A Quick Comparison of Legalism vs. the Gospel

I obey; therefore, I’m accepted.
I’m accepted; therefore, I obey.
Motivation is based on fear, punishment, and insecurity.
Motivation is based on a fruitful relationship.
I obey God in order to get things from God.
I obey God because it is within my nature to do so[1].
When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or myself, since I believe, like Job’s friends, that anyone who is good deserves good things a comfortable life.
When circumstances in my life go wrong, I may struggle, but I know that bad things[2] are not from God because He is good[3], and He will work all things together for good in my life.
When I am criticized, I am furious or devastated because it is essential for me to think of myself as a “good person.”  Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
When I am criticized, I may struggle, but it is not essential for me to think of myself as a “good person.”  My identity is not built upon my performance, but upon who I am in Christ [4],[5].
My prayer life consists largely of petition and only heats up when I am in need.  My main purpose in prayer is to ask God to control circumstances on my behalf or the behalf of others.
My prayer life consists of praise, adoration, and action on the behalf of others because a primary purpose of my life is to function as a Priest and a King in His kingdom [6],[7].
My self-view swings between one pole and another.  If and when I am living up to His standards, I feel confident – but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to people who fail.  If and when I am not living up to His standards, I feel humble but not confident – I feel like a failure.
My self-view is not based on a view of being a moral achiever.  My self-view is based upon His view of me: redeemed[8], loved[9],[10], accepted[11], conqueror[12].

[1] 2 Cor. 5:17: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
[2] John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

[3] James 1:16-18: Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or [b]shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

[4] Malachi 3:17: “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on that day when I publicly recognize them and openly declare them to be My own possession [that is, My very special treasure]. And I will have compassion on them and spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”

[5] John 10:28-29: and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 [a]My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

[6] Rev. 1:6: and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to [a]His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen

[7] Rev. 5:10: “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

[8] Gal. 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”

[9] Isaiah 41:10: “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

[10] Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

[11] Romans 8:15: “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!””

[12] Romans 8:35-39: “Who will separate us from the love of [a]Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”