Legalism can take on many forms. Some Christians take on denominational forms of legalism, don’t dance, don’t have fancy things, while others follow strict biblical requirements for personal adherence, don’t eat unclean meat, don’t participate in worldly celebrations, both may refer to being in the world but not part of it. In order to follow a Godly path we should follow the Berean example and scrutinize scripture. The Bible has many regulations covering ceremonial law, civil law and moral law. Ancient Israel had no division between church and state. Mosaic law was all encompassing. When deciding to follow a particular law it’s helpful to know what kind of law it is.
The biblical laws that apply to Christians today would be the moral laws. The civil laws, though they may be good, have been replaced by individual countries. Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial laws such as offerings when he was crucified. The tearing of the temple curtain that separated man from God displayed this when Jesus died. The words of Jesus, it is finished, applied to more than his life.
John 19:28-30 New King James Version
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
Matthew 27:48-51 International Standard Version
48 So one of the men ran off at once, took a sponge, and soaked it in some sour wine. Then he put it on a stick and offered Jesus a drink. 49 But the others kept saying, “Wait! Let’s see if Elijah will come and save him.” 50 Then Jesus cried out with a loud voice again and died. 51 Suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth shook, rocks were split
A legalistic mindset can be hard to change. Wanting to live your life based on biblical laws is a good thing, but keep in mind those laws were created for specific purposes, depending on what area of life the law covered. The Bible tells us God looks on our hearts, for that is where following in love starts. What motivates you to follow Jesus?
1 Samuel 16:7 English Standard Version
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”