3 Signs You’re Living in Legalism

God created man with the intent to welcome us into relationship with Him. Genesis 3:8 makes it clear God walked, in some form, in the Garden, consistently revealing Himself uniquely to Adam before he sinned. Even after Adam and Eve disobeyed, God continued to commune with Adam, but the innocence of their relationship had been lost.

When we are less satisfied in Christ than we are when we meet our self-made standards, we are starting the gradual decent into a life of legalism.

Here are three ways to decipher if your faith is actually just rule following.

  1. Your obedience and communion with God lack a relational motive. Simply obeying God because it’s the right thing to do will never last long term. The purpose of obedience is for believers to live in a way that brings glory to God, while simultaneously finding satisfaction in Him. Sin hinders what God so desperately wants to share with us.
  2. You are motivated to “fix” your relationship with God after you sin. Our sin is a problem because of the damage and distance it creates in our communion with the Father. Whenever we fail, we believe we have somehow damaged God’s love for us. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and shame, the proper response to sin is to grieve the distance we put between ourselves and the Lord, and to run back into His loving embrace.
  3. You miss the purpose of Bible reading and prayer. The Bible and prayer are two gifts from God that enable us to build our relationship with Him. If you see the Bible simply as a book of doctrine and not also as a relational narrative, you will have dry times in Scripture. Likewise, if your prayers are the same as talking in organized code, it will become a burden to you.

Remember, God desires for you get to know more about Him and experience His love through relationship. Make sure you are pursuing a rich relationship with the Lord.



2 thoughts on “3 Signs You’re Living in Legalism”

  1. Regarding item #3, the most effective tool I’ve ever seen used to help develop a man’s daily devotion routine involves 3 simple steps. Step #1: Find a fellow believer or two and ask them to help you establish a more consistent, unrushed, daily devotion, Step #2: Once each of you complete your daily quite time, simply text the word “Amen” to the other guys in your small group, Step #3: If you don’t receive an “Amen” text from a group member for two or three consecutive days, contact him to see what’s up. I challenge anyone needing encouragement is this area to try this approach for two weeks. Not only will this method help you establish a daily quiet time, but it will also help you realize how important this discipline is for becoming a vibrant Christ-follower.


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