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Legalism is a word that means different things to different people. At root, legalism is the false teaching that additional steps other than repentance and faith are required for a sinner to be made right with God. The apostle Paul clearly writes that Christians are saved by grace, not by works. And beyond salvation, legalism shows up in establishing expectations for Christian morality that go beyond the Scriptures’ instruction. How then do we correctly discern what is legalism from the correct application of the Bible’s moral teaching? In this video, I explain what legalism is and isn’t, and provide a few markers to help us recognize when we might be falling into legalism ourselves.

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We live in a fearful and cowardly time. The crisis we face is not a crisis of clarity but a crisis of courage.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Public Theologian at Christianity Today and Director of Christianity Today’s Public Theology Project.