February 27, 2012

Legalism Hurts Your Heart

Legalism: Believing one can earn the approval of God through good works. 

This morning I woke up with a heavy heart. I'm not praying enough. I'm not working hard enough. I'm not involved enough in my church. I'm not listening enough. I'm not present enough for others. I'm not spiritual enough. I don't have enough directions/goals/dreams/faith/friends, I'm not brave enough... blah, blah, blah. You get the picture. Basically: I'm just not good enough. For myself, for others, and for God. Not a good way to wake up. Coffee won't even fix that. This is usually where either my whole try-harder attitude begins to kick in and I rung myself ragged trying to be more productive, or I just get depressed and stay that way for the day.

It all reminded me just how important it is to constantly be focused on grace. All. The. Time. Sometimes we're really good at being gracious towards those around us but not ourselves. We push ourselves to preform more, even for the sake of getting God's approval. We act out of legalism.

Legalism always reveals that your heart is not in right relation with the Creator. It reveals you've forgotten or misunderstood the gift of grace that's been bestowed upon you. It reveals that you and I have lost sight of all we've been forgiven of. So much so that we withhold grace and forgiveness from not only ourselves, but we withhold it from others as well. It reveals we're not believing in the gospel. And it hardens and damages our hearts. Legalism always drives us away from Christ, not towards Him.

C.J Mahaney points out 8 evidences that show us when we're acting out of legalism:
  1. You are more aware of and effected by your past sins than the finished work of Christ.
  2. You are more aware of areas you need to grow in than the finished work of Christ. In other words, you figure that if you can just spin enough "discs" (Bible reading, prayer life, meditation, family worship, serving others, church ministry) on your fingers then you’re more accepted with God.
  3. You live thinking, believing, and feeling that God is disappointed with you.
  4. You assume His acceptance is dependent upon your obedience.
  5. You experience regular condemnation.
  6. Your sin in the morning ruins/condemns everything you might seek to do for the Lord that day.
  7. You have an undue concern of what others think about you. For example, someone confesses sin in a small group, and though you struggle with the very same sin, you remain quiet.
  8. You lack joy. You think that joy in the Christian life is based on your worthiness rather than the finished work of Christ. 
Let's not live out of legalism today. Let's live out the grace given to us. If you need more encouragement take the time to listen to this.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. -2Cor. 5:21
**C.J. Mahaney points via Grace Covers Me


  1. important topic. Needed definitely to be said and explained...amen!

  2. Wow. definitely needed to read this! Thanks girl.

  3. Great post, and something I definitely needed to hear. Thank you!

  4. I also needed this. I was struggling with grace a few days ago and I'm still recovering :)

  5. I needed this too. I was struggling with grace a few days ago and I'm still recovering.

  6. Beautiful post; thanks for sharing this blessing today Natalie.

    Love you, lady!

  7. This was a great reminder - both of how far God has brought me, and how far I have left to go.

  8. I think everyone thinks/struggles with these things, Natalie (i.e., not praying enough, reading the bible). I know I do.


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