THE EVILS OF LEGALISTIC RELIGION
Legalism is natural to man. And even among those who know better, there is ever a tendency to return to the spirit of legalistic religion. Let us beware of the evils of legalism, and resist every tendency of the flesh to return to law religion.
1. The spirit of legalism CAUSES US TO SEEK ASSURANCE ON THE BASIS OF OUR OWN WORKS. Assurance that is based on works is false assurance. The believer's assurance is in the person and work of Christ alone. Trusting him, we have assurance.
2. The spirit of legalism CAUSES US TO NEGLECT OUR DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES BECAUSE OF OUR PERSONAL FEELINGS OF INADEQUACY AND INSUFFICIENCY. Many refuse to receive the Lord's Table, as he has commanded us, because they feel unworthy. Many refuse to exercise gifts God has given them to preach, teach, lead the congregation in prayer, or sing, because they do not feel worthy. Who is worthy of such things? No man is in himself. But our worthiness and sufficiency is in Christ.
3. The spirit of legalism CAUSES MEN TO MOTIVATE GOD'S PEOPLE WITH THREATS OF PUNISHMENT AND PROMISES OF REWARD. We see people beginning to neglect church attendance, fall off in their giving, and neglecting other matters of personal responsibility, so we begin to scold them and warn them that they are in danger of being lost. Then those men and women begin to do those things they had previously neglected, not because they love Christ, but out of a sense of duty to prove they are saved. Is this not pure legalism?
4. The spirit of legalism CAUSES US TO SET UP RULES OF LIFE FOR GOD'S PEOPLE WHICH GOD HAS NOT GIVEN IN HIS WORD. It is the height of self-righteousness and pride for men and churches to add to the Word of God rules of life, "acceptable Christian behavior", for men and women who belong to God.
5. The spirit of legalism CAUSES US TO SET OURSELVES UP AS JUDGES OF GOD'S SAINTS. Legalism produces such monstrous pride in men that they judge God's people by the inch long yard-stick of their own supposed "holiness". May God save us from this spirit of legalism.