Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Find out if you are a legalist...

1. Have you ever felt pressured to hide your sin/s?

2. Do you act differently among believers and unbelievers?

3. Do you feel pressured to convert others into your beliefs?

4. Do you feel bad when you skip church on Sundays?

5. Do you have a perfectionist spirit?

6. Do you hate homosexuals?

7. Do you boast about your religion?

8. Do you feel guilty when you can't keep up your daily 'time with God'?

9. Have you ever got into a fight with your spouse/kids on Sunday morning for they being late for church?

10. Have you ever worried about the 'bad' things people may say during your funeral?

11. Do you think more about your church/ministry than God Himself?

12. Do you have a liking towards the preaching from the OT over the preaching from the NT?

13. Do you think that if you don't tithe, you may lose your favor with God?

14. Do you put pressure on your spouse/kids to keep/make things perfect all the time?

15. Do you feel pressured to convict others about why you believe what you believe?

16. Do you have a different face in church and home?

17. Have you ever felt guilty for not taking a particular ministry at church?

18. Do you have an accountability partner?

19. Have you ever thought that you can tame your fleshly desires and make God more happy?

20. Do you attend seminars like where they teach 'Christian principles'?

21. Have you ever felt pressured to save your pastor's face?

22. Though others think that you are very righteous and posses high moral values, have you ever wondered why you feel dirty inside?

23. Do you tell others that your religion is doing wonders in your life while in reality it's making you miserable?

24. Do you search Scriptures for do's and don'ts?

25. Are you easily angered when some one talk bad about your pastor/church/denomination/religion?

26. Do you teach your kids '10 commandments' and tell them that God get angry if they break one of them?

27. Do you feel any insecurity when you break one of your own do's or don'ts?

28. Do you think more about hell and demons than heaven and God?

29. Do you try hard to be 'good' to others?

30. Do you boast about your charities?

31. Do you believe that your church is the only true church?

32. Have you tried to memorize the sermon on the mount and other Scriptures which has either a 'do' or a 'don't'?

33. Do you believe that the salvation can be lost?

34. Do you always look for creative ways to hide your shortcomings from others?

35. Do you spend more time trying to clean up others from their sins than telling them about God's love?

36. Are you a believer that you have to keep confessing your sins to God in order to keep you forgiven?

37. Do you like Scriptures like 1 John 1:9 than Scriptures like Heb 10:10?

38. Do you believe that salvation itself is by grace, but sanctification is by 'works' (obedience to the law)?

39. When you visit a Christian book store, do you look for 'how to' books?

40. Do others think that you are good enough, but you feel deep inside that you are falling short?

41. Do you recite/ponder/quote verses like 'work out your salvation with fear and trembling' than other verses like 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'?

42. Do you particularly search for Scriptures which sound as if God's love is conditional?

43. Do you act as if you love sinners, but literally hate them?

44. Do you believe you will go 'out of fellowship' with God if you sin or don't do enough of the spiritual routines such as prayer, bible study, church attendance or 'quiet time with God'?

45. When you talk about list of sins, do you always talk about 'big' ones like adultery and ignore 'small' ones like selfishness, greediness, self-centeredness, pride, envy etc?

46. Have you ever felt that the more you put yourself under more strict laws/rules/principles, the more you are tempted to sin and preoccupied with sinful thoughts? But you still try to make it more stricter?

47. No matter how much you do the 'right' things and abstain from the 'wrong' things, do you still feel it isn't good enough?

48. Do you try to get a LIFE from the scriptures?

49. Do you participate in 'prayer chains' or 'fasting chains' and feel proud about it?

50. Do you show off your spirituality/religiosity?

51. Do you use prayer, fasting, worship, discipline, ministry, tithing, charity, obedience, righteous living etc as tools to please God and earn His favor?

52. Are you motivated/driven by fear rather than love when it comes to your religion/spirituality/relationships?

53. Do you tend to control/manipulate others, especially using fear-tactics?

54. Do you seek/desire after leadership positions at your church? Do you feel that you 'deserve' some positions?

55. Do you feel tempted to correct every false doctrines in the world? Do you spend more time telling others how their religion is wrong?

56. Do you feel proud when your pastor/leader publicly praise your ministerial works?

57. Do you seek to gain more (biblical) knowledge to attract attention of others?

58. Do you feel insecured if your belief/s is challenged and do you frantically look for scriptures to (somehow) defend your belief?

If you answered 'Yes' for at least one of these, you have legalistic traits; if you answered 'Yes' for more than one, you are a 'mild' legalist and the scale goes up to a hardcore Pharisee as the number of 'Yes''s goes up...

I just realized, on a 1 to 10 scale, I come somewhere in the middle :)

29 comments:

Socoteanu said...

Wow. Great Post. It definitely made me think about my actions and motives.

I do think that some of the statements may also reflect the heart of one that is seeking Christ.

In my mind, legalism is a heart issue. I think that it is heard to really describe what legalism looks like. It is conceivable to do alot of those things from genuine love and desire for Christ. Others are pretty obvious. They all made me think

lionwoman said...

Bino this is a great list. I have struggled with many of these especialy the church attendance and quiet time. I have purposely refused to have any structured quiet time for about a year and a half because I was so down from my failure to 'measure up.' Funny that's one of those popular phrases that's nowhere in the Bible.
I'll be pondering this list more...

Amy said...

Bino,
Great list! Caused me to take a look at myself. There were definitely some statements that "used to be," but some even that Papa is helping me deconstruct from, that I still sometimes carry out.

Ah...we are all works in progress.

Blessings,
~Amy :)

RJW said...

WOOHOO!!

Thought provoking, Bino! :)

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1.

Joel B. said...

I'm gonna get to work on all this after I confess all my sins and give 10% of my gross income (my income is so small, it really is gross) and go to church 4 times this week and...

Hey, looks like I'm already started! I hope I can maintain it all, because you're "legalist" club really sounds like something I ought to do.

JMBMOMMY said...

Interesting---I am all for not being legalistic but I think if one is not careful they will fall into their own form of "legalism" trying to follow all the "rules" of not being legalistic. I can't imagine thinking about all these things that you listed--enjoying Christ and the freedom He brings doesn't produce lists like this.

LovedMuch.com said...

Ouch.

Ike said...

Some people believe that, under grace, God's law no longer has the meaning of requirement but is an expression of His desire. They would readily say God "desires" that we be holy, but God does not "require" that we be holy. They maintain that we have been freed, not only from the curse and condemnation resulting from breaking the law, but also from the requirements of the law as a rule of life. They believe that to insist on obedience as a requirement for a Christian is to teach legalism instead of grace. In other words, to assign the concept of requirement to the will of God is legalism, but to assign the concept of desire to it is grace.

I believe such a view is a misunderstanding of grace. God's grace does not change the fundamental character of God's moral law. Rather, the grace of God provides for the forgiveness and acceptness of those who have broken the law. The good news of the gospel is that God has removed the guilt we incur by breaking His law and has bestowed on us the righteousness of Christ, who perfectly kept His law. Legalism does not consist in yielding obedience to the law. Rather, it is to seek justification and good standing with God through the merit of works done in obedience to the law-instead of by faith in Christ.

We need always keep in mind that God is not only our Savior and heavenly Father through Christ, but He is also still God, the supreme Ruler and moral Governor of His creation. The sons and daughters of a king are still under obligation to obey the laws their father has decreed for his realm, even though they are his children. They are no more exempt from the laws than any other citizen.

Even when the children of the king freely and willingly obey the laws, because they love their father and understand and agree with the laws he has pronounced, they are still subject to the laws of the realm. So we as God's children are subject to the laws of His realm. Out of a response to His grace, we should obey in a loving and grateful way. Because God has written His laws on our hearts, we will, as a rule, be in agreement with His law written in His word. But we are still to regard God's law as commands to be obeyed, not merely as expressions of His desires.

There is no question that obedience to God's commands promted by fear or merit-seeking is not true obedience. The only obedience acceptable to God is constrained and impelled by love, because "love is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:10). God's law as revealed in His Word prescribes our duty, but love provides the correct motive for obedience. We obey God's law, not to be loved, but because we are loved in Christ.

Ironically, the law of God, viewed as commands to be obeyed, should actually promote living by grace. When we view God's commands as optional-or think that as God's children we are no longer under the law as a moral requirement-we subtly slip into a works mentality. If obedience to God's law is optional, then in our minds we begin to accumulate merit or extra points. "After all, we didn't have to obey, so we must gain some merit by voluntary obedience."

But the person who knows that he is required to obey God's commands, even as a child of God, will see more and more how far short he comes in obedience. And if that person understands the biblical concept of grace, he will be driven more and more into the arms of the Savior and His merit alone.

Evangelist D. L. Moody is reported to have said something to this effect..."You've got to get people lost before you can get them saved." He was saying that only those who recognize they are lost will turn to the Savior. The Lord Jesus stated the same principle, "For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Matthew 9:13).

This principle applies to us even as believers living under grace. We don't have to get "lost" time and again, but we certainly need to be reminded that we are still sinners. The best way to do this is to take seriously the commands of God as a required rule of life. As we do, we will be continually reminded that we really are spiritually bankrupt-even as believers. And as redeemed sinners in a perpetual state of bankruptcy, we will come to appreciate more each day the superabounding grace of God.

So, then, God's law, as a rule of life, is not opposed to grace. Rather, used in the right sense, it is the handmaid of grace. Or, to use an anology, it is like a sheepdog that keeps driving us back into the fold of grace, when we stray out into the wilderness of works.

silent wings said...

hmmmm I will let Bino respond in full, as this is his blog, and I have no intention of beginning or being involved in any kind of debate on the comment board here but I have lived walking out Ike's summation of grace for the believer and feel compelled to declare "Oh but he grace of God is so much higher, wider and deeper!!" The latter only brought much sorrow and discouragment in my life rather than the peace and joy I am now coming to know.

With all respect, may I share my thoughts?

Ike you said:
"We don't have to get "lost" time and again, but we certainly need to be reminded that we are still sinners."

I ONCE was lost but NOW I am FOUND. I don't ever want to be lost again! The enemy of my soul always has and always will remind me of my sin, but I need to be reminded DAILY now as a believer that I am still righteouss, that I became a NEW creation in Christ and that hasn't changed. (2 Cor. 5:17-21, Rom. 6:6-72 )

"The best way to do this is to take seriously the commands of God as a required rule of life. As we do, we will be continually reminded that we really are spiritually bankrupt-even as believers"

Absolutely true, we will definetly be reminded of our failure and shortcomings this way. But I am no longer spirtually bankrupt. The FULLNESS of the godhead dwells in me. I am COMPLETE in Him. Jesus said that He came that we might have LIFE and life to the FULL. There is nothing lacking anymore. The law does not bring life, but condemnation and death. And it is not a source of help for victory, only Jesus is. (Eph. 1:3, Col. 2)

"And as redeemed sinners in a perpetual state of bankruptcy, we will come to appreciate more each day the superabounding grace of God."

I appreciate the grace of God when I stumble because I am ever aware that His wonderful love and mercy has triumphed over judgement and I appreciate it when I walk victoriously because it is not I that lives out such obedience, but Christ's life in me.

"So, then, God's law, as a rule of life, is not opposed to grace. Rather, used in the right sense, it is the handmaid of grace. Or, to use an anology, it is like a sheepdog that keeps driving us back into the fold of grace, when we stray out into the wilderness of works."

The law is not opposed to grace. It is a handmaid indeed, BUT FOR THE UNBELIEVER. I believe it IS opposed to grace for the believer. To continue on with the law would be to allow the law to be my mistress. No, I have died to the law. I have been joined to Christ. I am one with Him now. He is my righteousness now. (Rom. 6:8-14, 7:4-6, 1 John 16:17 )

LovedMuch.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LovedMuch.com said...

In the words of Baba, ala The Kite Runner... "All this talk about sin has made me thirsty again" !! LOL

RJW said...

The law is effectual ONLY in the life of the unbeliever for its ONLY purpose is to bring about repentence. What relevance is the law to those who ARE DEAD TO IT?

Bino M. said...

silent wings,

You saved me! :)

I think you and I are coming from the same premise. Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts. I truly appreciate it.

Ike,

Apart from what 'silent wings' already said, I have nothing much to add except just one thing (but it's a big thing :)).

the strength (power) of sin is the law - 1 Corinthians 15:56

That is the problem of the law. That's exactly why we feel miserable (and end up sinning more) when we try to reach/keep God's moral standards through the obedience to the law.

A story

I will use a simple example, Lets say my favorite food in the world is chocolate icecream. I love eating it and I can see the effect on my waistline... At last I come to a point that there aren't any pants which fits me. So as part of being self controlled, one morning I took a very difficult decision to not to eat chocolate ice cream anymore. Remember, I used to eat at least two cups of chocolate ice cream EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I felt good about the decision after taking it. I contemplated a lot about taking this decision in the previous night, so after finally taking that decision, I felt so good and relieved. I even wrote it down on paper and signed it along with my wife. She is kind of my accountability partner. The ice cream remained in the freezer, we threw it in the dumpster without a second thought.

As usually, I got ready to go to work. I am driving my car to office and part of me is already thinking about the seducing taste of chocolate icecream and part of me is thinking and feeling good that I made a decision to avoid it. Simultaneously I am praying to God to give me enough strength to stay on my promise (because I already had a feeling that I am losing my strength).

I reached office, still thinking about chocolate icecream. The breakfast I ate that day already digested by 11.00 and I started feeling little hungry and this sweet aroma of choclate icecream is all over my body. I am drooling and craving. But at the same time I remind myself about the paper I singed in the morning.

As it approached the lunch time, the thought came to my mind what if I just sneak out to the nearby ice cream store and eat some chocolate icecream, no one would know! My wife wouldn't know. And the people at the store don't know about my morning decision anyways. But still I am reminding myself about the promise.

The more I thought about that stupid paper I singed in the morning, the more I want to eat chocolate icecrream. I don't know why! I am literally craving for chocolate icecream. I find myself being preoccupied and obsessed with chocolate icecream.

Finally, as we approached the lunch break, I decided to give up my 'self control'. I literally RAN to my car and rushed to the ice cream store, I was feeling that I am blind and I didn't really care who is watching. All I cared was I wanted to just feast on chocolate icecream and I did!

Guess what? After the feast is over and I can't literally move I am feeling miserable in two ways - I broke the promise and I also overate.

Of course I didn't tell my wife about this. She even asked but I said, I didn't even feel like eating chocolate icecream. Now I am feeling more miserable that lied to my wife...

The moral of the story

Do you see my point here? The law made me sin more!!!

I will never, ever put myself under law. It can ONLY do harm. That is just the way our flesh is. God is not surprised about this behavior because law was NEVER meant to be obeyed in the first place. It was there to make us miserable and thereby lead us to the glorious, majestic, awesome, FREE righteousness of Christ Jesus! (Did I say FREE?)

So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. - Galatians 3:24

Once we are in Christ, it's purpose is OVER and then, just as we are justified by FAITH, we live by FAITH...

The righteous shall live by faith, NOT by law!

Joel B. said...

Ike,

What Jesus did for us is so much greater than what I see you writing here. Under the Old Covenant, the blood of bulls and goats was shed, but as the book of Hebrews said, all that did was to provide a yearly reminder of sin! The blood of bulls and goats could not do one particular certain thing that needed to be done... and God did it by sending His Son. "For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins" (Heb 10:4).

What God did through Jesus was to take away sin! He didn't just cover it or atone for it. He took it away! When we were dead in our trespasses, God made us alive together with Him!!! What we need is not a reminder of our sins to help us appreciate God's grace all the more. What we need is a constant reminder of the righteousness of God that we are and of the life of Christ that permanently dwells in us!!! If that doesn't make us appreciate His grace, I don't know what will!

Bino M. said...

I think lovedmuch.com, RJW, Joel and I were typing the comments about the same time :) I just saw it after I posted mine.

Thanks you all! You guys made it much simpler than I did!

Socoteanu said...

Ike, I don't know you, but I love you man. I knew this was not going to go over well for you.

I understand where you are coming from. I think it is very hard to let go of the law. What I have come to realize is that the law has completed it's purpose in our lives as believers. It has convicted me of my sinfulness, and I have accepted the remedy for it. It's gone. Finished. There is no reason for me to focus on it. Don't get me wrong, there are alot of great things in the law. Things that the Spirit may lead me to do or not do. BUT, using the law as our guide/model is trying to live out of my former flesh. The flesh that died on the Cross of Christ. The one that failed me my entire life. Thankfully, I have a new life through the blood and Spirit of Christ and it is so much more freeing to choose that than to choose the bondage of the old law.

I did struggle with Bino's post, however. I don't think that freedom in Christ means that we don't have to do anything. I think that the Spirit leads us into obedience. BUT, that obedience is not based on the old standard of rules/regulations. It is based on a relationship with the maker of the old standard. It is based on the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. No one can tell me or you what type of obedience the spirit is leading them to. I think that the reason Bino's post is a struggle for me is that several of the items on the list are places where the Spirit has lead me. (being good to others, accountability partners, etc)

We cannot discount the teachings in the Bible on obedience. However, that obedience is not to the old standard which I am dead to. It is to my new standard that is within me.

Hope that makes some sense.

RJW said...

Socoteanu,

Just curious?? What is the purpose of an "accountability" partner?? I am most interested to know the theory behind the practice. Are you confessing your sins? Holding yourself and each other accountable for your performance? Is there some moral measuring stick, the Christ-life, that you hold up to yourself?

I am not making fun; I am not familiar with this practice.

But I will say the name suggests a focus on the flesh. Our measurung stick is the cross. Thank goodness, we died there!! So are you then holding the Holy Spirit accountable for your actions?? And, finally, if sin was put to death in Christ, do you think God recognizes sin in an eternal way or life and death? Sure, sin, acts of independence, affect human relationships but do you think what you do is more more relevant to God than the cross??? Sin became a NON-ISSUE when Jesus died AS SIN. Why do we insist on living out of a sin-consciousness??

LovedMuch.com said...

Accountability partners are essential in making sure one has the correct mixture of grace and law. That should be obvious. (lol)

Leonard said...

Bino, its Leonard your neighbor alittle bit north of ya, say ya know it's been pretty cold here in Michigan so I was just wondering, Exactly where is that dumpster you put the chocolate ice-cream, located...

Also great post and conversation here, Thanks Bro.
Best
Leonard

Socoteanu said...

RJW,

No offense taken. I guess the name is misleading. I guess for some people it may represent a big flesh analysis session. For me it is about walking the Christ-life together. Believers were never meant to be issolated and to live this life alone. We are called to fellowship. Paul did it before he went into the ministry. Timothy was mentored by Paul. It's about getting together with another believer and helping each other live the life that Christ intends for us. It is not about "confessing shortcomings or improving our performance". the focus is not the flesh but learning to live out of the Spirit moment by moment.

Not trying to fix the sin-consciousness but learning to live int eh Christ-consciousness.

Bino M. said...

Leonard,

I expected you to draw great spiritual truths from my story and you are asking where is the dumpster? lol!

Socoteanu,

Thank you for sharing!

Few things:

I think that the reason Bino's post is a struggle for me is that several of the items on the list are places where the Spirit has lead me. (being good to others, accountability partners, etc)

Spirit would certainly lead us to being good to others and we would be able to be good to others without struggle because we know deep in our heart that we have been perfectly accepted and forgiven by God through Christ Jesus and now as He works through us, the result would be great.

In other words, we can only give others what have have received from God (or what we know what we have received) in the first place. So, as we become more aware of the great love He has bestowed upon us (through renewing of our mind), we WILL love others more. That is a natural result. But the key here is, we wouldn't struggle to love!

The concept of 'accountability partners' is often used in religious circles to keep a 'check' on others. The root of this idea is fear and control.

People are sacred of freedom! I mean, true, total freedom. Most of them need a constant dose of fear to keep them 'straight'. But the truth is, we CAN be TOTALLY free.

If you are using that term to refer to true fellowship with other believers, I am all for it. But more often that term is not used to mean just fellowship (at least that what I have seen)

Again, thank you so much for sharing! Feel free to disagree because usually when people choose not to say 'Amen' to everything others are saying, it will trigger great conversations like this and we all can mutually benefit from it.

Much grace and love!

RJW said...

If you are encouraging each other in Grace, I think that's swell. I think I would call them my "identity confirmer"!! LOL! I'm not sure how "accountability" fits into your scenario...

BTW, how do you deal with "missing the mark" of your new nature in your New Creation life?? Truthfully, I am getting tired of the phrase "missing the mark" myself because I think people get the impression that we are to "aim" at some standard of behavior. When it REALLY means simply not living out of our new nature. Hmmmmm...anyway I hope this accountablity thing isn't implying confession, forgiveness, etc. Talk about beating a dead horse!! Imagine God throwing up His hands saying, "What ARE they talking about?" :)

Socoteanu said...

Bino & RJW,

Would it make it more acceptable of a concept to call it a "grace partner" rather than accountability?? :)

For me, the person that I started meeting with was the one that really helped me realize the importance of Grace and to understand my freedom in Christ. I was stuck in teh cycle of failure, guilt, and condemnation for my short-comings. It was liberating for me.

I really did not mean to focus on one particular item on the list....just to say that (for me) there are many items on that list that would flow out of the spirit-led-life and not be a sign of legalism.

I also like discussion. Discussion is good. Especially when done in brotherly love. Like at Bino's place.

RJW said...

YES!! Heh, heh, heh...

You are blessed to have such a Grace-speaker in your life.

Grace & love.

Ike said...

"Don't get me wrong, there are alot of great things in the law. Things that the Spirit may lead me to do or not do."

I did not comment to debate anybody but was just stating what I believe. I am using the above statement to say this......There is a basic though imperfect correspondence between the law written in a believer's heart and the law written in Scripture. This does not mean we can discard the law written in Scripture, because the law written in the heart IS NOT SELF-DIRECTING-that is, it does not tell us what to do. It only agrees with and responds to the law written in Scripture.

Sanctification and justification are both gifts from God and expressions of His grace. Though they are each distinct aspects of salvation, they can never be seperated. God NEVER grants justification without also giving sanctification at the same time.

I think that "MY" problem is I see so much emphasis on the "justification" and if "sanctification" is brought up you become a "legalist". If I'm wrong than I'm wrong. I am certainly open for rebuke as long as you use Scripture.......and you use the entire Word of God and not selective verses.

LovedMuch.com said...

Ahhhh... sanctification... there's a familiar refrain, eh, Joel?

Nicole said...

Bino, great post bro! The list made me think and I find myself in the same shoes as you!

Its a great discussion that has gotten started here, however, pulling teeth has never really gotten anyone anywhere, just an empty mouth with nothing to chew on.

Grace is Grace, no if, ands, or buts about it!

In Freedom, Nicole!

Free Spirit said...

Aww Bino,

I'm so warn out from the list, that I don't have the energy to read thru the comments.

Very thought provoking here, and I like that.
Way to get people thinkin'! :)

Bino M. said...

FS - I too got tired by writing them! :) Imagine living it? ;)