Three categories of Legalism in the New Testament:
1. Keeping the Law – seeking to obtain righteousness by obedience to law apart from faith.
These are the people who try hard to keep all the laws, living life under dos and don’ts in order to be righteous.
2. Fencing the Law – seeking to fence the law and to add human requirements into the obligations of God
People in this category fence the law for their interest and add up other man-made laws, rules, regulations for their service.
3. Rejecting the Law – seeking to substitute for obedience by human religiosity
Most often, Christian also forget that there should be balance between our piety and obedience to the Word of God. People in this category try to substitute the centrality of the Word of God in our life by moving toward disproportional life of piousness. Therefore, the service of the Word must precede piety.
Obedience is not legalism. God surely condemns legalism but he so desire obedience from his people. Not a single verse throughout the Bible says that God is disappointed because of his peoples’ obedience to Him.