Legalism and Low Grade Guilt

Here are a couple of quotes from Living the Cross Centered Life that I think go together.

Here’s a simple definition I use: Legalism is seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and justification before God through obedience to God.

A legalist is anyone who behaves as if they can earn God’s forgiveness through personal performance.

The subtle and serious error of legalism is a sinful fruit from sinful roots.

Thomas Schreiner writes that ‘legalism has its origin in self worship. If people are justified through their obedience to the law, then they merit praise, honor and glory. Legalism, in other words, means the glory goes to people rather than God.’

That’s how serious legalism is. The implications are staggering, because legalism claims in essence that the death of Jesus on the cross was either unnecessary or insufficient. It says to God, in effect, ‘Your plan didn’t work. The cross wasn’t enough and I need to add my good works to it to be saved.’

Philippians 3:9
not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–

Do you see any traces of condemnation in your life? Don’t be surprisee if you do. But don’t keep carrying the burden! Because of the gospel’s power you can be completely free of all condemnation.

Not mostly free; completely free.

Don’t buy the lie that cultivating condemnation and wallowing in your shame is somehow pleasing to God, or that a constant, low-grade guilt will somehow promote holiness and spiritual maturity.

It’s just the opposite! God is glorified when we believe with all our hearts that those who trust in Christ can never be condemned. It’s only when we receive His free gift of grace and live in the good of total forgiveness that we’re able to turn from old, sinful ways of living and walk in grace-motivated obedience.

Isaiah 1:18, Romans 8:1, Hebrews 11:6, 1 Peter 3:18

2 Responses to “Legalism and Low Grade Guilt”


  1. 1 ScriptureZealot

    Lu, I hope this is encouraging to you.

  2. 2 Lu

    Thank you!! Yes, it is … bear w/ me, the Lord is still working on me … and Thank You for the encouraging words, they are right on time!!

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