How Legalism Clouds Our View of Jesus

how legalism cloulds our view 2

 Welcome back to our series on sight. Today’s post is from Abby McDonald of Fearfully Made Mom.


It’s amazing what a simple tool can do to alter our vision and boost our confidence when learning a new skill.

For as long as I can remember, my oldest son has feared getting water in his face. He loved playing in it and being around it, but as soon as water got near his eyes he always panicked. Teaching him to swim had proven difficult. That is, until the grandparents purchased him a new swim mask while on a trip to the beach.

The change was remarkable. Within an hour of using the mask for the first time, he was jumping into the pool and swimming. Both things he had never done before.

With a little help, he was able to see things he’d never seen. He swam underwater, which is something I didn’t know if I’d ever see my child do.

I stood near the steps of the pool and praised God that our son had faced this fear and overcome it. He had new vision, and approached the water with a newfound confidence.

Watching him made me realize how many of us walk around for our entire lives blind. But we don’t need a swim mask or a new set of goggles. We need Jesus.

The problem is, we don’t realize our need. Perhaps we said the sinner’s prayer at a young age and attend church on Sunday, but we don’t truly know him. We don’t see ourselves as a child of the Most High and we spend our lives trying to attain something we can’t quite pinpoint.

For much of my life, I thought I knew God. I knew the stories. I could recite the tale of Daniel in the lion’s den and name all of the books of the New Testament from memory.

But my soul was far from Him. I tried to put on a righteous act and pretend, but in my heart I knew something was off. The problem was, I didn’t know what I was missing.

I felt like I was continually on the edge of deep water and afraid if I slipped or messed up, I would fall into the unknown. I’d fall to a place where I was far from God and his mercy.

My vision was bound by a legalistic view of Him and his church, and it seemed nothing I ever did seemed to be quite good enough. Because it wasn’t.

A gospel without grace is like cistern filled with holes. You may try to drink from it, but you won’t be satisfied.

For years I drank from the hole-filled cistern of legalism and wondered why I was never full, until one day God threw me a lifeline. I remember sitting on my couch and reading words drenched in grace, telling me of his unconditional love for me. My eyes wet with tears.

When we exchange our endless striving for God’s love for unreserved grace, it changes us.

Like my son seeing underwater for the first time, we have new vision. Instead of cowering like a child waiting to be beaten every time we make a mistake, we can stand before the throne with confidence, knowing we are approaching a loving Father who sees us not through our sin, but through the blood.

Instead of living life in fear, we can embrace the abundant life He promised. The life He came to give us.

Friend, Jesus didn’t allow himself to be nailed to a cross so that you’d walk around with the weight of legalism strapped to your back for the rest of your days.

He came to rescue you. To give you a life full of purpose and grace. Come into his Light today. Lay down your baggage and receive the gift you could never earn.


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Abby is a writer who can’t contain the love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

6 thoughts on “How Legalism Clouds Our View of Jesus

  1. Lesa Rose says:

    This is so true. Legalism stifles you. I knew of Jesus for a long time. Now I know Jesus and the more I get to know Him the sweeter it is. I just want to be intimate with him. Thanks for sharing this.


  2. Anna Smit says:

    Beautiful, Abby…and a lot of what you share is very recognizable. This- exactly: “Instead of living life in fear, we can embrace the abundant life He promised.” And what an amazing gift it is to receive.

    How is Angela doing?


    • Abby says:

      Thank you, Anna. It’s so easy to fall into that legalism trap but I’m thankful the Spirit gives us discernment. Angela is in the middle of a lot of life changes right now but is doing well. 😉 Thank you for asking!


  3. Bev @ Walking Well With God says:

    This is beautiful. So many years I spent striving with the horrible weight of legalism strapped to my back. Trying to be “perfect” somehow was like chasing a train I’d never catch. God, in His mercy, continued pouring out grace on me and I realized that if I could be perfect or righteous on my own, then I didn’t need Jesus. Christ came because I NEEDED him and he wants me to walk in the freedom for which He paid a dire price – His life. I always needed reminding every now and then and your post was timely!!
    Bev xx


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