Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Legalism: What it IS and What it ISN'T

Here is a great synopsis of what legalism is and isn't, from a blog I've been enjoying lately.

Legalism is:

  • Distorting the gospel by adding conditions to free grace: Acts 15:1, 7-11; Gal.1:6-7, 2:11-16, 4:8-11, Gal. 5:2-4; Col.2:16-17
  • Substituting man-made regulations for the Word of God: Matthew 15:1-3
  • Majoring on the minors and neglecting the more important issues: Luke 11:42
  • Over-concern with the externals while disregarding matters of the heart: Matthew 23:27
  • Regarding with contempt or judging a brother based on matters of personal conviction: Romans 14:1-5
  • Trusting in ourselves that we are righteous based on religious performance: Luke 18:9-14
  • Hypocrisy, the leaven of the Pharisees: Luke 11:53-12:1
Legalism is not:

  • A zeal for the commandments of Christ: Matthew 5.19; 1 Corinthians 7.19
  • A ministry that teaches others to follow Christ in obedience: Matthew 28.20; 1 Thess. 4.1-2
  • Strong personal convictions (as long as they are not required of others): Romans 14.2,5
  • Man-made restrictions for personal protection from sinful habits (as long as we do not begin to view them as binding on others): Romans 13.14; 1 Corinthians 6.12
  • A zeal for good works: Eph. 2.10; Titus 1.16, 2.7, 14, 3.8, 14
  • Limiting our liberty for the benefit of others: Romans 14.15, 21, 15.2; Acts 16.1-3
  • Obedience: John 14.15, 23, 15.10; 1 John 2.3-5, 5.2-4

Source: Reformed and Always Reforming by the Reformed Rebel


  1. That's excellent, Derek. I especially appreciated the "Legalism Is Not" section. Thanks for pointing it out.

  2. Thanks for posting this brother! I will have to check out that blog now!

  3. Barry/Rob:

    I was struck by the power of this brief synopsis, which was buried in a post on the site (partly because I'm so challenged in the area of brevity). The writer calls himself the "Reformed Rebel" and blogs anonymously for reasons I cannot share - but they are very good reasons. He's a voracious reader and has a great deal of respect for the text of Scripture. Also, he's not afraid to put in the work required to dig up exegetical treasures. Good stuff all around.


  4. Derek -

    I am pleased and pleasantly shocked that you have posted this! I often forget that I'm blogging for anyone other than myself, so the link is...odd, but good.

    Thank you!

    The Reformed Rebel

  5. Reformed Rebel,

    Your synopsis of legalism was so good I couldn't pass it up. The Gospel versus legalism is a frequent topic of conversation around here, and also in every redeemed heart, I am sure. I hope your series is a blessing to many, as it has been to me.



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