“Biblically speaking, judgment is when we tell someone that his behavior is bad when he is not really bad (Romans 14:3). Yes, but in (1 Cor 5) the behavior in the Church was wrong, but it was not to be called for what it was. Both are biblical in a fixed context. Just as sin does not mean doing things we should do, but also doing things we should not do. “And that`s the definition of judgments. Contrary to what the world thinks, judging does not only mean telling someone wrong (the Bible actually asks us to distinguish between good and evil). What is considered “legalistic” may depend on the Christian denomination; Unlike Lutheran theology, which revolves around the doctrine of justification by faith, Christians in the Anabaptist tradition (teaching salvation by “working faith”) have argued that a follower of Jesus, through attentive obedience to New Testament commandments (such as the holy kiss, head covering, and foot washing), “is a decisive proof that an individual has repented, believed, and given himself to Christ.   Anabaptist theologian Menno Simons rejected the Lutheran accusation of legalism, referring to John 14:15: Why would a person do this? Why are people so sensitive to the legalism of the rule? Because it gives us a way to feel better. Notice that whenever we add a rule to the Christian faith, it happens to be the rule we prefer and the rule we keep. And this allows us to be part of the “in” group and to consider others as part of the “out” group.
He continues: “Therefore, we must try to live our lives according to these commandments. Such behavior is not legalism. Legalism is a slavish observance of the law in the belief that it deserves merit. Closely related to the former, Sproul says that legalism “obeys outward appearances, while the heart is far from any desire to honor God, the intention of His law, or His Christ.” Legalism separates obedience from our relationship with God. “Legalism exists when people try to obtain justice in God`s eyes through good works. Legalists believe that they deserve or can earn God`s approval by following the requirements of the law,” said Thomas R. Schreiner. A legalist believes that their good works and obedience to God affect their salvation. Legalism focuses more on God`s laws than on the relationship with God. He keeps the outer laws without a truly subjugated heart. And legalism adds human rules to divine laws and treats them as divine. Sometimes legality and obedience are merged.
I have always understood that legalism tries to please God by following a set of rules instead of obeying what God teaches us in His Word. That`s pretty close to what you`d call a white fist effort. Although I would simply call it discipline, which is a good thing to have and practice. I believe there is much room for personal discipline to go hand in hand with the gospel. Self-control is one of the fruits of spirits. I think it`s too easy to believe that the gospel allows you to escape your personal responsibility. I encounter more the legalism of tone of church people, not really pastors. I met a couple who visited our church and learned that they drove an hour to be there. When I found out where they lived, I told them there was a great church in their church and a great pastor I know.
They told me that the pastor was unacceptable. It turned out that his daughter was known as a fan of the Harry Potter books. Even this pastor did not adhere to many of the teachings of a famous pastor (which should not be mentioned here). I was overwhelmed by these reasons for rejecting a very good man, but it doesn`t matter. Citing Philippians 2:12, Christian interpreter Tony Cooke explained that the term “legalistic” has often been misapplied to those who follow biblical guidelines “relating to holiness, obedience, and godly living,” concluding that “God`s grace leads us to obedience, not far from it.”  In the same vein, theologian Leonard Ravenhill summed up: “If there is something in the Bible that churches do not like, they call it `legalism.`”  Of course, this is exactly the kind of legalism that defined the ministry of the Pharisees. They were masters in the art of adding the Word of God. So much so that Jesus rebukes them: “Hypocrites. you leave the commandment of God and cling to the tradition of men” (Mark 7:6–8). Aren`t you creating legalism yourself? What about John 3? Distinguishing between three types of legalism is very useful. Yes, 2 Peter 1 speaks of making your calling and election safe, and Jesus says in Matthew 7:21 that many will say, “Lord, Lord,” and He will say that I have never known You. But we also know that God redeems everything that belongs to Him and that no one can tear it out of His hand.
If you are worried about someone you see in church who is in sin, you should confront them with love and take care of their soul. But know that the remedy is always the gospel. There is no abandonment of it. The “flesh” deepens in the understanding and articulation of the Gospel and all its implications. The law shows us our sin, but the solution is to trust Jesus – He did what you couldn`t. And all who are truly saved will see fruit! It will be the Holy Spirit, not the effort of white knuckles. He who has begun a good work in you will complete it. He saved us so that we could walk in the good works He gave us. You are right that the “motivation” is the gospel itself.
But we must continue to learn and change through the renewal of our minds. We cannot continue to try to remain ignorant. As Paul said (and this is what I mean by church doesn`t sound difficult), at some point we have to switch to meat and continue drinking milk, Paul was also very aware of this form of legalism. In Romans 14, he wanted to make sure that Christians would not judge each other on “contentious matters.” Some Christians ate meat, others did not (verse 2). Some Christians followed certain holy days, others did not (verse 5). Some Christians drank wine, others did not (v. 21). There is no such thing as “good legalism.” Good works spring from a heart that is redeemed by Christ. The works in which we walk are an act of the Holy Spirit within us (Ephesians 2:10). Faith without works is dead, but everything that is done without faith is also sin.
Faith is a gift from God, and true faith will produce good works. Denying our own efforts and turning to Christ for His righteousness is the only way. To further illustrate what legalism can look like, R.C. Sproul describes three forms of legalism. And this is the definition of sinful judgment. There is a good form of “judgment” where we distinguish between good and evil (as opposed to what the world thinks). But biblically speaking, telling someone that their behavior is wrong when they are not really bad is sinful judgment (Romans 14:3). I guess there is a good legalism (legalism and grace?) in the sense that Christians are restored to do good works that come from the law. Even if they are small steps and small beginnings. A great step in union was to realize the difference between salvation and sanctification. Which ultimately come from the Divinity. So, here too, it is out of the question to boast about what we have done and what we have not done.