Posted by: Kara Luker | November 11, 2010

Something to chew on

My mom and I are taking an online Bible class together, which I think is very cute. One of the assignments this week was to write a post on what legalism looks like in the church. The following was my mom’s post, which struck me as a big bright spotlight on one of our greatest (and most defeating) tendencies as believers. Enjoy.


What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. Phillipians 3:8-9

There is a very subtle way legalism plays out in all of us, and filters into the church. When we first come to know the Lord, we receive the free gift of grace that Jesus’ blood dearly bought. We are so light with the wonder of it, seeing only the fullness of his life. But as we go on, we think we should begin to try to the do things we are learning; the things a Christian would do. As he is changing us, we think it is up to us to keep this up. Our acceptance, which was purely based on the finished work of Christ, is transferred into service or performance. So now we are doing things not because we are free and forgiven, but because we think we won’t be accepted by leaders, friends, and ourselves for being spiritual.

Everything in our lives has to begin and end with the childlike belief that only by the blood of Jesus are we accepted before God. Whether I am a newly born baby in Christ or 60 years in, Christ Jesus is my righteousness. Nothing added can change the truth. It is never based on what we can do, but on what has been done.

How it seeds its way into the church is that it sets up unspoken rules on how to advance or achieve acceptance and climb the ladder of church leadership. Then we grow weary in thinking we are working for Christ when we are working in what has become a legalistic system, which leads to death and no longer has any resemblance to the life and love of Christ.

Another trap is that we believe we can’t approach God if we have had a bad day or weren’t kind or patient. But if we had a good day and have been kind and helped people and read our Bible, we feel like we are in the Spirit and think how pleased God is with us. But there is just one standard for his acceptance: We can approach only by the blood of the Lamb.


Yep, thought you’d like it.


  1. My flesh doesn’t like it, but Mom’s piece is better than mine. Hmmm, actually, isn’t that sort of what she was writing about?

    • Hey now, let’s not compare. We love you both just the same. 🙂

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