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8 Signs You Love Legalism More Than Jesus

Should you fear God? Absolutely. He’s infinitely powerful. But when you truly fear God, you don’t cower or run away. You draw near. As you draw near to God, terror turns to wonder, fear turns to love, shame turns to forgiveness and doubt turns to acceptance.

3) The world’s injustices aren’t important to you.

It’s not possible to draw near to God without developing a heart for injustice and oppression. Justice is central to God’s character.

Even the commands of God reveal something deeper about his heart for justice. Here’s what Jesus says:

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and Pharisees. For you are careful to tithe…but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy and faith” (Matt. 23:23).

It was never about following rules. It was always about something more. It was about justice, mercy and faithfulness.

But legalism says doing the right thing is the weightiest matter. Don’t curse. Come to church every Sunday. Don’t drink or smoke. And don’t have sex before marriage.

So, this is where legalists focus their energy. It’s behavior modification, and simply following commands doesn’t create Christ-followers. It creates Pharisees.

Where you have Christians apathetic about justice and oppression, unconcerned about widows, orphans, oppression and brokenness, you can be sure legalism has drowned out the voice of God. You can be sure following commands has become the weightiest matter. And you can be sure God, like Jesus, won’t allow it to go unchecked.

4) You compare your righteousness to other Christians.

Legalism rarely celebrates others’ successes. It says heaven is a fixed space, and only the best get in. Life’s a competition. Second place is the first loser.

With legalism, Jesus isn’t the standard. The standard is the Christian beside you. As long as your life looks better than Jim or Jill, you’re good.

Except you’re not.

When you make heaven a competition with other Christians, you secretly hope people fail. Rather than walking with people through struggles, you give yourself a silent fist pump. Instead of celebrating with people who accomplish great things, you silently hope they fall down.