Friday, July 09, 2010

Marks of Legalism

From Blog10

Here are two different lists of marks of legalism.

Legalism can show any of the following signs:
1. Judgmentalism. We're to stand our ground against that judgment.
2. Works-based salvation.
3. Man-centered sanctification, instead of Christ-centered sanctification.
4. Religion that's rules-centered instead of relationship-centered.
5. Religion that's proud, self-congratulatory, feeling superior.
6. Religion that substitutes personal standards for divine truth, and then judges others by those standards.
7. A monastic approach to the world, thinking that we can become holy if only we can withdraw from the world.

Here's a list of marks of legalism from Pastor Richard Caldwell, Jr.

A person or a church or a movement may be legalistic if it's...
1. Centered on man, not on God.
2. Based on rules, not relationships.
3. Substituting personal standards for divine truth, and then judging others by those standards.
4. Desiring monasticism (wanting to withdraw from the world instead of being a light to the world).
5. Wanting men's praise instead of God's praise.
6. Showing false humility.
7. Rebellious toward truth.
8. Exercising authority without humility.
9. Unable to distinguish between dead orthodoxy and living orthodoxy.

Legalism teaches either works-based salvation or man-centered sanctification, instead of Christ-centered sanctification.

The sermon from which I drew the second list is available for free download from the media ministry of, via Sermon Audio.

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.
(Colossians 2:16 ESV)


Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Both lists are good and essentially correct, but both are listing monasticism as a sign of legalism, which can be a form of legalistic religion, but does not have to be. In fact in Orthodox Christianity, monastics are often the prophetic non-conformists when the Church is drifting into secularism and ceremonial and away from the gospel.

I am a white monastic (I don't wear any distinctive garb) and I withdraw from the world only in the sense that I don't live in the world but instead live in the Word. To be a monastic, for us (Orthodox Christians) means to follow Jesus first, regardless of the consequences, and what people see as the externals (for the black monastics, their garb, their living circumstances, etc.) are only that—externals.

The most dreadfully legalistic and the most liberatingly unlegalistic Christians I have known in my life have been monastics. As a sinner saved by grace and relying on nothing of my own, I hope my monastic lifestyle will not be a stumblingblock to myself or anyone else, and that I will enter paradise still clothed in the white robe of Jesus Christ.

Jim Swindle said...

Thank you, brother, for the interesting comment. Your definition of "white monasticism" sounds like mere Christianity. I'm still very uneasy with what you call "black monasticism," though I'm confident that some such monastics have been real, holy Christians. In scripture, going away from the world to the wilderness to be with the Lord appears to be a temporary thing, not a permanent lifestyle.