Text: Luke 6:1-11 | Listen to Message
7 Characteristics of a Legalist
- Legalism adds rules to God’s Word.
Legalists love rules. The more the merrier. And they don’t think the Bible says nearly enough to properly control people’s sinful behaviors. So they add more. Lots more. And then they pretend like their rules came from God Himself.
- Legalism is obsessed with keeping the letter of the law.
Who cares why the law was written in the first place? That’s an irrelevant footnote to what the law actually says. When in doubt, go with the most technically precise and restrictive meaning imaginable.
- Legalism exposes your failures in order to condemn you.
The legalists are watching you. Closely. It’s very important to catch you breaking the rules so that you can be reminded what a bad person you are. And what good people they are, by contrast.
- Legalism completely misses the purpose of the law.
God gave you the Law to show you what He’s like – and how life works in His world if you want to flourish. Somehow legalists have flipped that around so the Law crushes you and represents everything suffocating and dehumanizing in your life.
- Legalism is blindly hypocritical.
Jesus put it like this: legalism strains at gnats and swallows camels. It makes mountains out of mole hills and mole hills out of mountains. It says “your healing can wait until tomorrow” … while plotting the murder of the Messiah.
- Legalism is more concerned with who’s right than what’s right.
Legalism starts with the premise that I’m right – and to the degree that you agree with me, you can be right, too. You get a free pass if you’re in the right club. And you’re automatically wrong if you’re not.
- Legalism thinks people exist to serve the law.
Legalists believe rules are more important than people. The law was not made to guide you through life. You were made to obey the law. So get with it.
There’s got to be a better way than legalism – and there is! Read Part 2 about Jesus and the Law here.