How Would I Know?
Maybe the best way to know if you’re a legalist is to ask someone who will tell you the truth. The problem with that is that most legalists come from a legalistic, fortress church culture that is dedicated to sameness and hiddenness and discourages honesty.
The two most distinguishing characteristics of a legalist are that they use the wrong source of authority (tradition rather than the Bible) and the wrong definition of righteousness (outside-in rather than inside-out).
One indicator would be to read the last few blogs on this site. If they upset you or make you angry, you probably are a legalist. Another way to self-identify your legalistic tendencies is to ask yourself, “Am I more preoccupied with the faults, failures, and sins of others than my own?” If you are, you’re at least sliding towards legalism.
Why should I care?
You should care because you are headed for serious spiritual disaster. Legalism doesn’t work. Read Colossians 2:23! All that religious stuff you’re into is impressive to church people, but it has NO POWER AGAINST THE FLESH!
You’re running headlong into a cul-de-sac of hiddenness and hypocrisy. Get out of it as fast as you can. You’re not becoming more holy; you’re becoming less holy. You’re not pleasing Jesus; you’re displeasing Him.
Only you can decide to live so that you please Jesus instead of your religious friends. You can’t have both.
What should I do?
Read Galatians. Over and over again. Read it in several different versions–a good paraphrase (The Message), a good word-for-word translation (NKJV), and the NIV. If, after reading Galatians, you still want to be a legalist, or you still think I’m wrong and your religious friends are right. Write me.