2 Questions on Justification: 1) How Does a Justified Person Deal with the Sin of Legalism?

After I preached on justification, I had two questions that came to me that I wanted to share with others. I first of all desire to thank God for their humility in asking these questions. My attempt in this post is to pass on the questions and hopefully provide helpful answers to you. These will serve as my next two posts.

Question one

You gave a list of questions in your sermon on diagnosing legalism in our hearts (see previous post). After hearing that list, I am convinced and feel guilty about being a legalist. What do I do now? Or stated another way, “If we feel the weight of our sin, specifically, we feel guilty for legalism, how can we deal with it rightly?


This is how a justified person should deal with any sin, whether it is legalism or license.

  1. Confess your sin– I am guilty of legalism… or anger or lust. (Don’t’ run from it seeking to escape your sin- see previous post. Definitely confess your sin to God and if applicable, confess to the one you sinned against as well.) This keeps me from living in denial where the cancer of sin kills the soul.
  2. Confess your status– My status by faith in Jesus is that I have been declared not guilty because Jesus died for this sin and his righteousness is mine. This is how God views me and he is wildly generous, excited to exert his full empowering, forgiving, life-giving grace upon me. Failing to do this usually keeps me under the waterfall of accusations that come from Satan (cf. Zech 3:1-5). Another way to say this is to say, “Trust in God’s promises towards his children.”

We glorify God when we plead his promises (In this case, pleading the promise that he justifies sinners. He declares you not guilty and clothes you with righteousness). He loves to hear the loud outcry of needy souls. It is his delight to bestow favors. He is more ready to hear than you are to ask. It is God’s nature to keep his promises. Nothing pleases our Lord better than to see His promises put into circulation.- CH Spurgeon (emphasis mine)

Your battle at this stage is to put God’s promises “into circulation,” that is, to believe the fullness of God’s love for his people, his posture of forgiveness as you trust in His Son, and his power to change you by the power of the resurrection

3. Confess your inability- Just as I am unable to justify myself (unable to make right this wrong before God by working for his approval), I am also still unable to get rid of my guilt no matter what I try to do. Confessing my inability puts me in the posture of humility and primes the pump for living in and heralding God’s ability to do what I can’t do.

4. Live in Christ’s ability– So I will not be indifferent to sin, but I will trust in God’s declaration over me and his power in me to do what is right. We agree with Paul it is by the grace of God that we are what we are. And in his grace I will not sit and sulk in guilt, I will trust him and live to enjoy Him to the fullest. In his grace, I will now fight against my sin- this sin of legalism…anger, lust, etc.- for my joy, the joy of others, and the glory of God.


About Sean Cordell

Rescued from my sin by Jesus, husband to Dana for almost 11 years, daddy to Elijah (7), Jadon (5), and Mercy (1), Pastor of Treasuring Christ Church a church plant in downtown Raleigh, NC View all posts by Sean Cordell

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