Legalism Robs You of Happiness
By Rick Warren

“I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” Philippians 3:9 (NLT)

Realizing there’s nothing you can do to make God love you more is one of the most liberating feelings in the world—and it is a key to happiness. 

The Bible says, “We Christians glory in what Christ Jesus has done for us and realize that we are helpless to save ourselves” (Philippians 3:3 TLB).

Each time you forget this truth and think you’ve got to somehow earn God’s love, that’s legalism—and it robs you of happiness. 

Legalism is trusting in what you can do for God instead of trusting in what Jesus has already done for you. It’s following a list of rules and regulations to prove yourself worthy, and it’s a trap that keeps you from relaxing in God’s grace. 

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Paul knew how to relax in God’s grace. He said in Philippians 3:9“I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ” (NLT). In other words, the way you earn the love of God is this: You don’t earn it. It’s not about your performance; it’s about his pardon.  

How do you know when you’re being legalistic? When you’re being legalistic, you’re often judgmental of other people. That’s because it’s easier to be critical of others when you don’t feel accepted and loved yourself. Why would you want other people to feel good about themselves when you don’t feel good about yourself?

On the other hand, how do you know when you’re living by grace? When you’re living by grace, you’re gracious to others. You find it easier to forgive because you recognize that God continues to forgive you. And since you’re not trying to earn your way to heaven, you can relax.

Every morning, remind yourself of God’s grace by praying, “Lord, today I am reminding myself that I’m completely forgiven.” 

The more grace you live by, the more joy you’ll have.   

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