Legalism is a bit more complex than some people think I believe. What might seem legalistic to some might not be, or vice versa. Some might see me as a legalist because I now wear a headcovering, when that's just not so. It's something I struggled against and ignored and excused and took lightly at various stages of my life. Now for the Amish (most of them) I believe it is legalistic because they do it because that's the rules and they have their rules about what types of headgear are deemed headcoverings and what types are not deemed to be headcoverings... for instance the Bible says that a man should never pray with his head covered and a woman should always cover her head when praying- The Amish interpret that to mean that the woman must ALWAYS cover her head in readiness for prayer but there is a double standard. Amish men wear hats which the Amish have decided are not "headcoverings" by their customs! So for women the passage is taken literally and constantly but for men it is taken neither literally nor constantly -they made up new rules to suit themselves. Amish woment don't wear a headcovering or not wear it out of a heartfelt leading from The Lord, they wear it because those are the rules. That is legalistic. Again, I don't think that all of them are this way, just that alot, likely most, are because this is how they are raised. I'm sure some do what is right for God rather than because of the Ordnung. God bless them for it! It's very hard to find a right attitude about something you have been raised to do religiously or legalistically because you have some internal sense of pride in the fact that you always do it right. God looks at your motives though and if your motive is pride and/or habit- not good. (I wonder is it better to do the right thing for the wrong reason like the Amish or the wrong thing for the right reason... I don't know.) I wear a headcovering now because after all that running around it and toying with it for so long (putting my hands over my ears and making excuses as to why it didn't apply to me or to my time period or culture or...), I finally got into a deeper relationship with God and then it CLICKED that it wasn't about the rules (following all the rules just because they are the rules is called RELIGION and religion is legalism! I don't want Religion, I want a Relationship!), it was about something I do for my creator to say, "I love you and I respect you!" Just like you don't have to get hubby's opinion before you go places or buy things, but you do it because you want him to know that you respect and love him. If he were to force you to do that or you do it out of fear then that's like legalism, but when you do it from your heart it is not legalism, it's something truly beautiful - a sweet relationship!
In the Old Testament, they attained salvation by legalism. They followed the rules and made a sacrifice (another rule) to attone for any rule-breaking. In the New Testament, we were freed from legalism by the ultimate sacrifice of Love. The parallel in our personal lives; our relationship with HIM replaces legalism with Love. We're still following the same rules, but a right motive conveys love, a wrong one conveys pride. As a parent, which means more to you: when your kids do what you tell them just because it's the rules, or when you see that they are doing what is right because they love you?
PART 1: Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged
> PART 2: Religion and Legalism
PART 3: God Bless The Pioneers of New Ideas
PART 4: Incorrectly Politically Correct
PART 5: Feel-Good Theology