Crumbs for The Thin Line Between Legalism and Immorality


Happy woman with opened arms outdoors enjoy her freedom

Legalism is an attempt to gain favor with God or to impress our fellow man by doing certain things (or avoiding other things), without regard to the condition of our hearts before God.” Steven J. Cole

                     error     “Even true believers can be legalistic. We are instructed, rather, to be gracious to one another . . . Sadly, there are those who feel so strongly about non-essential doctrines that they will run others out of their fellowship, not even allowing the expression of another viewpoint. That, too, is legalism. Many legalistic believers today make the error of demanding unqualified adherence to their own biblical interpretations and even to their own traditions. For example, there are those who feel that to be spiritual one must simply avoid tobacco, alcoholic beverages, dancing, movies, etc. The truth is that avoiding these things is no guarantee of spirituality.”


The challenge for people today—and it is not an easy one—is to maintain high personal standards even while feeling that one is living in a moral sewer.” Nathaniel Branden

How exactly does one obey the Gospel and keep obeying it? The answer is by trusting Christ to live the Christian life through them by the gift of the Holy Spirit that was given to us at salvation. He is indeed “the author and finisher of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2 faithAccept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” Romans 14:1

                                family      “In many well-meaning but legalistic Christian homes, parents mistakenly think that the way to keep their teenagers in line is to lay down and enforce a lot of rules. But the way to keep your teenagers in line is to lead them to a personal knowledge of the Holy One. He’s with them when you cannot be there. If they truly know Him and know the great love of Christ who gave Himself for their sins, they will want to please Him, beginning on the heart level. As our kids grow in their walk with God, we should be able to ease up on the number of rules, not impose more. Our goal is to get each child to live under the lordship of Jesus Christ, in a growing personal relationship with Him. Legalism takes an external approach; biblical Christianity focuses on the heart relationship.” Steven J. Cole

True Christianity is to manifest genuinely Christ-like behavior by dependence on the working of the Spirit of God within, motivated by a love for the glory and honor of God.” Ray C. Stedman

Holy Spirit Work

A testimony by Steve Reynolds Confessions of a Recovering Legalist: “When I was steeped in legalism, struggling was a way of life for me. I was extremely critical of myself and others, and I just could not seem to help myself. I remember telling this to a trusted counselor, and he told me, “You’ve got to learn how to apply grace in your life.” Well, I didn’t know about all this namby-pamby grace and love stuff (To be honest we legalists often begin to squirm in our seats when people talk about God’s love too much). It all smacked of liberalism to me, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted any part of it. Thank God he opened my eyes enough that I took a chance on living by grace. I haven’t been the same since I took that first step!

When I first discovered living the Christian life by grace through faith, it was like a door opened and I began to see the world through different eyes — eyes full of child-like wonder and awe. Every song that I heard was God’s sonnet of love written to me. Every breeze that I felt on my face was him gently caressing the skin of his beloved child. Every moment of every day began to take on purpose and meaning, and God began to speak to me in ways that he never had before.”

grace 2

Grace is not an excuse to sin but an enabling not to sin. Legalism is sin because it exalts self and rejects grace. Let us be those who exalt Christ, who receive His grace by faith, and who walk in victory and holiness not by the power of our feeble, fallible flesh but by the power of the resurrected Christ living out His life, will, and ways within us.” Relevant Bible Teaching

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” John 1:17

               truth shall set you free      “Remember, Jesus hates legalism because it does not deal with the condition of our sinful hearts before God. But Jesus loves grace, because it is by His grace that He transforms sinners into saints who love God and who love others.”                Steven J. Cole

                   opportunity         “We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. II Corinthians 6:6 NLT

change of heart

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6 NLT

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 NLT


Words to live by, aren’t they? Which of these words of wisdom touch your mind and heart more than any other? Leave a comment.

5 Responses to “Crumbs for The Thin Line Between Legalism and Immorality”
  1. Mary Beth says:

    Thanks for imparting such words of wisdom and sharing the insight the Lord has given you through the blog and the crumbs. Such important and relevant words for us today. What freedom to realize we can’t be Christlike by keeping a bunch of rules but rather by simply keeping our eyes on Him and allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work, love you!

  2. Ursula McClary says:

    Thank you you so much for posting this.This article really brought things into a tearful and repentive perspective.I found myself with judgemental thoughts towards people in the body of Christ,because of them living out something ,that I was convicted by.I knew my heart was not right before God. Knowing, I myself fall short in too many areas made things even worse.What if I would do everything right,then I would justify myself by my good works and Gods grace could not be extended to me.Which would mean I am self-righteous and lost.Mercy Jesus….It is by grace that we are saved not through our works.Lord forgive us and help us love others as you loved us!!

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