LEGALISM: My Recovery From This Addiction

I don’t know when it started, I just remember when God spoke directly to me and told me it was wrong.

You see, I’m a recovering legalist.

There was a time in my life when I used to think it was up to me to do all the right things. To have more check marks than x marks on my list of do’s.

I’d even see people who were doing things and think about how much better I was because I wasn’t doing them.

It wasn’t like I didn’t have issues. It was just that mine weren’t as easy to see, weren’t as easy to point out. I’d see someone doing something in public that I thought was wrong and think about how much better I was because no one saw my junk.

What I came to realize is that many of these things weren’t undeniably wrong, they were just my way of judging and getting a leg up on others.

It took me some time, but I finally came to realize that God isn’t keeping score to see if He loves me or not, that’s already a given.

What He does care about is that I’m surrendered to Him, that I seek hard after Him.

Ultimately, I had to realize that God just wants me. Not my deeds, not my perfection, just me.

It’s freed me beyond explanation. What I do now, instead of trying to see another’s sins, I seek to be like Jesus.

The actions will come with it.

I’m Jonathan and im a recovering legalist.

Are you?


  1. I am with you 100% on this. For way too long I used to think that I am not too bad, since I don’t do all these ‘wrong’ things. Little did I know that the things that I did do made the things that I judged other people on, pale in comparison.

  2. I used to pride myself on this too. I was good at following rules. That hidden sin of pride and that thinking that you are superior to someone else because their sin is visible and yours are hidden…I almost thing that’s worse. So thankful for God’s grace in my life and how God has taught me through my own failures that none of us measure up.

  3. Ivey

    I find myself leaning toward legalistic tendencies. But I have two real pet peeves. 1) people who claim that what they believe isn’t legalism when it is. 2) people who are clearly going against the Bible but call me a legalistic for pointing it out. I think some people get confused and label any condemnation as legalism. I think it’s essential we stay somewhere in the middle. We can’t bed licentious or legalistic.

  4. I used to have a pretty big Do and Don’t Do list that made me feel right with God. Thankfully, He has chipped that away and is helping me to truly understand what it means to be the righteousness of God.

  5. Bob

    Yeah, legalism and pride go hand in hand.
    I battle this as well from time to time.

    In uncertainty – whether in our own walks and/or the trials of life – is when it seems to rear it’s ugly head. Trust and obey…hmmmm.

    Thanks, Jonathan!

  6. Kathleen

    The nature of an addiction is that it is bondage. So you were not in danger of losing your freedom, you did lose it. Now t may have just diminished other areas of your life, but call it for what it really is, bondage.

  7. KevinJ

    Yes sir, I am a recovering addict… I continually am amazed at how some of this poison still manifests itself in my thinking, words, or actions. I am just so very glad to be on my way out of it all. People like you who will be honest, open, and blog about it have been very instrumental in helping me recover. Thanks bro!…

  8. So very true! I have to fight feeling like this all the time. It’s easier now, but I still have to remember I need to look out for MY behavior, actions, and thinking rather than worrying about others’ behavior or actions.

  9. I too am a recovering legalist. Mine wasn’t from the church I grew up in. It was self-imposed. I used the rules and regulations and imposed them on myself and others. for myself, to “if I do this I will impress God more.” For others: to cover up my own shallow faith. Mine wasn’t the clothing or hair issues. It was the “going to church so many times” and “giving your tithe or you give less than the OT people” issues. I am glad I am free. Thanks for a good post Jonathan. (Came by way of Scott’s post and have also seen you on Artie’s).


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