Let’s clear something up, “Legalism” is not “someone obeying the Word of God” – it is adding to or subtracting from the actual Word of God so that someone can put forth an outward appearance of “holiness” when their hearts and minds do not love God or serve God but only serve their own pride.
And “lawlessness” is either completely denying the Word of God, or perverting it into believing that grace entitles us to sin freely and not love or serve or obey God.
Both of these are the broad way that leads to destruction. But there is another way where the cure is administered to our hearts, and our desires are changed from sinful disobedience to grateful obedience, when our love is shifted from self to a love and awe of God, when our lives are laid down so that we can live.
If you believe, if you love Him and know that He has called you to be His people, than take your eyes off of your sin and look to the cross and the empty tomb to know that His grace is sufficient, not just to forgive but to deliver into new life! Turn away from sin, guilt, shame, and the foolish arrogance of “doing as you please” to learn what is best, to build upon this foundation what will not be burned away.
I say this because some would use the pointed finger of “legalism” as an excuse and justification for their continuing in sin, as if Jesus came to gather up and celebrate sinners and sin, instead of the fact that: “He came for sinners, to bring them to repentance.” And others would use the pointed finger of “lawlessness” to overlook the grace and power of God that must be the engine and cure, alive and present inside a vessel, so that no man can boast about his own obedience but only give all the glory to God for what is taking place in his own heart by the power of the Holy Spirit.
So if you have the foundation of Jesus Christ, if you are truly believing, in heartfelt surrender and love to God Almighty, if you are in fact a vessel for the Holy Spirit that convicts you against sin and leads you in the light, then build well for His Kingdom.
Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames. Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. – 1 Corinthians 3:10-18 NLT