(This blog post, specifically #41, was inspired by Officer John Lee, my friend at the Lyons Police Department, and special thanks to my friend Carmen for her contribution to this post.)
There are two different types of believers: Both are saved. One of these lives in victory, the other in defeat.
The legalist believer, unsure of his standing with Christ, strives for obedience because of fear, self loathing and anxiety. He lives in defeat. He is never at peace.
The Grace believer, secure in his salvation, strives for obedience motivated by gratitude and love for his Saviour. His lives in victory. He has peace. Which one are you? It’s your choice.
You might be a legalistic believer, or be slipping into legalism IF:
1. You think God “tests” or “tempts” you, or you must “overcome” life’s trials and tribulations to keep Jesus from blotting out your name.
2. You dwell on your failures and sins, obsessing over your behaviors, or feel guilty, ashamed or unworthy of God’s Grace.
3. You think that illness, or misfortune, death, or calamity is “God’s wrath”, or judgement on you, or someone else, for some sin or shortcoming, or “not living right”.
4. You think a 10% tithe is part of your salvation, and part of our gospel today, and you feel a person is “robbing God” if they don’t give 10% to the church.
5. You think “repentance” has something to do with your salvation, and should be preached more often.
6. You think financial blessings are directly connected to “living right”, or are proportionate to what you put in the offering plate.
7. You believe water baptism or “confession”, or “public profession of faith”, have something to do with your salvation.
8. You think “working out” your salvation” means working FOR you salvation.
9. You feel like a failure as a Christian because you’re divorced, or can’t seem to “get it right” in relationships.
10. You test, examine or verify others faith or salvation, and condemn, or treat them accordingly based upon your assessment.
11. You judge or condemn others lifestyles and behaviors.
12. You think you must worship on a particular day. (to the exclusion of the other 6 suppose).
13. You think you must pray in a particular manner, in a particular place, or you won’t be heard.
14. You believe “the whole Bible”, to include the OT ordinances and laws of Moses as well as the punishments for breaking them, applies to us today.
15. You believe that your behaviors and actions AFTER being saved, can forfeit salvation.
16. You feel you can impress God by your piety or righteous living.
17. You feel you can anger God, or bring his “wrath” upon you, with your bad behavior or poor performance as a believer, sins, or by not “living right”. Worse still if you teach that to your children.
18. You condemn others for things you do, or have done yourself in the past.
19. You believe you can “backslide”.
20. You feel God’s love is conditioned upon your good performance or behavior.
21. You think you can “add to”, or “help out” in your salvation.
22. You feel an obligation to “serve the Lord”, in exchange for salvation, or that you must “clean up your act”, “straighten up and fly right”, or defeat, or be delivered from drugs, alcohol or an addiction prior to, or as a condition of salvation. (Jesus saves us just as we are).
23. You view salvation as giving up, or forsaking things, or some sort of sacrifice.
24. You think a rich man can’t be a Christian, or get to heaven.
25. You expect things from God, and you think God expects or demands things, or certain behaviors out of you.
26. You think drinking, chewing tobacco, or smoking is a sin, and Jesus “doesn’t like”, or “isn’t happy” with people with such habits or behaviours. Worse still if you teach this to your children.
27. You believe if a Christian dies while in an addiction or committing a sin, or dies under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he will go to hell.
28. You feel you must “confess” your sins daily in prayer or you won’t be forgiven.
29. You think YOUR forgiveness is based upon whether or not you forgive others.
30. You seek a sign, or think you must receive some sort of sign, or “spiritual gift”, as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit and confirmation you have been saved.
31. You believe in faith healers, who incidentally, will not set foot in nursing homes or hospitals.
32. You believe in “prophets”,or psychics. Neither of whom has ever added any new revelation to the Bible, or prevented a death or accident, or won the lottery. Outside the Bible itself, There no more “prophets” today, and anyone who says he is a prophet is self deluded, or lying. John the divine was the last prophet in this dispensation. He wrote Revelation. Revelation speaks of two prophets still to come during the tribulation, but we will be in heaven with Jesus during this time
33. You feel you must live a certain way, act a certain way, or dress a certain way to be a Christian, and/or go to church.
34. You believe divorced people who remarry are living in perpetual adultery.
35. You believe Jesus died for your PAST sins, but not present or future ones, and you must confess and “repent” of those sins daily to be forgiven.
36. You believe your Pastor is the final, ultimate authority when it comes to teaching, or understanding the scriptures.
37. You view your pastor as a priest, a vicar, or an infallible human being, and you must go through him, or have him pray for you to reach God.
38. You blame bad things in your life, and your failures and your sins on Satan. (We don’t need any assistance from the devil, we are perfectlay able to make a mess of our lives without any outside influence or intervention).
39. You view crosses, and the church building or grounds,as having special powers, and that displaying or wearing crosses will protect, or exempt you and the church from evil influence, or calamities, with “God’s hedge of protection” around you and the church building, by virtue of it being a house of worship.
40. You would place your church responsibilities, and participation and attendance “every time the doors are open”, over family needs, such as sitting with an elderly or sick person, or meeting a need at work, or at home on Sunday, or whatever day you consider your “Sabbath”.
41. You feel that you, and other Christians should not work certain jobs, such as being a policeman, soldier or Corrections officer, or any job that requires Sunday work, or any other job that may possibly require a Christian to seriously injure or kill someone in defense of themselves or others.
42. You feel a Christian will go to hell for committing suicide.
43. You feel you shouldn’t consume certain meats or drink.
44. You base your faith on feelings, or experiences during worship.
45. You feel you have some sort of special power or spiritual legal authority from God to “rebuke” demons and evil spirits, or to “bind Satan”. (Read Jude 9).
46. You don’t believe in the Rapture of the church, or you believe in it, but think you can miss the rapture, the “catching away of the church” if you don’t “live right”, or are not “living right” when it occurs. (GOOD NEWS!, youyc’re going up, regardless).
47. You think if you DO miss the rapture, you will have to die a martyr, or prove yourself in the tribulation to be saved.
48. You see the Apostle Paul as a heretic, and his message as a contradiction to Jesus.
49. You feel some sins are beyond the reach of God’s grace, and cannot be forgiven. “I’ve sinned too much”.
50. You believe a Saved person can “blaspheme the Holy Spirit”, and lose his salvation.
51. You follow “what Jesus preached”, in Matthew through John, placing Jesus pre-resurrection, earthly ministry and message to Israel, over his post Resurrection message to the Gentiles that he sent through the Apostle Paul.(Romans through Philemon).
52. You decline or refuse invitations to weddings, bridal showers, funerals, receptions, rehearsals, or parties and other celebrations if you think alcohol will be present, or “people of low degree”, or “sinners” will be in attendance.
53. You see certain races or groups of people as “cursed” by God.
54. You feel salvation for everyone, either way, heaven or hell, is predetermined before birth, and that some folks were not meant to be saved.
55. You’re frustrated, disillusioned, and hurt that God has not “blessed” you financially because of your outward righteousness, piety, or performance as a Christian.
56.You think you have to make several lengthy prayers a day in order to be heard by God.
56.You think you can move the hand of God through prayer (more like you think you can force Him to do what you want).
57. You think the burden of the unsaved is on you. You believe it is your responsibility to make someone else come to God.
58. You think it is God’s will that you have to put up with an abusive spouse, relative, friend or church member (You stay in an abusive marriage because you think divorce angers God.)
59. You believe you’re condemned if you are divorced, and that also you are not allowed to get married to another after that.
60. You believe you are bound to past vows you made to God, even though you made them in foolishness or ignorance.
61. you believe the church elders know what is best for your life (including whom you should marry) They have authority and dictate what you ought to do in your daily affairs to “keep God happy.”
62. You feel a personal accountability for the death of an unsaved person who was close to you, believing they are going to hell because you did not witness to them, or if you DID witness to them, they refused the gospel, and them going to hell is your fault.
63. If you believe it is your mission, and the churches job to carry out “the great commission”, or “bring in the Kingdom for Christ” (the great commission was completed 2000 yrs ago).
64. You feel a person is married forever to their first spouse, dead or alive.
65. You feel you have to ask for forgiveness of your sins each time you pray, or say grace at the dinner table.
66. You think the Pastor, or Bishop has special powers to curse you, or strike you down.
Many will say “well, what’s the harm in legalism? we’re still saved right?”, and it “makes folks live right, doesn’t it” (I’ve heard preachers say this). Legalistic believers trade grace for works, peace for anxiety, and faith for fear. I suppose the WORST consequence is legalistic doctrine steals the believer’s REST, peace and joy in God’s grace. Satan can’t get your soul, but he can steal your peace. A believer can in no way add to, or take away from what God has done, in his unfathomable love for him on his behalf. It’s GOD’s Work, not yours. He loves you THAT MUCH.
Focus on your faith, not your failures, focus on your salvation, not your sins, focus on God’s GRACE, not your guilt,and REST in your salvation, and God’s love, mercy and Grace. God Bless!