Your Stories

Take the time to tell us your story.  Where are you in your walk with Christ, if you are even on the road?  Have you struggled with the perceived lists of do-and-don’ts that others have made?  Have you had experiences with legalistic pastors, churches, families, etc.?  How do you try to live your life now?  What advice do you have, if any, for others who may be struggling to become free to live in grace?

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103 responses to “Your Stories

  1. heather joy

    I guess I would fit the list of so-called “legalists.” Let
    me give you a glimpse from where I’m standing… For me, it’s not a
    list of “do’s & don’ts”… it’s not a legalist issue. It’s
    a love issue. I don’t wear pants because I love the Lord and
    believe it pleases Him when I dress femininely and modestly. Is it
    a “sin” to wear pants? I can’t say that it is or it isn’t – the
    Bible doesn’t just come out and say “Thou shalt not wear pants,
    women!” But there is always going to be a more holy standard that
    we can seek to attain. There will always be areas in which
    Christians could raise the bar just a little higher. Am I relying
    on my non-pants-wearning/skirts-only standard to get me to Heaven?
    No. Therefore it’s not a legalist issue. I use the KJV. Why?
    Because that’s what I was raised with? yes and no. I use it because
    it’s what I’m used to. I use it because no one’s been able to
    disprove it. I use it because it seems the most complete and
    accurate. I use it because I believe it is the Word of God. Am I
    relying on my KJV to get me to Heaven? No. Therefore it’s not a
    legalist issue. I don’t listen to “wordly music” because it does
    nothing to edify me as a Christian. We have been commanded to think
    on only that which is good, pure, and lovely – rap, country, and
    rock’n’roll are none of the above. Am I relying on “good Christian
    music” to get me to Heaven? No. Therefore it’s not a legalist
    issue. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point (for the most
    part). Legalism is “the doctrine that salvation is gained through
    good works.” Well, according to my Bible, Ephesians 2:8-9 blow that
    theory right out of the water. For me, I don’t have these high
    standards because I’m counting on them to keep the seal on my
    salvation. I do them because I believe it pleases the Lord. No one
    has to tell me to do these things (besides the Lord). No one has
    “forced” me to adhere to these “rules.” It’s not a legalism issue.
    It’s a love issue. It’s what’s in my heart, and it’s being
    proclaimed through my actions.

    • Heather,
      Thanks for your input. I wish there were more women in the world like you! There is absolutely nothing wrong with what you said or what you do. I commend you for trying to set a higher standard based on what Paul would call, the “love of Christ [that] constraineth us.” – 2 Cor. 5:14 (KJV, of course)

      If what you said is accurate, then you are really not a “legalist” in my book. You would only be classified as a “legalist” if you considered yourself more spiritual or spiritually mature, even more right with God, based on the things you mentioned; thereby judging another person’s actions as indicators of unrighteousness. I hope that makes sense. I’m typing on my phone.

      Keep loving Jesus.

    • Matthew

      I totally agree Standards don’t come from a church or organization, but rather from a Conviction based on the Bible. And when its based on the Bible no one can change your standard except for God. No, I am not a legalist, just a Born-again Bible Believing Independent Fundamental Baptist. Why? Not because all IFBs are right but because it is the closest doctrine to God’s Word and being Independent means we don’t all have the same standards/convictions. By the way I believe the KJV is the pure Word of God for English speaking people, and it really is not that hard to understand. But that’s a whole separate argument.

      • Matthew, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

        I would like to give you some food for thought, if you don’t mind. Think about what I am about to ask you. Question: in what ways am I, a Southern Baptist pastor, NOT independent? This not a trick question.

        Thanks, again, brother. And by the way, I had just told my wife I was going to ride my bike to the radio station this morning when I saw your picture. That’s funny 🙂

  2. RJ

    Recovering legalist here, graduate of a super duper legalist college! The problem I have come up across in legalism these days is less obvious. It’s not “you can’t wear pants and read NIV and be saved” because even the legalists have smartened up in that respect. In my experience it is more to the effect of seeing someone show up in jeans and a t-shirt at church and thinking “I need to pray for that person’s spiritual growth. I mean, I’m sure his faith is sincere and all but if he were spiritually mature, he would go out and buy himself a suit.” The judgement still exists, just in a slightly different form. I hear it echoed in what Heather says. “It pleases the Lord when I wear skirts. MAYBE wearing pants isn’t a sin but I KNOW wearing a skirt pleases him.” Well, then does that mean a person wearing pants is less pleasing to God? Aren’t you therefore judging the person who doesn’t wear a skirt as not doing enough to please God? Heather also assumes that wearing a skirt is “setting the bar higher” and I don’t believe there’s a verse in all the Bible that would support that claim. That is a man-made (legalistic) point of view. This is what I come across all too often.
    In other words, the legalism I see these days doesn’t come about during salvation but during discipleship. “We have to get that girl discipled so she’s see the light and put on a skirt.” I suppose it’s a step in the right direction because I am saying less of the doubts about a person’s salvation based on an outward appearance, but… still a long, long way to go.
    Oh and as for me? Why I am a recovering legalist? My husband and I decided to try out a less legalistic church one time because it was near our house. We ahd an attitude. The music! The way people dressed! The NIV Bibles! Oh, the horrors! But in one week at that church we saw more sincerity in people’s faith and love of God and His word than we had seen in all our years of Bible college. And so began our recovery…

    • Thanks, R.J., for your thoughts.

      I understand what you said about the “setting the bar higher” comment from Heather; but herein lies the struggle with legalism. Where do we cross a line that is unacceptable? Is there a higher standard that we should seek to attain? At what point do we say, “Jesus would NOT approve of THAT!”?

      Honestly, I am pretty lenient when it comes to styles of clothing (except when my girls want to wear anything that exposed more than 2 sq. inches of flesh :-)) There are some things I wish I could wear and look good. But every once in a while wouldn’t you think it good if we re-evaluated our tastes and personal choices? It wouldn’t hurt to make sure we haven’t gone too far in the other direction, would it? The real problem, however, is when we judge other people’s walk with God by OUR standards.

      Really, thanks for your thoughts. I hope you continue to visit and comment.

      • There is nothing in scripture that says we must wear anything in particular. We are called to dress modestly. God cares about my heart, He is pleased with my love for Him and for Others, not with my jeans or my skirt. I’m afraid we begin setting these things up as idols, when they are nothing before God. There are many a man who would stumble or have lust in their heart no matter the dress of the person. I have come to the place with my relationship with God that I desire authenticity between myself and my God. Thinking that I need to dress in a certain way or read a certain translation of the Bible is truly foolishness. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus… nothing more and nothing less.

      • Thank you for your comment, Susan. You are absolutely correct in that there are no biblical mandates as to specifics of dress for church, or anywhere else – only modesty. But I do believe modesty is something that is rarely on people’s minds, even in church. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to tell my daughters “no” to 98% of stuff sold these days? I mean, I don’t care that they wear jeans, just don’t show skin where the sun is never meant to shine. And, yes, there is such a thing as “too tight.” But, you know, I’m a dad.

        If you haven’t read it, I’d appreciate you checking out a piece I wrote and reposted a couple of times: “What to Wear to Church.” I believe it is a fair treatment of the whole clothing issue.

    • Sheldon

      Absolutely agree. This is true. Will explain my story soon for you guys.

    • I so agree to your reply to Heather! Her comment smelled legalism..it is exatctly as you say:
      You wont go to heaven by doing all these things, but… And after the but, something about “it pleases the lord” or something simular.
      It is terrible! Terrible! Statement like that can draw us away from grace! It can strangle faith!

  3. RJ

    Oh, I’m not disagreeing that what we wear matters. I think we need to dress in a way that is modest, neat, and appropriate (which would vary depending on what we are doing). I am 100% in favor of modesty. But I don’t think that wearing a skirt is more modest than wearing pants–or vice versa. I think it has to be taken on an outfit by outfit decision. Are there immodest pants? Yup! Are there immodest skirts (even if they are the “proper” length)? Absolutely. What we wear does matter and as Christians choosing clothes that honor God is extremely important. I believe that is clear in the Bible. My problem arises when one assumes that wearing a skirt is MORE pleasing to God than wearing a modest pair of pants. The slippery slope is when we start to believe that what we chose to wear makes us just a little more holy than the next guy. Or when we start to assume that when someone doesn’t dress the way we do, that the person needs to “get right”, seek “maturity” or even on the opposite side “is too legalistic”. I believe that when it comes to gray areas, God convicts people individually and we need to be careful not to judge other people’s convictions. At Bible college, a common attitude was “God convicted me about non-Christian music, so He must love me more than he loves you or you’d get that conviction too” (or insert any common area of fighting between Christians). That is where I come from by saying that I took “setting the bar higher’ as a touch of legalistic attitude. Yes, we should set the bar higher as Christians. But to assume that wearing a skirt/reading KJV/etc is the way to set that bar higher is still a legalistic attitude. I hope I made sense. It’s late and I’m rambling!!!!

    • Good observations. I bet Heather Joy and you would make for good coffee-break entertainment. The both of you should get together and compare notes, just as long as you come to some conclusion which version of the notes you will use 😉

    • heather joy

      Not that I’m agreeing or disagreeing with you (yet), but I’m just curious what your definition of a “modest pair of pants” is…?

      Of a truth, God is most definitely not a respector of persons (that’s Bible) So I agree with your statement that God does not love one person more than the next, regardless of their standards or convictions. He’s the perfect Father – loving His blood-bought children equally.

      • Renae

        I just happened upon this site and when I read Heather Joys convictions about skirts and her reply about “what is our definition of a modest pair of pants” it got me thinking. Why is it just girls who can’t wear pants to be modest? Ever think about it? Ever see guys that wear pants that are not modest? I sure have, I can see quite well how “rounded” they are both back AND front. Now, should guys be banned from pants and forced to go back to wearing tunics because some pants are immodest? No, we would never do that. So why the double standard for women? Sure some pants (and skirts and dresses) are too revealing, does that mean all pants are too revealing? No, I don’t believe so. If it were true, then like I said, guys should also go back to wearing tunics because I “see” their form through the pants.

        And please, don’t give me the “guys are more visual creatures, they lust more readily than women” Hogwash! If a guy was dressed immodest, I bet he will turn just as many heads as a women does.

        People should dress out of love for other people. They should not try to cause people to sin by lusting after their bodies. Can that be accomplished through both skirts and pants? That is up to each individuals convictions from God, not other people dictating whether you meet the standard or not.

      • God bless you! Very logical way to look at it.

      • Anonymous

        I dont understand why yall are agruing about pants. God cares about the heart not the stinking pants!!

  4. RJ… I like your response about ‘convictions…I feel the same way. I know that I don’t do, or do some things, that would drive a legalistic ‘christian’ bonkers. I equate most of my arguments with being diabetic, which I am. you see, for most folks, going to a bakery and buying a dozen donuts for the coffee clutch is not a problem. For a diabetic, it is the temptation of Arsenic and lace. I could no more eat a donut than you would swallow arsenic. So I avoid bakeries, and the other little sweets offered up by well meaning albeit ignorant folks serving them at our church. The donuts are not evil. Or sinful. But for me, it would be, because God has convicted me to the point long past my doctors orders…”DON’T eat the donuts. I have much bigger problems than whether or not I should wear a dress or read the ‘right Bible…that conviction may come later on, I don’t know. But if He does but that conviction upon my heart, and I choose not to follow it, then yes, that would be the sin.I haven’t felt God’s nudge as of yet, about my attire in church, but eventually I am sure He will get around to it…right after I get those donuts out of my head once and for all.

  5. I have had experience with legalism and all this do’s and don’ts, mixing Law and Grace instead of resting on His arms. Being a part of life, in church, and growing up with it lead to so much confusion and pressure on my part. Right now I’m still struggling. I want to break free – yet I have doubted myself and my authenticity, all these contradictions within me. Right now, I don’t know if I can say that I “have freedom” since legalism has gotten me to believe so much lies – stuff that people shove into my throat and I couldn’t say “no” to. That’s why I’m still trying to see the light in this all. I see the light, just don’t know if I’m already “there”.

    • I know how you feel. That’s why I say I’m still “recovering.” And one difficulty is trying not to throw out what is good in order to experience freedom. There is a such thing as going too far and abusing grace. We don’t want to do that, either.

    • Kristenmfree

      I too, am in the same place you were when you wrote this. I’m experiencing this today. I want freedom from this and don’t want to carry the “distorted beliefs” I have been taught. Thank you for writing. I know I’m not alone

  6. S.Woods

    I would like to say that I was in a legalistic Church in the 70’s and 80’s. I had a nervous break down on 1983 , because of do’s and don’ts. I never felt good enough always condemed. If I made different choices for my children, I was losing my conviction’s.When me and my husband went to the Pastor to tell him we were leaving the Church, he told us that we are out of’s God will and that something could happen to our children. My husband was bi-polar and I had to make allot of choices. Praise God he gave me the courage to get out of those Church’s. When I see people with long skirts and dresses. I just see long dresses. He dosen’t make me feel they are spirtual!

  7. Mine’s a bit involved — happens when you’ve reached a ripe old 69 — but it’s a harrowing story of a recovering Pharisee..
    Read it here at: http://www.grace4life.com/About_Us – “A Tragic-Happy Tale of the Gospel Lost & Found”
    Enjoy!
    Johnny
    PCA TE
    World Harvest Mission
    Cross Cultural Renewal & Leadership Development

  8. Mary

    Have been attending a Independent Baptist church now for 1.5 yrs. I’m getting tired of listening to the preacher talk negative about Catholics, Pentecostals, etc. I was handed a pamphlet
    on “Dispensationalism” & quite frankly I don’t agree with it or find the doctrine scriptural. I can’t seem to get close to anyone. Greetings are the same “how are you?” Superficial. I really don’t feel the LOVE of Jesus there. They don’t believe in annointing
    the sick with oil or laying hands & praying over the sick. People keep asking for prayer for their sickness with very few positive results. They also lay guilt trips on you if you miss evening Sunday & Wednesday service. I go along with the KJV but I don’t always understand it. I don’t care what they say that a 6th grader could understand it. I’ve attended college & I’m a medical professional & I still prefer my NAS. I don’t think Jesus is going to send me to hell for reading the NAS. I don’t know what to do…because the pastor does preach the WORD & has not embraced “purpose driven” philosphy yet.

    • I know exactly how you feel, Mary. It may seem cliche, but I “feel your pain.”

      I wish i had an easy answer for you. It’s really not for me to advise you to pick up and leave that church. That is something I believe is between you and the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, I can tell that what you are experiencing is the very stuff that brings disunity in the family of God, not to mention gives church a bad reputation.

      I don’t want to give the impression that I believe the same as other denominations. I am a Baptist. I am not a Pentecostal, Methodist, or Catholic (the Catholic issue is a little more tricky). Look up The Baptist Faith and Message and you’ll know what I believe. But even though i have problems with things like speaking in tongues, losing one’s salvation, and ecclesiastical forms of church government, I don’t run down other denominations from the pulpit. As a matter of fact, I pray for them, asking that God would do a real work in their congregations. I know where to agree to disagree, as well as where to stand up for what I believe is truth. But when it comes to the way I treat other Baptists, I definitely don’t treat them the way nearly every other Independent Baptist treats me, all because I pastor a Southern Baptist church. They shun me, malign me, and attempt to discredit everything my church or I try to do. That is not loving the brethren.

      When it comes to Bible translations, i would rather you be reading and studying a NAS than nothing at all. Those who say you’re “going to hell” for using anything other than a KJV are legalists, pure and simple. But I won’t get into all that.

      Mary, just seek God’s face. Don’t let yourself fall under the judgmental condemnation of others who have a self-made standard of righteousness. If you are bought with the blood of Christ, you are a new creation and free of the law of death. Live in the grace that Christ purchased for you. Never let another make you feel guilty for something that is a matter of personal conscience and grace.

      I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment. I will be praying for you to hear God’s voice in this matter. God bless.

      • Russ

        Hearing that Independent Baptists treat you, a pastor, with disdain jives with what I was taught early as a child – that Southern Baptists were ALL liberal, and viewed church as a social country club and business networking tool. Visiting one of the SB churches in town was considered paramount to illicit sin. I understand now that the leaders of my church were worried that some thinking member(s) of their flock might just find out that Southern Baptist churches were made up of much the same types of folks with the same basic doctrines and teachings. Musical style was always a pressure point, for some reason. I am sorry that it took me so many years and trials to learn.

      • Yeah, the first time I visited an SBC church I was afraid someone might see me; I essentially thought it was a different religion! Then, later, after I had been a pastor of my second church, a man I got to talking with at Taco Bell literally said – no joke – “Well, we have to study for our sermons.” Seriously? So, no, I don’t get my instruction from Nashville 🙂

  9. Anonymous

    Dear Brother Anthony,
    Thank you for your words of encouragement & prayers. I’m going to try & hang in there..where I presently worship. I’m going to delve more into the scriptures on a daily basis & get closer to the Lord & pray for my pastor. He’s young i.e. 30 & has a lot
    to learn. Until Jesus Returns, Sister Mary

  10. It is painful for me to read these stories. When I was fourteen I recognized the unscriptural legalism and condemnation in the church our family attended. At age eighteen I broke away from it and this was one of the best decisions I ever made.

    • I am sorry that it was painful, but I can understand why. But I am encouraged to read of your early realization of what was going on. How much more painful would your story have been had you been held prisoner to legalism until you were an adult?

      Thanks for your encouragement. And thanks for taking the time to comment.

  11. Anne

    I would so much like to hear more from Heather Joy and RJ. I am caught between those two opinions, struggling to determine what God really wants. I have been an Independent Fundamental Baptist for 16 years, since shortly after I was saved. I used to think exactly like Heather Joy. But now I feel like RJ. I don’t want our family to be out of God’s will in any way, but I feel liberty calling, or is that just backsliding?
    We are calling into question many of the things we changed as new Christians and it feels like we are going backward.
    I hope we are sincerely seeking a closer walk with Jesus, and to serve him from a heart of love instead of duty and guilt. This road is a little terrifying.

    • Anne, thanks for sharing. I will see what I can do about getting your request to Heather. She has been through a lot since the above comments. Her insight might even be more enlightening.

      But I do want to encourage you in one thing. You mentioned how you “feel liberty calling,” but wondered if it was “just backsliding.” As long as you keep a heart of humility and submission to God’s plan for your life, then you will be on the right track. Liberty and backsliding are more commonly linked together when there is also present a spirit of rebellion. If you are sincerely wanting “a closer walk with Jesus, and to serve him from a heart of love instead of duty and guilt,” you can rest in His grace.

      Remember, you can never make Him love you more than He already does. You don’t have to earn His approval of you. You are forgiven and are covered in the righteousness of Christ, so live as one spared by the life of Another. When you are always seeking to bring Him glory out of a heart of gratitude, not obligation, backsliding will be hard to do.

      God bless you, Anne.

      • Anne

        Thank you for your caring comments. The motivation is one of my biggest concerns. I don’t trust my own heart on the matter. I don’t feel like I have a rebellious attitude towards God, on the other hand I am sure I have entertained some rebellious thoughts about our church and its leadership. Do you think that is a natural part of deciding it is time for a change?
        I don’t know how to explore this honestly.

    • heather joy

      Anne –
      I just read your comments.

      I’m afraid I won’t be able to shed much more light on the issue than what I’ve already previously said in my comments above.

      There was a time when I went through this stage where I questioned everything that I stated above. I did so, and I started living the opposite because it felt good, seemed cool — and I labeled it as living in the “liberty” I have in Christ.

      Yet I kept coming back to one verse: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (I Cor.6:12)

      Yes, I could live in liberty and do what I wanted (as far as “not really sinning” goes), but that liberty did not bring me peace. It brought me even more doubts. I felt sneaky. I fely rebellious. I felt dirty.

      And it led farther than I thought it would lead…
      Pretty soon the line between “liberty in Christ” and outright sinful was blurred. I ended up in a rut, and my testimony was all but fried.

      I’m back to square one now — living a life of high standards and “legalistic rules” — not because it makes me feel good (although it does), but because it is where Christ led me once I gave up my own will on the matter.

      I am still living in the liberty of Christ. He has liberated me to live for HIM and not for myself. He has liberated me from SIN so that I can live the abundant Christian life.

      Hope that helps in some way. God bless you on your journey!

      Heather Joy

    • Russ

      Anne, what you’re experiencing is the big set-up of legalism: the rules and standards are so high and inflexible, that moving away from them seems to always lead in a downward direction. So, feeling like you’re “back-slidden” is natural and normal. When the overriding rule is “anything less than perfection is inadequate”, it’s easy to feel the “guilt trip”. A little whispering in the ear about how “we’ve noticed” is enough make your stomach roil with that feeling of not being good enough. Well, salvation has nothing to do with us being good enough of our own virtue. God’s grace has it all covered. I experienced the same feelings – don’t feel as if you’re alone.

  12. Anne, if you can go to Scripture and see a contradiction between what you are being taught and what God says, then you are being a good Berean. If the leadership in your church is legalistic, then ask them about it. In love and with respect, show them what the Bible says and ask for a response. If their response is belittling, arrogant, condemning, or condescending, then you need new leadership, whether there or somewhere else.

    It is not rebellious to seek the truth. It is a sign of an abusive church when the leadership cannot be questioned or held accountable to the ultimate authority, God’s Word. If reading Galatians makes you feel like the leadership in your church is acting legalistic, then maybe they are, and maybe it’s time for a change.

    • “Anne, if you can go to Scripture and see a contradiction between what you are being taught and what God says, then you are being a good Berean. If the leadership in your church is legalistic, then ask them about it. In love and with respect, show them what the Bible says and ask for a response. If their response is belittling, arrogant, condemning, or condescending, then you need new leadership, whether there or somewhere else.

      It is not rebellious to seek the truth. It is a sign of an abusive church when the leadership cannot be questioned or held accountable to the ultimate authority, God’s Word. If reading Galatians makes you feel like the leadership in your church is acting legalistic, then maybe they are, and maybe it’s time for a change.”

      Amen!

  13. Dennis Teel

    he word modest in bible equates to meaning moderate.nothing more,nothing less. i’m totally disabled as i was diagnosed as being bipolar in 1981.i had become a Christian in 1973.it was in 1981 that I was diagnosed and moved from my parents house for the first time to live on my own.i struggled for years because the church i attended continued to trash my viewing of channels like HBO and listening to the current music of that time.i was praying daily,studying my bible daily and growing spiritually by leaps and bounds,regardless of my movie watching which included MTV.it was the church,not god who had a problem it/.i’m no different today.i still watch movies,even stuff like twilight,friday 13th and i’m sure movies that would turn some people’s stomach..i have a huge music video collection as well.i still study,read and pray on a daily basis and spend a lot of time praying for others and my faith doesn’t waiver. I spend time through each day conversing with the lord,/.when I watch a movie and it’s over ,that’s where it stays.i don’t dwell on it and it doesn’t inhibit my wal with the lord and it hasn’t stunted my walk with the lord.neither do my music videos.all through the 80;s and up to today,so many churches preach that legalism is the only way to be spiritual. ie,don’t watch lady gaga,don’t listen to this or do that..they waste far too much time blaming the media.this has been a decietful trick created by the devil,to harp constantly on the media ,thusly ignoring the real item..to teach the flock how to vote for politicians with wisdom and how to strengthen one’s faith and trust in the lord and how to acquire faith without becoming judgemental and self righteous.//how to pray for others successfully,etc./but instead the church went the way of pounding legalism into people’s lives,telling them that their movies and music were the culprits.this has been a lie since the beginning.did it do any good to bash elvis in the 50’s,janis Joplin in the 70’s aerosmith in the 80’s ,the bands and movies in the 90’s and 21st century?? has it done any real good..made a change? no.all it’s accomplished is to give the church something to harp on for another decade with out successfully accomplishing anything positive. you probably wouldn’t be surprised how many times I ministers tried to beat into my head that I must spend most all my free time that I have with my nose in the bible and I must throw away all my music videos and movies to accomplish being spiritual…baloney…i’m leading a beautiful spiritual life and have a wonderful walk with Christ and yet have a wonderfully huge movie and music collection that I enjoy and in fact i consider to be blessings.if not for those things i’d have had only 4 walls to stare at for the last 20 plus years..oh yeah..and my KJV..the church should have been teaching it’s people how to pray ,how to grow spiritualy and how to have faith in the lord jesus that doesn’t waiver and how to comfort others and pray for them,not advise them that their overall problem is that they watch bruce willis movies or smoke tobacco.(btw,the bible says nothing more about smoking tobacco than it does about having an improper diet)
    I despise legalism..i’m not in bondage to the law..the letter kills(spiritually).but I love the lord an him only will I serve.

  14. Dennis Teel

    one brief post about my post above..i understand that one’s convictions might be the reason of not watching certain movies or listening to certain types of music.but when one’s religionteaches that everyone must have the same convictions,it becomes a cult,as that belef removes individuality from the situation.when individuality is removed and followers are all expected to follow the same legalistic menu,it’s a cult– many charismatic churches follow this rule of thumb.not all. I stay away from such doctrine and yet i’m charismatic.

  15. Legalism is living in a box..which I did.
    Leaving legalism is an unexpected breath of fresh air.
    The only time I looked back was to remember and give thanks I wasn’t “there” any longer.

  16. Anne

    I haven’t commented since last fall and I am happy, no, abounding with thanksgiving as I leave this update. After much struggle and guilt we left our independent, fundamental Baptist church after 15 years. We were told that we would never find another good church that preached the Word and we would throw our family into spiritual bereftness.
    We have been overjoyed to find that that was the farthest thing from the truth! We have been blessed to find a wonderful church that cares very deeply about God’s Word. I have grown more in the last 3 months than I had the previous 10 years. I find the people there so deep and real. We talk about more important things than where to find long enough skirts…
    The previous comment about leaving legalism being an unexpected breath of fresh air inspired me to write, as I said those exact words at church last night. I think it is a Holy Wind.

    • Praise the Lord! I am happy for you! And I think that it is very important for everyone to make note of a particular line in your comment: “We were told that we would never find another good church that preached the Word and we would throw our family into spiritual bereftness.” It doesn’t matter what else was taught in that church, that line alone proved it was an unhealthy, controlling, and frankly abusive group. You did the right thing for leaving. Not all Independent Baptist churches are that way, of course, but the ones that are should be pointed out.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I hope it will encourage others to be bold in their stand against legalism.

  17. I’m disabled ( unemployed,collecting disability)since 1981 when i was in my late 20’s,due to a sleep disorder(dspsd)..i’ve been a christian however since 17 years old (am now 58)and have come up against legalism ever since the first day of accepting christ./the very first year of my accepting jesus(1973)all i kept hearing from my minister was “why do you smoke cigarettes”? this went on for 4 what seems like forever..i felt like asking the hypocrite why he drinks coffee and eats sugar!! (no different than smoking cigs according to the bible)..for those of you who don’t seem to know what a legalist is,it’s anyone who places the importance of one’s giving up of the movies they watch or the music they listen to,etc,being equatable to whether or not that person is a spiritual person or right with god(in god’s favor) or not..i know a man that says he limits his high school kids to PG movies..nothing R or above..but if i watch R movies ,somehow the fact that my bar isn’t raised as high as his,makes me wrong.i won’t even go to a church if i know that they’re going to force conviction on people by going in to this “bash the media and any christian that spends time with it” nonsense..christians who label movies and music as being 98% of the world’s woes have an “ignorance” problem. i was never convicted of watching movies (G,PG ,R)’nor of the music i listen to(aerosmith,green day,etc)//i’m a collector of music since the 50’s.literally..everything from the three d’s and kris jensen(the 50’s) the beach boys(60’s) (alice cooper an,abba)70’s (psychedelci furs,talking heads),80s’ and the 90’s and 2000’s(no doubt,gwen stefani,evanscence,bruno mars,etc)..there have been so many idjuts in my life ,advising me,telling me,preaching to me that i am being blasphemous or sinning or being disrespectful to the lord cause i have all this”sinful” “horrible” music,yada yada yada..i explain..i’m a collector.. and my musical tastes are extremely broad..they’re ears are closed to it and they continue their legalistic words to me(even suggesting that i only collect certain kinds of music..a bunch of numbnuts,ya know,lol?)/.same with movies i watch and own..”lethal weapon,the ring,the grudge,the dark knight rises,etc” my taste in movies is also broad..but…i spend much time everyday in prayer & study(scripture).recently i’m reading books that align themselves with biblical history..like the complete works of josephus..since i’ve been saved i speak to christ everyday,all through the day and feel and know(not believe,but KNOW),that he is with me.my knowledge and concious awareness of the lord’s presence is as real as any physical person thats[‘ around me..ie,the presence of the lord is always as real to me as the presence of any physical person,be it a family member friend or any acquaintance./the lord isn’t someone that i feel i have to suddenly conjure into my presence by first saying “dear lord.. ” or “hallowed father”… i merely say something like..”ya know lord…” or “hey jesus”>>> or “can you believe that jesus ..why would anyone make a movie like this…what woman would walk downstairs into a dark basement after hearing a sound like that”?(yeah,he’s beside me when i watch tv..his spirit doesn’t leave and come back later when the tv is off,as some people tend to believe and preach)
    i truly feel sorry for any christian that misunderstands scripture to the point that he/she relies so heavily on preaching works ,being bound by ‘the law’..legalism..as opposed to letting the conviction of the holy spirtit do it’s work in other christians.i’m free from the bondage of the law and have been for years now..i don’t do drugs..not even pot.i don’t drink ..i don’t curse and swear/i practice charity..god’s kind of love..mercy..compassion and hope..hope is described in scripture as imagination..one’s thinking..one’s thoughts..”vain imaginations” is a good example.i practice positive,successful and healing hope along side prayer and my day through out.i believe in unconditional love from god..and unconditional love for people..i care that they accept forgiveness and salvation of jesus. i don’t care to carry on about what they watch or listen to.that’s for the holy spirit to decide.not for anyone else to carry on about like some radical nutcase.it’s them radical nutcases that almost chased me away from the church for good.my advice to anyone is to concentrate on teaching new christians how to pray,how to listen and hear the voice of god and how to hope and how to cope//and to cease telling them that it’s their music or movies that’s ‘causing’ their problems..because that’s a lie!! for over 60 years the church has focused on bashing movies and music with the moronic belief that it’s the media that’s causing all the problems..elvis,the beatles,the doors,the stones,twisted sister,nirvana,lady gaga…if you people haven’t realised by now how useless those attacks are then i pity you/.focus on the real problems.don’t you realise that satan has most evangelicals focusing on the media as a diversion to keep themselves and you away from the real resolve?as long as the church continues to focus on bashing and demonising celebrities as the culprits of the nation’s woes,people will continue to not accept christ but for the most part will run or avoid christianity completely/.i would’ve thought most christians ,especially christian leaders ,would’ve caught on to this a LONG time ago -here it is 2013 and they’re STILL carrying on with the same legalism.what a shame..whata horrible rotten shame!!

    • Janna Watson

      I have been hearing the same stuff from the pastor at the Baptist Church where I live. He and his wife have told me often that listening to the Beatles will send me to Hell. I have also been told that the KJV is the only accurate Bible, I use the NIV, so does my mom. I am going to Hell for that too. This pastor told my friends husband that he needs to divorce my friend, even though that is not what my friends husband wants. Is that a legalistic for you?

      • Janna, I am so sorry that you are being told such things. If your pastor is saying you will go to hell for listening to the Beatles, then he is way off base. It is extremely unfortunate that he condemns you for reading any other translation. But any pastor that says two people should get divorced had better have a seriously good insurance policy, not to mention a REALLY good reason to tell someone to do what God has clearly said He hates.

        Anyway, thanks for stopping by.

  18. lol..i realised i left two posts here..three really..in one i said i was diagnosed as bipolar,the other as having dspsd..actually it’s the delayed sleep phase syndrome disorder(a recent diagnosis,overwriting any bipolar).i also have (apparently)multi posting addiction personality(mpap)

  19. Shelby

    My wonderful husband has recently been more on fire for God and it is wonderful – until he’s requiring so many changes from our home. I have 2 teenage boys he is step dad to, and he wants no more secular music to be listened to at all and no video games, etc. I can totally agree to a point – but I don’t feel its requested in love – it’s demanded. Hard really for me because I love many types of music. When it’s required we ONLY listen to Christian, this no longer brings my spirit closer to God. My sons now have friends are not Christian and they are getting closer to their homes than ours since ours is too legalistic. They are met with criticism each day how we fall short from God at dinnertime.
    I want to be a Christian wife that supports her husband where he feels he needs to lead his family – but I’m now concerned for my son’s walk with God and afraid they could walk away.
    I have definitely spoken in love my concerns, fears, etc, but he then states I’m not behind him and he looks like the bad guy to my sons. He says he feels strongly in doing this. I don’t know what to do. I want to avoid things that are not good for our family – but I would rather see us be together in prayer, study together, etc, than require ‘not tos’. Our walk with God is personal and changes for His glory the more we are in His word, not in the laws. It’s hard to know what to do now.

    • My heart breaks for you, Shelby. As I type this tears are welling up in my eyes. I’m so sorry you are having to go through this.

      First, please don’t give up – and don’t give in. You said so many rights things in your comment. You want to honor your husband, but you are concerned more with what is true. You want your son to respect his stepfather, but you’re having a hard time with the “rules.” You are conflicted, but for the right reasons.

      I am a stepfather. I know how hard it can be to feel respected. I also know what it is like to drive a wedge between relationships as a result of being too legalistic. The positive side is you have a husband who hates sin and desires righteousness. The negative side is that you have a blended family with newly-implemented spiritual requirements that are causing resentment.

      I will pray that God will open your husband’s eyes to what he is doing. I will pray for you. But what needs to happen is for your husband to see that a far worse sin than “worldly” music is making his children bitter towards God. He needs to understand that forced compliance to laws does not equal a heart towards pleasing Christ. Sure, he should have standards, but ones soaked in grace and built upon a foundation of thankfulness. It is far better to raise kids that listen to Christian music because they want to praise the One who saved them from their sins, rather than listen because they HAVE to.

      I don’t know why there is a step parent issue. That’s not my business. But I do know that blended families run a far greater risk of falling apart. My advice to you is to prayerfully and lovingly seek professional, CHRISTIAN marriage counseling. If you don’t want to approach it from a “marriage” perspective, do it for the purpose of learning better how to relate, as a blended family, to your children. You can always learn something, but it may open your husband’s eyes and give you a safe, objective place to express your concerns.

      God be with you, Shelby.

      • Shelby

        Thank you so very much for your prayers. They’ve already made a difference. Yesterday – he told me and the boys that he has made mistakes and hasn’t been the perfect stepdad, but loves us all very much. He then washed our feet!! I was in tears – my youngest son even said it was sooo cool. This was huge for him to do. He’s not a man that expresses himself like that, or does things like that lightly. This spoke volume’s of Christ’s love for us more than any rules ever could!
        I love his desire for God and I am proud to be his wife. His heart is open for God’s direction, so your prayers mean so much. Most of what I may tell him may not make sense to him or may not be ‘heard’. But God speaks directly to a heart and knows exactly what will make an impact to someone.
        Thank you for all you do and may God richly bless you and your family!

      • To God be the glory! It was probably your prayers more than mine 😉

  20. DB

    I just found this site and enjoy reading it! I have been researching articles for my Thesis paper and that is when I stumbled here. I am a recovering legalist. My life story, short, is I was raised by legalistic parents, however, they became so judgmental they no longer could find a church that fit their standards so we quit going to church when I was around 10 or so. I had tow older sisters, and a older brother. However the rules stayed. No movies, no dating, no this, no that. Soon my older sisters rebelled and ran away from home. They were shunned. I had a rough life in my teen years. I felt stifled and guilty all the time. If I listened to the wrong music I felt so low. True I brought on some of my own troubles with choosing sin but sin seemed to be life in my dull black and white world. Later, in my early 20s I found myself pregnant and knew I need to do something right to raise this child. I now lived 1,000 miles from home but found a church to start attending. At that point I believe I truly became saved. However I started down the only path I knew, I remember the haunting voices in my head of what a ‘good’ church is and found exactly what my parents would approve of. The rules,added to rules, added to rules. I again felt the colorless black and white world. I ran again. Back into sin. This time with a innocent child who started out in Christian school, now living a different life because her mom has lost her mind, or so it seemed. I tried living away from God but He never gave up on me, He was smarter than me, knowing I was rejecting the Pharisees and not Him. He rescued me,but what did I do when I came back? Right back into the ‘right church’. I spent five years in sin, then another ten years in this church. My daughter seeing both sides was so confused. I remarried and we both served in this legalistic church, although my service was soon to be limited because I dared to remarry. What thankfully stopped it all was a new pastor was hired, more legalistic than ever. He even bought suits for teens and gave them to wear to church! I saw the obvious disconnect from the Bible with all the outward rules and our family left. We struggled a little but knew we didn’t want to ‘go out into the world’ and found a grace filled church that was teaching on Galatians during that time. WOW. My eyes have been opened and God taught me all my judgmental ways I had. He is still teaching me! What I once thought was sin, no I understand is a liberty issue. I am free to serve Christ, out of love, not out of rules. Although at the time I thought it was out of love. But my heart was revealed, and it was not pretty! Now, I am free to be me, broken,not perfect but I am me. God has a plan for my life and teaching me to accept people where they are. Give them color in their life, not black and white rules to live by and be judged by. I could go on but felt I have wasted enough of your space as I vent! Thanks for letting me get it out! My oldest child is now 25 and loves the ‘new mom’ and stands beside me when my parents condemn me and the ‘wrong kind of church’ we attend. I have little children that are being taught so different from my oldest, and i thank God for giving me another chance, at parenting and serving Him.

  21. Aprille

    I’m currently blogging through my story – 20 posts so far with another 10 or so to come in the coming weeks. You can check it out here:

    http://beautifulinhistime.com/category/personal-and-spiritual-ramblings/the-wilderness-between-legalism-and-grace/

    • Wow! That’s some good stuff, even if all I read were the titles. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. It would seem that you are doing better than me at actually addressing recovering from legalism.

  22. Katelin

    “You are forgiven and are covered in the righteousness of Christ, so live as one spared by the life of Another”.. I stumbled across your blog and I have been encouraged by your posts, comments, insights, and love. I can’t get the above quote (in which you shared in a comment on this post) out of my mind. It is so applicable to everyday life as we pick up our crosses to follow the one who did what none other could do for us. I stand in awe of Jesus Christ, son of God, giver and sustainer of my (sometimes painfully pitiful) life. Thank you for what you are doing, and thank you for sharing your wisdom on grace and love.

    As far as my story goes, my parents were slightly legalistic, therefore I was slightly legalistic. I was an extreme “goody-goody” in my teenage years, but once I became brave enough to tip-toe into the pond of sin, it was no time before I was doing cannon balls in it. I constantly felt self-imposed guilt while I practiced my sin. And that it something that many legalistic Christians do not understand – The very Child of God that you condemn probably already feels condemned. Unfortunately the condemning nature of my church family made me want to stray further away.

    I strongly believe that the legalists out there haven’t experienced forgiveness to the degree that others have. Just like the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair…she was forgiven much, therefore she loved much. We should all choose to love much, because whether we take the time to realize it or not, we have all been forgiven much.

    God bless you in your ministry.

    • Katelin, you said a mouthful when you said, “I strongly believe that the legalists out there haven’t experienced forgiveness to the degree that others have.” You are absolutely correct.

      Thanks for sharing.

  23. roberto lamada tostada permotta

    What i’ve learned is that certain rules one breaks that only effects the person breaking them seem to be imo the rules that are what legalists go after regarding their judgementalism..ie,movies or music one enjoys and video games,etc..it would absolutely kill me to do anything to hurt someone else,as committing adultery,stealing,gossiping,faslely accusing,murdering,etc..but what I apply the term legalism to are the rules or laws set down that only effects the the person not feeling bound by those rules..i leave a movie theater after the movie ,feeling happy ,thusly I’m hurting nobody yet i’ve been entertained for 2 hours..i play cd’s by bands I grew up listening to (blondie,psychedelic furs,etc) and am happy and content and again I haven’t effected anyone else in the process..the same can be said of tobacco use and moderate drinking,depending on one’s convictions.i don’t drink or smoke but would never judge someone who drinks a couple beers or smokes tobacco..i often wonder why so many Christians really believe that God is so ever angry or upset with Christians who at the worst,listen to rock music or enjoy a couple movies every day.it’s as though they believe that we’re so judged by our performance,that we have to be ‘visibally pure’ of ANY flaws ,any imperfections..many truly believe that perfect obedience means literally being ‘performance’ perfect.the idea seems to be that if you’re not striving to follow the letter of the law,then you’re not striving hard enough to be like Christ,(somehow legalists associate the two .)ie,you’re not striving for that christlike ‘perfection’ if you’re willingly watching movies or listening aerosmith or drinking a beer with your dinner,etc…this belief comes from a misunderstanding of both scripture as well as the intent and personality of Christ ..when someone truly believes that a person who has a tremendous relationship with god and is clearly a holy person but believes that person is being targeted by god’s anger merely because of a beer or a movie or music collection,then someone clearly doesn’t understand god.

  24. What I’ve learned is definitely that though I’ve stumbled in my past on things I know can be rules legalistic especially in christian realm. Such as drinking– yep, I drink beer occasionally and no I’m not stopping and no I don’t drink to get drunk. Sometimes I feel all these rules are so strong because some people just don’t believe in the faith of humanity anymore and that we ACTUALLY can still have moderation and SELF control!!!
    I mean, really isn’t that what it all boils down too?
    I believe in boundaries and watching where you step sure, but I don’t believe in cursing your life to the point where you can never wear jewelry or heels or put makeup on or drink a beer with friends after a long day at work. I don’t doll up all that much and I believe in modesty, but better believe when I’m married and I have a husband–it doesn’t mean I’m never going to doll up for him because that’s “sinful.” Man I feel like I’m ranting. I’m going to stop now.
    I have much passion about this but more so because at the age I’m at. I’m 23, and there are many things in which people believe “youth” can’t do because we don’t have self control. Actual everyone has that. With God and by Gods grace–ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE 🙂 it’s only by Gods grace I’m waiting to have sex for marriage. It’s also God’s grace that I’ve never been kissed…but not because I’m legalistic, I am simply waiting for the right man! 🙂

    • Thank you so much for stopping by, Savannah. I appreciate your openness.

      Like I have told a few others, I feel like the first legalistic act made by man was when Adam somehow gave the impression to Eve that touching the forbidden fruit would result in death. God never told Adam that touching the forbidden fruit was wrong, but somehow that’s what Eve thought when she spoke to the Serpent. Did Adam place that limit on Eve in order to keep her safe? Did Eve assume, therefore, that the boundary set before her was from God? All I know is that’s the way things so often work these days. Grace is often sacrificed on an altar of legalism disguised as protection.

      Now, I must admit, I am not only beginning to feel old, but I am acting old. My first thought when I read your comment was “how long of a past have you had to stumble in?” You’re only 23? Good grief! I’m over twice your age! Do you realize how many more times I’ve stumbled since I was 23? Ha! See, I’m sounding like an old man who brags about walking to and from school uphill both ways – in the snow.

      One of the worst things about being your age is that you are older and wiser than you used to be, but you’re still young enough to feel like you’ve got time to recover from mistakes. People in their 20’s live a lot harder and push the boundaries a lot further than those who have lived an extra 20 years. When you get older you will look back and think, “My God, how did I survive? Why did I say that? Why didn’t I do _____ when I could?”

      God bless you, Savannah. I don’t mean to be hard or pessimistic. Part of me wishes I could be your age again. But in all honesty, you are in for more blessings than you can possibly conceive. If you can hold out for marriage like you are planning, oh wow! If you can save that first kiss (my daughter Katie is doing the same thing), you will NEVER regret it! The ones who make fun of you are either ignorant, jealous, or both.

  25. I just finished reading all of these comments.
    Now I am thinking about my story, and how it relates to the questions posed you posed in your post before the comments were posted.

    Q. “Have you struggled with the perceived lists of do-and-don’ts that others have made?”

    A. I ham 48 years old and have been struggling with those lists for 35 years now. However, I am much less apt to falling into the trap of thinking that I might actually get it totally right during my earthly life. My thoughts, my words, and my deeds, no matter how good they might seem, will always be immeasurably lower than the Lord’s thoughts (Isaiah 55)

    Q. “Have you had experiences with legalistic pastors, churches, families, etc.?”

    A. My theological (things pertaining to salvation) beliefs would probably line up most closely to the beliefs of some Baptists and some Presbyterians, However, we are to some extent molded by our experiences, and carry baggage. Have you ever seen a suit case with stickers on it showing where it has been.? My spiritual suitcase is plastered with them: Southern Baptist, Pentecostal Holiness, Assembly of God, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Nazarene, Free Will Baptist, Landmark Missionary Baptist, Associate Reformed Presbyterian, and Cumberland Presbyterian, and Primitive Baptist.

    I have attended all of those denominations since I first moved to Arkansas back in 1978 and was a very active member of a Christian and Missionary Alliance Church for 9 years, a Freewill Baptist Church for 2 years. Then after embracing the doctrine of security of the believer (which I still embrace) I was a very active member of a Landmark Missionary Baptist Church for 5 years.

    To sum it all up, my answer is “Yes, I have had experiences with legalistic pastors, churches, families,”.

    Q. “Take the time to tell us your story. Where are you in your walk with Christ, if you are even on the road?”

    A. I have been a believer in Christ as far back as I can remember. It all began…in my Grandmother’s lap when she taught me how to take my hands and make a little church and recite “Here is the church, and here is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people” 🙂

    Oh, how I loved my grandma! ❤

    Then around the age of 5 or 6 my parents and I were invited to a huge Baptist Church in San Jose, California. I believe I shared that experience in the "about" section of your blog. We didn't attend that church after I was saved and baptized. We didn't often visit churches, but I believed what little I had been taught. Then in 1978 when I was eleven years old we moved to Arkansas. The denominations I listed above are almost in chronological order. I will never forget that day in Sunday School class when I was 12 or 13 at that Pentecostal Holiness church, and I was asked how I knew I was saved…how when I told them what I knew. They told me that saved people do not always stay saved, and I believed them, because they were grown ups. 😦

    That was when my journey in the world of churches began. For over 20 years I went from denomination to denomination hoping to find the secret, so I could finally become able to live in such a way that I wouldn't have to be afraid of losing my salvation. Then finally in 1999 I embraced the doctrine of security of the believer, and finally had my assurance of salvation restored after it was lost at the age of 12 or 13.

    Q. "How do you try to live your life now?"

    A. I love the Lord so much. I love my husband so much. He, too, is a Christian, and we will celebrate our 28th anniversary this June. We currently are "doing church" in a more organic way assembling with two or more here, two or more there until we find a local and visible church… "with the steeple on top". We left the "Landmark" Missionary Baptist Church in 2008, and have attended some other churches a few months here, a few months there. We have learned so much, are learning so much, and looking forward to learning even more! This recent 7 year journey has taught us a lot about the temptation for Christians to forget that they are pilgrims (Hebrews 11:13-40) Service? Three passages of scripture come to mind: ( James 4:13-16, Matthew 6:1-4, and Mark 9:38-40)

    Q. "What advice do you have, if any, for others who may be struggling to become free to live in grace?"

    A. Pray, asking the Lord to show you in scripture, and in any way that He would deem effective. Know and Believe that Jesus loves you with an eternal and unfailing love, and that He absolutely delights in showing His children how to live in grace. Run into his arms of grace, and allow yourself to embrace it! When you truly understand that His grace is for you… then you will be able to allow it work itself out into your life.

    • To where do I send the gold-star sticker for the most detailed response? 😉

      • Now that you have seen my resume, what do you think? Am I ready for seminary? I am chuckling as I type, but I must seriously confess that I would jump at the chance to enroll in one.

      • You know, that’s a good question. The answer (in no particular order) would depend on what you’d want to do with your education, your previous education, your theological bent (not just regarding salvation), and whether or not you’d think it’s worth the expense (unless you chose a less-expensive option). One thing is for sure: you write well. That’s a must.

        I will have to say that if you did start looking for a credible, theologically-conservative seminary, you probably won’t find much supporting Landmark-ism. But then again, I don’t own a seminary listing, so who knows?

  26. I had lots of typos in my long comment. Sorry about that.

  27. “You know, that’s a good question. The answer (in no particular order) would depend on what you’d want to do with your education, your previous education, your theological bent (not just regarding salvation), and whether or not you’d think it’s worth the expense (unless you chose a less-expensive option). One thing is for sure: you write well. That’s a must.

    I will have to say that if you did start looking for a credible, theologically-conservative seminary, you probably won’t find much supporting Landmark-ism. But then again, I don’t own a seminary listing, so who knows? ”

    Thank you so much for complementing me on my writing! I love to write! I went to college full-time from the fall of 2011-April of 2013, but had to drop out, because my husband became ill and had to retire about 15 years earlier than we had planned (and with no pension). I originally was going to major in middle level education with an emphasis on language arts and social studies. Then right before I dropped out I was thinking about changing my major to sociology and minor in anthropology. They are majors that I think I would enjoy, and have the added bonus of requiring a lot less math than other majors. I am weak in subjects like algebra. I loved to write papers; made A’s in my composition classes and in my world civilization classes.

    I hope I am not making a pest out of myself commenting so much here, but there is one question you asked in this post that really means a lot to me. It is this one:

    “How do you try to live your life now?”

    I gave you an answer pertaining to grace versus legalism, but in the broader sense, I am asking myself that question. I ask myself that question every day. I want to live more yielded to the influence of the Holy Spirit.

    A number of factors have lead to a lifestyle where we stay at home most of the time. Two of them are physical limitations (both my husband’s and mine), and an extremely diminished income…not low enough to be eligible for food stamps, or welfare, but low enough that we have to be very frugal…are literally making one tank of gas in the van last for an entire month.

    Two nice things about that are that I have an ABUNDANCE of time to pray, meditate, and study the word, and also that if a friend has a need they know they can drop by any time, and have a visit, a meal, a study, a shoulder to cry on…you name it. 🙂

    The disadvantage is I am sometimes lonely, my nest is empty, my heart has hurts (prodigal “and recently estranged” son and daughter), and I worry about the sin of idleness,..,,that I might not be “truly” a “good” steward of my time talents, and abilities……sigh. 😦

    “Landmark-ism”? We had never heard of that term when we joined that church. It wasn’t written on the sign. It wasn’t too long after we joined that the pastor mentioned that they were Landmarkers and proud of it. Then he taught a series on a book called “The Trail of Blood”. That combined with all of their emphasis on re-baptizing anyone who wanted to join who hadn’t been baptized by the “proper authority”, another “Missionary Baptist” pastor,,,all of the elitist stuff…it started bothering my husband and me.

    I am not sure what you mean when you use the word conservative. We are conservative when it comes to supporting the sanctity of life and traditional family values. But we are also laid back, like our 70’s and 80’s rock album collection, our “Star Trek” movie collection, and a nice glass of wine with dinner.

    The whole seminary thing…it has an appeal, because I would like to be a better scholar of the word. I met a woman who was a pastor of a Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and found myself a little envious. They are a sort of conservative denomination…NOT like PCUSA. They practice infant baptism…explained to me their reasons…not sure how I feel about that. They aren’t 5 point Calvinists either, but I am not sure about all of those points myself. Limited Atonement really bugs me….gives me the creeps…just being honest…someone once said “mercy” was my spiritual gift…probably the “mother” in me. Oh, who am I kidding?… seminary probably isn’t an option for me. LOL

    If you have any advice I welcome it. If not please pray for me…that the Lord would have His perfect way in my heart, and in my life.

    • It is a pleasure to talk back and forth with you about these things, and I can tell you must be longing for the outlet 😉 I’ll help any way I can.

      By “conservative” I mean theologically-speaking. In other words, pretty much what you seem to be. Liberal theology would be more like what you would find in places that condone same-sex marriage; teach that heaven and hell are only states of mind; focus more on social justice than on the spiritual condition of man; question the infallibility of Scripture; and worse, doubt the divinity of Jesus Christ.

      If you ever want to pursue something non-traditional, I would recommend Covington Theological Seminary in Rossville, Georgia. They are not a “degree mill,” but are non-accredited, mostly because they do not want to be tied up with government red tape and restrictions. They are inexpensive, but unlike some places you can work with online, their courses are tough – there’s no faking it. I got a degree there before I went back to school to pursue my accredited Bachelor’s and Masters in Ministry from Temple. I’m going to go back to Covington, however, for my Doctorate in Ministry.

      Here’s a link: http://www.covingtonseminary.org/

  28. Hello. Could you delete my comments where I mentioned my kids. I broke the golden rule when I mentioned them. Sorry about that.

  29. Jim

    Dear Sir ,
    You aren’t what you say you are … The concept of ” Legalist” comes from the Judaizers in The Book of Galations.
    If you read Romans 14, I think you will actually see that you are a brother with a “weak” conscience ; that goes around Judging the “Strong”… You state about John R Rice – ” He wasn’t flawless”… Who is????? Jesus Christ alone…
    I challange you to STUDY what the word of God says about itself before you promote doctrinally flawed and misleading versions . The NIV removes references to the Dietu of Jesus Christ by changing ” God” was manifest in the flesh to “He” was manifest in the flesh… The ESV removes the word “Now” in the passage where Jesus states ” Now, is my kingdom not from hence” by removing Now, the editors of the ESV change the passage to say that Jesus ‘s Kingdom is not from earth when in truth – one day it will be from here . Just not Now as stated in the KJB. Well, you and John R Rice had the use of translations in common…Judges of the texts instead of accepting the Received Text….have a great day and don’t think to highly of your self .

    • Thanks for stopping by, Jim. I won’t argue with you, for I’m sure it would be pointless, especially regarding translation issues, but the “Legalist” term is more flexible than you are giving it credit. There are a lot of legalists, in my opinion, who are anything but week.

  30. bottom line is maybe i don’t draw the line at the same place someone else does whether it be regarding music or movies!! in my opinion ,mInisters waste way too much time on those issues!!When i go to church i don’t care to hear a message that bashes me for watching Seinfled or because i collect secular music…I go to Church to priase the lord and be uplifted ..I’get sick of hearing people say stupid things like admitting they desire to hear messages that step their toes..really??? There’s more than one type of legalism people..legalism is the idea that ANY secular actvity stunts spirituality or takes points away from your godly scorecard..I have favotitr tv shows i watch every week and i watch secular movies as well as being a collector of music from the 1940’d to the current..from andrews sisters beach boys to metallica..my verstile taste according to the ‘church’ is evil..THIS is why young people avoid church..it’s not because of rules,it’s because the rules that the church apply are finatical…it’s great to preach not lying,stealing, and how to become a more spiritual person..but here’s the basic message>>> to have a closer walk with jesus,throw away your rock music and don’t ever watch anything but TBN…..I’m a Christian but i believe most of today’s so called “professed” Christians are idiots…I mean really…Do you think you’re a god that say to get up and personal with him that throwing away ‘things’ is the solution??? good grief//….legalism…

    • I just happened to still be up at 2:43 a.m. because I don’t have to drive a school bus in the morning – it’s Christmas break. Therefore, I was able to see your comment “fresh off the presses.” Thank you for taking the time to express your thoughts…and grievances.

      I hope you don’t think ALL churches teach that you should get rid of EVERY secular influence or activity. I don’t preach that, nor do most other pastors I know, regardless of the denomination. There are some pastors and church leaders that DO teach that, but not all of them…not even most.

      The thing I would stress to my congregation, however, is to make sure that whatever you take part in or allow into your daily life is beneficial, not detrimental, to your walk with Christ. There are many things which could be considered amoral, not immoral; yet, the world would love us to think that what is actually immoral, ungodly, and spiritually harmful is actually perfectly amoral, neither good nor bad.

      When I preach I rarely preach AGAINST things; my normal focus is on the heart. If we maintain a heart that thirsts after holiness, after the very presence of God, then how we live in this world will be affected, along with the things from which we derive entertainment. The Holy Spirit is in charge of convicting you as to what is OK and what is not, not me or any other preacher.

      But, again, thanks for stopping by and leaving an honest comment. I pray you find something encouraging while you’re here, even if you DO find I step on some toes once in a while 😉

  31. Shey

    Hi! I want to share my recent struggle of being legalistic. I read the Bible a lot years ago and God has taught me many things about Him. I read it day and night and I even have separate time to study subjects about the Bible. Until recently, my eyes change from seeing positive to seeing negtive things about Christians, specifically my churchmates. It’s because I see them very worldly and they even dont like discussing much about the Bible hich i long to do with them. So i became bitter and thought that they’re not true christians at all. And i guess my being legalistic started there. I felt very heavy all the time especially wen i do something wrong. I thought that i dont deserve God’s love cuz i dont please him. Also, i will be honest, i dont believe in Once Saved Always Saved doctrine which i used to believe. I had some debates with friends on fb and they accused me of not having a real relationship with Christ, making me unsaved. And because of that, i questioned my faith and became really depressed. I always cry out to God asking Him why He brought me into this situation whereas all I was asking Him is to tell me the truth. And days passed and it got worse. It’s like im losing faith. And now im asking myself why i dont appreciate the work of Christ anymore tho i believe it, i also dont feel like i love my neighbors, but im trying to do wat God has commanded on how to live my neighbors, but i wonder y i feel loving animals more than people. I prayed for a sick dog with tears while i prayed for a person on ICU without feeling much love 😦 but i really want to obey and love God and then love my neighbors. I always cry out for God’s mercy. And now i dont know if im a real Christian. Why is this happening? 😢

    • Thanks for writing, Shey. I can’t reply in detail at this moment because I have to go to work, but know that I’ll be praying for you.

    • Shey, it’s not easy to answer all your questions in a simple, albeit lengthy, reply. For that matter, I don’t know that discussing a whole lot here on the internet would be helpful. If you wouldn’t mind, why not email me? That way we could talk about some of the things you brought up one at a time. My email is PastorACBaker@yahoo.com. I’d love to hear from you.

      But while I am here, let me address one thing you brought up: eternal security (once saved, always saved). First, I don’t know what you have been taught about salvation, or what you believed before, but even if you go back and forth in your understanding of it, your belief as to the eternal security of the believer will not change your actual standing with Christ. In other words, believing that you can lose your salvation will not “make you unsaved.” Your Facebook friends might have mislead you in their attempt to convince you to believe how they believe.

      That being said, I do believe that once a person becomes a child of God by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, that relationship is eternal and dependent upon the faithfulness of God. But it doesn’t matter what I believe, you need to see it in Scripture. Should you like to go deeper into that topic, just let me know.

  32. Ald

    At IFB over 20 years, don’t know where time went. Started going there because I had a desire at time to go to Baptistc church, no really good Biblical churches in my old neighborhood then or even one I live in now, no car then or one now to drive around looking for another church. My oldest son went to Christian school for 9 years church used to have so that’s one big reason I also attended church, he got a scholarship from church to attend, I couldn’t afford a Christian school and always wanted him to go to one. Sometimes I wish I never started going to this church; I mean the churches around here aren’t legalistic like mine but they aren’t great either (worldly, Catholic, pro gay, female pastor, Word of Faith, name it claim it etc). It’s crazy, but at the risk of sounding paranoid I never felt like fit in, I’m shy so that obviously doesn’t help making friends but maybe I’m stubborn but since I gained some weight years ago, I don’t like how I look in skirts or dresses and won’t wear them, I don’t believe I look bad or manly in slacks but I know the pastor doesn’t like slacks on women. You can go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays and listen to sermon wearing slacks, they don’t kick you out but you have to wear a skirt or dress, obviously women, to participate at the church. Of course not participating makes me feel guilty and look bad at church but I felt like why should I have to wear a dress of there’s nothing wrong with what I’m wearing. Maybe I should have done it anyway or just left the church. I hate not going to any church at all which probably sounds crazy because even though there are a handful of women there that are friendly toward me , I really have no friends there after 20 plus years. The thing is, the church is good at preaching salvation, not worldly, not afraid to talk about sin or warn about Hell, speaks out on cults, false religions including Roman Catholicism, word of faith, prosperity gospel, fake preachers on TV etc.. They don’t seem to be discerning with their legalistic personal views (no pants for women, short hair on men, suits, KJV only, no pierced earrings for women I mean only one, no movie theaters, all contemporary Christian music is bad). There’s more women in past maybe 5 years wearing slacks but when I started there may have been maybe 1/2 other women I saw with slacks or me only in whole church. Pastor used to actually preach against this randomly in past, now he doesn’t say it maybe because there’s more women dressing like me, some he actually seems to like, but he talks about the transgender issue and said how would you feel if I was wearing a skirt? He didn’t say also women wearing slacks but I think that was implied. Also, is it just me but is it normal for a pastor to not just mention his grandson and another boy graduating from high school and also other boys sister graduating from college but to talk about this at church Sunday for like 4 weeks in a row and not only are these young people so Godly but intellectually brilliant. He makes mention of the young man and sister’s family at church alot and how Godly they are, not just past 4 weeks. He had a little service for his grandson’s graduation after evening service, I wasn’t there but he mentioned this at church in the morning a few weeks. Do lots of churches mention certain people or families at church? Maybe I’m just being jealous. When I was single before my marriage and even during divorce (not my choice) if I vwas attracted to a single man at church , it was exciting if they may have noticed me too but I also started thinking: a. Would others at church approve if that man asked me out since he’s active at church and b. He seems nice but is this man legalistic , holy than thou like some other at church? Even if we went out and he didn’t dump me, would I want to spend rest of life with him? Would I have to keep my mouth shut about some of my views? I’ve even found myself praying for a man at church I was interested in (haven’t talked to yet) asking God to help him see legalism in church , hoping maybe he would leave church and take me with him. Sounds crazy right? No good Biblical church around here.
    I don’t know if I’m being paranoid or overly sensitive but about 10 people went o mission trip to Chile this week and also last year. Asked if sponsored by church, pastor said no Sunday when l was walking out door and another man from church said no last year also. I thought if there was no sign up sheet for this at my church or talk of this how did all these people from my church all know about this trip? Are these people friends at church and got together to all go on this trip and at same time?? Is this a foolish question? The church bus leader wouldn’t give me any answers on this last year and pastor didn’t give me answer in Sunday but preceded to tell me and my teen daughter who seemed interested in going in future, that it costs about $1500 or more and it was expensive. Maybe I’m being too sensitive but was he afraid I wanted to go too? It seemed like he was discouraging me or daughter although my daughter wears her skirts to church and volunteers unlike me so she fits in better. Lol.
    I don’t know if I really don’t fit in or maybe I pushed people away being shy. Maybe talking about views I didn’t agree with line dress code got back to someone? I know it doesn’t make sense but it’s hard to leave after all these years and don’t really have support from others outside of church either. Don’t know if church would be there for me if I needed them. People who leave church are talked about as being people who maybe weren’t really saved or worldly Christians. If others have my view it’s not spoken about. I sometimes wonder how people get some of these legalistic views? The pastor always talks about how blessed he has been by God and God’s blessings on people. When going hrough divorce as middle-aged house wife with no money or career, I didn’t seem to get any support from him or most of people I told. No encouragement to go back to school for a career, no financial offers of help for a lawyer since no money for one or probono lawyer, no offers to give me a ride anywhere or even some advice for divorce to help me, felt alone. Seems like some people at church get hell and others don’t. Maybe I’m wrong, don’t know. How do pastors become legalistic??

    • I wish I has immediate answers for you. I wish there was something I could do to encourage you more than just saying I will pray for you. One thing I am going to do is share this with a few people so that they can pray, too (they won’t know your name or where you live – I don’t know that, either).

      You have definitely been part of a very legalistic, uncaring church, haven’t you? If what you say is true – and I have no reason to doubt you – your pastor sounds like an arrogant jerk, and many in the congregation (including the pastor) need a reality check.

      I don’t know why every legalistic pastor turns out that way, but many of them are taught to be that way by other pastors in their circles of influence. Many are taught that pastors are to be the unquestioned, unchallenged kings of their congregations. Unfortunately, this leads to pride and the tendency to doctrinal error (because they rarely think they are wrong and will not listen to their critics). Then, on the other hand, many legalistic pastors are that way in order to cover up their own personal sin.

      If you’d like to email me, maybe I could help you find a different church in your area. Never hurts to look. My email is PastorACBaker@yahoo.com

  33. Taco M.

    Im a teen & my family has just left an indipendent baptist church.Weve been there for over a decade.Ive always noticed even as a lil kid how guilty theyd make u feel & all the rules theyd put in place for the folks to follow.Growing up ive always thought that it was only me who felt off about the church.id been saved but i felt different about church.I knew that i wanted to be a christian but just not be a part of ‘this’ church.& with a family split & a few years later a church split i thought that it was time.So literally a few weeks ago we had a family meeting & decided to leave & join the so called ‘rebels church’ who were the members which left In the split.I feel like i have a knew life now.Praise God!

  34. My long road to Christ after 21-years in the Japanese culture is documented in an intimate memoir “The SIx-Foot Bonsai: A Soul Lost in the Land of the Rising Sun.” It was indeed a long strange trip!

  35. Lindsay

    Hello,
    My family has recently left a very legalistic church that we had been attending for 18 yrs. My husband and I both started our journey there with the Lord as teenagers and we were completely absorbed in it until recently. My mother had always warned me of the cultish behavior but I wouldn’t listen to her. I gave up many dreams and aspirations because I listened to false and twisted versions of the scripture. I was so overjoyed with my new experience with God that I allowed myself to be manipulated by a false, man made, twisted version of “Holliness” for a very long time. Still, through all of this I believe that He worked all things out for my good! We were not the only ones that left but many before us and many after . A couple of our friends that had left before us started meeting in a house for some fellowship, worship and to study the bible together. After a few weeks more and more people came for the bible study. We joined and within weeks we needed a bigger place to meet. So we rented a small building in the same area. Now after only a couple months of being in the small building and having about 80 or more people show up on a good Sunday. We are having to search for a bigger building. A good problem to have, right?! Well, even though this work is going so well, not everyone shares the same feelings of being liberated from legalism. A lot of them have been in it all their lives. So, Through all of this, we have kept somewhat of the same so called “standards” when meeting together for church. While being transparent with the leaders about how our family feels about not following the legalistic ways anymore, we are being told that the reason for keeping the dress code for now is to make sure that we don’t cause our brothers and sisters who still believe that way to stumble as talked about in 1 Corinthians 8:13. I feel like the Lord has delivered us and a few other families from that way of thinking and I almost feel bad going back to it or pretending??? Wondering if anyone can shed some wisdom? Is this scripture relevant here?

    • Lindsay, thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m a little pressed for time, yet I wanted to respond to your question in two simple ways. First, if you haven’t already, look up my post on “What to wear to Church.” Second, ask yourself a simple question about 1 Corinthians 8:13… Did Paul never eat meat? Just think about that for a while. In other words, context, context, context.

  36. Karrissa

    I grew up going to church occasionally and although believing in god not completely understanding he wanted to be much more a part of my life than that. My dad died of cancer when I was 11 years old and read the bible all the time. A pastor came to our house when my dad was sick and asked him how he could smoke cigarettes I think saying that it was wrong and I always wondered after becoming born again how my dad didn’t take his rebuke seriously. Now I’m starting to see how although I believe we should all be convinced personally on where we stand for ourselves I’m starting to see that that does not necessarily mean that others see it the same way. Who was I to judge. I have found myself doing this with friends and family. I am not saying that I am always doing this on light issues but I believe it is becoming my preoccupation and also pattern more than grace and love. I have built a shell around my son not only because I believe we should separate ourselves from this world as Christians but also because I am scared something will happen to him as it did my dad. My son has rebelled against my fears and is borderline risky because he doesn’t want to be like me. He is in theatre I once got him out of a play that had to do with characters that were into sorcery and magic. I still cant say I regret that decision but I can say I’m starting to regret this one. The most recent play he has to say the word father. Reading the script this a.m. I remembered the verse about we should call no one father except our father in heaven. (Matthew 23:9) I still cant say for certain if that is just in reference to religious leaders as that chapter talks about. But I told his teacher maybe he cant say father maybe he can just say dad. She said she truly understands and I think she truly might. But I’m feeling the bigger picture here is I with all my biblical knowledge on scriptures I am pushing these ideas on people who might not even be saved yet. I wrote her back trying to save myself and her from my legalistic sabotage and said I’m sorry with working in bible school I think I am TOO careful and sometimes because I am too careful I think I may misinterpret things. I felt scared for what I had done to her and my son. Even if we are supposed to mainly “call” our earthly dads, dads, I don’t think this applies to people like my son who don’t even possibly grasp the main messages of the bible yet and I could be turning people away with my carefulness. I am truly afraid of what I have done and where this comes from. I just cried and cried. I never told my son I contacted his teacher and I am not going to tell him he cant say that. I am seriously scaring myself. I hope someone can guide me on this or if they have ever been this legalistic that they are hurting others. I believe this trial is bringing me to a place where I’m seeing I am too legalistic like the people in matthew 23. I am so afraid for people I love to not accept Christ or to go astray but everyone has their own walk with god and I’m starting to see I’m putting legalistic things on people that I wasn’t even sure of myself. Then putting it on people who might not even be done with the salvation matters yet. I feel so bad…:((((

  37. Karrissa, my heart breaks for you! It is obvious that all you want to do is protect the ones you love. Unfortunately, sometimes that legalistic tendency in all of us can carry us away to places we will later regret visiting. I understand your pain, and maybe I can help in some small way.

    Before I go any further, let me recommend a few resources for you to consider. First, let me recommend you check out Chuck Swindoll’s book “The Grace Awakening.” You can find it online for free in some places, or used in a used book store. Any Christian book store should have it. It is a classic on grace.

    Another resource I would recommend is KeyLife.org. Dr. Steve Brown was very instrumental in my life (even though he’s a Presbyterian – ha!). Just browse the website and you’re sure to find something that will bless you.

    If you haven’t yet used it, I would also recommend BlueLetterBible.com as a great, free website for Bible study. What makes it great – besides being free – is that it is very user friendly. For even a greater list of commentaries and study tools that are free online, I would also recommend PreceptAustin.org. It’s not as quick and user friendly, but it’s loaded with stuff – and it’s free.

    Also, check out GotQuestions.org, if you haven’t already. I trust this website and recommend it – even go to it myself – for answers to tough questions. You can find a link to it on my homepage in the sidebar.

    To make things a little easier for you, here is a link to the answer to the question you were asking regarding calling someone “father” on earth. https://www.gotquestions.org/father-Matthew-23-9.html.

    If you would like to talk further, I would love to continue the conversation. Feel free to contact me by email, if you’d like, at PastorACBaker@yahoo.com. You can, of course, keep commenting here, too. I will respond as best I can.

    I will be praying for you and your son, tonight. God bless you and hang in there. Just know that God is bigger than our mistakes and can take what is broken and not only heal it, but make it brand new! Yes, you’ve made mistakes with the way you’ve handles some things, but you know what? God is sovereign and His grace is sufficient for every need.

  38. Karrissa, I can hear the heart shattering situation you are in from your post! I left an extreme legalist Apostolic (Oneness) Pentecostal church in January of this year. The entire focus of this church was legislating (controlling) every behavior, every thought, stance and activity of its members. The problem with extreme legalism is it creates stories just like the one you’ve told. We begin to see the world through the eyes of our legalism, meaning everyone who isn’t ‘us’ is wicked, and evil. If people don’t dress like us, they are insincere Christians. Certainly real Christians don’t wear cross necklaces (or necklaces at all!).

    Worst of all, we (The ministers) setup up a pedestal of righteousness and condemn all who don’t attain that same level of performance. We then as followers do the same and this creates an us vs. them mentality, thereby we sabotage our capabilities of reaching the lost. Jesus came to the sick, the adulterers, the sinners and said, come with me! Legalists say, ‘When you become righteousness, you can be near me’.

    Everything @Anthony Baker said is phenomenal, I only want to add one resource that can help you. I know because its been a god-send to me. And that is understanding the trap you were in and how to break free.
    This book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse is a godsend.

    I’m praying for you, your son and your family. That Grace would take control of your lives and allow you to fulfill Gods will in being a light setup on a hill. God bless you,

    • Thanks for the added input, brother!

      • My pleasure Anthony, I hope to be a regular around here. I appreciate your writings. I also appreciate being called brother…seems a simple thing, but in Oneness Pentecost, if you aren’t Pentecost, you are lost, and if you are lost, you cannot be a brother. Still something I’m working through.

        God bless,

    • Lindsay

      My family and I have also left a “legalist Apostolic (Oneness) Pentecostal church” this October. My husband and I had been attending for over 18 years. Since we were teenagers. I am going to get this book also, thank you for the recommendation. It’s so nice to hear that we are not alone.

      • Hello Lindsay, it’s great to hear about other souls set free! Praise God that you can now love and know God in the way He meant it to be, through Faith!

        I was a member for 15 years and was absolutely stunned to find out how many people were in the same position I was. Until I made the decision to leave I hadn’t researched any of these books. God bless your journey!

  39. Russ

    I grew up in a capital “I”, capital “F” baptist church that was founded on legalism. Also, went to school at one of the “notable” Christian schools in the country. Legalism almost destroyed my life.

    Let me first give you a very loose definition of legalism from my experience / perspective – Christians living in an unrealistic and judgemental environment that fosters fear rather than grace, allowing leaders to use guilt as the prime motivating factor.

    It is this fear that pushes legalistic Christians to extremes – the binary world of “blacks” and “whites”. There can be no “gray” in the void, as that would allow individuals to have some flexibility in their own interpretation of comparatively minor “standards”. Legalists are afraid of the “gray.” This fear creates an artificial set of dos/don’ts that are supposedly based on scripture.

    It was after my mother had died that I saw the hypocrisy of this religious “attitude.” My father was asking, “Why?” and being told that good Christians never ask God that question. My mind clicked to Christ on the cross as He asked the Father, “Why have You forsaken Me?” No one had any answers, or comfort, for my heartbroken father. That was the last straw.

    Only through learning of the struggles of others with this type of out-of-control philosophy of Christianity did I find freedom. That’s another thing legalists do – they isolate individuals, the ol’ divide-and-conquer mentality.

    Perfectionism is the fuel that the legalism engine feeds upon. And, when man makes the rules, some of us just aren’t going to “measure up” to their standards. Legalists (as I did) spend more time pointing the finger at others, rather than notice the digits pointing back. Introspection is the legalist’s enemy.

    Just some thoughts about my experience.

    • Thanks for the comment. Sounds like our experiences were very similar. However, I do hope your faith was not broken under weight of legalism.

      • Russ

        Pastor Baker, my faith is much greater than at any time I was under the unbearable weight of legalism. God has led me through some rough patches of ground that would be “anathema” for a legalist to travel, especially in front of others. Coming out the other side, my faith in the Lord has always been strengthened (eventually), and He’s been able to use my experiences to help others who’ve found themselves in the same plot of ground.

        Thank you for hosting this site. So many don’t realize that others have been or are going through the same struggles with this snake.

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