yet they are focused on all things ‘out there’.
How to walk with Him is next week. Also, I’m doing live teachings on Facebook now, which you can see (the first one 2 weeks ago) by looking me up and/or following what I post.