Christian Legalism: The Dark Side of Christianity (Part 2)

Grant Swart

Although legalism and the error it represents cannot be taken lightly, I thought it might be apt to place this well known bit of humour before Part 2 of this article. It (sort of) addresses legalism, yet it is contradictory as there is no pre-requisite for us to “earn” life eternal in lieu of the perfection of the sacrifice made by the Lamb, our Lord, Jesus Christ.  

Of course, there are those out there who love and cling passionately to their legalism, who would fault the relevance or suitability of even this humour. I am well aware of some of them who do read my articles and in particular, I refer to those of immature contentious spirit who confuse a regard for the severity of sin, repentance and true sanctification with the gross error of legalism.  

A man dies and goes to heaven.  He is met at the Pearly Gates by a Heavenly custodian.

The custodian says, “Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was.

When you reach 100 points, you get in.”

“Okay,” the man says, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart.”

“That’s wonderful,” said the Custodian “that’s worth three points!”

“Three points?” he said. “Well, I professed all my life; never missed a meeting! And I supported the ministers financially and any other way I could.”

“Terrific!” responded the Custodian.  “That’s certainly worth two points.”

“Two points?!  I worked every year at the annual convention and in preparation for the convention for several days too; for years and years!”

“Fantastic, that’s good for two more points, ” he said..

“Two points!” the man cried. “At this rate the only way I’ll get into heaven is by the grace of God.”

“Bingo, 100 points! Come on in!” said the Custodian.

Mission Impossible (Part 2)

Christian Legalism – The Dark Side of Christianity

by Don Koenig

There is one side of Christianity that waters down the gospel and makes following Jesus some self improvement program for the successful. It is attractive to Western pseudo Christians looking for some purpose to a materialistic way of life. Meanwhile, thousands of real Christians are dying for their faith in Jesus Christ all over the world while these success motivated “Christians” listen to humanistic teachings and belly up to their church cappuccino bar.

I have already said plenty about this postmodern side of Christianity with its seeker friendly church programs and emergent church doctrines. I also wrote an article about the rising influence of psychology and the dominionists in Christianity who see a triumphant church ruling in the earthly domain of Satan. Yet, there is even a darker side of Christianity that few are talking about. Some in this darker side are the same ones who criticize the seeker friendly postmodern salvation lite message – so be very careful about the doctrine you receive. Nevertheless, the fact that there is a darker side in Christianity is not an excuse for anyone to accept the errors of those who water down and dumb down Christian doctrine and paganize Christianity with “New Age” concepts that lead most of Christianity down the path to Laodicea (lukewarm Christianity).

This darker side of Christianity makes Christianity something to be achieved by following doctrines from men who never understood the plan of salvation in the first place. These men believe salvation comes by obedience to keeping commandments and by following certain rules or rituals of practice. For want of a better termI will call this dark side of Christianity “legalism”.

When I say these are legalistic, I am not talking about those who believe every word of scripture and apply them in such a way that can be supported in the light of all of scripture. The Christian legalists I am talking about are those who take certain passages of scripture to imply the Bible says something that really cannot be supported in its full light. I am talking about those who try to conform to the letter without having the Holy Spirit so that they are unable to apply the scriptures with any wisdom or understanding. They are like some modern lawyers of our day who often twist the truth on purpose to achieve their desired outcome of deception.

These legalists are a cancer in Christianity

These wolves in sheep’s clothing are the rule in a few denominations and a cancer in others. They have doctrines that only confuse people or lead people to hell. The Church and Judaism have always had them. Jesus called these Scribe and Pharisee types, vipers and sons of their father the Devil. If we go back to early Christianity, Paul speaks expressly against those who want to keep everyone under the law. The law was given to show that we are imperfect and condemned to be separated from God unless God Himself did something to bridge that gap. That is why both Jews and Gentiles must come to God by the “Law of Faith”.Our example in scripture is Abraham.

The Law of Faith is belief that only God is righteous and merciful and that only He can provide the way of salvation for mankind. This plan of salvation from God was actually carried out when God the Son (Jesus) paid the requirements of the law for all on the cross. These who by faith believe God and accept the sacrifice He provided for mankind’s sins will be saved. You see, God is interested in saving people who truly trust in Him. God is not interested in having people in His presence who think they got there by their own righteousness through following the letter of the law or by rituals of obedience.

Gal 3:24  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Gal 3:25  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 

Rom 3:27  Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

Gal 5:4  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.


Throughout Church and Jewish history, there were many legalists that interpreted scriptures through black light. They even killed many who did not accept their dark interpretation. In the modern church, there are still many legalists who condemn people to hell who will not accept their demonically inspired doctrines. In one way or another they always put people back under the requirements of the law and in the final analysis they make salvation something that comes through one’s own effort. (Of course they deny that they do that, but their legalistic doctrine says otherwise.) These dark clouds without water deny that you can be saved by faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus alone. They always add something more to salvation than trusting in Jesus Christ. I will give some examples:

When thinking of legalists most will think of the smaller more fundamental denominations and sects – and they certainly have their share of legalists – but the largest denomination in Christianity is a denomination led by Pharisees who also practice legalism to the nth degree. I am talking about the Catholic Church. What this church offers their members is salvation by good works, by their own merits, and by grace dispensed by the ruling hierarchy of the church. The works and the merits that advance one to heaven come by keeping Jewish law or doctrines of men. This is not the Law of faith and the path to salvation expressed by Paul. It is a false path to salvation achieved through one’s own effort. According to the doctrine of this church, those who do not keep the law and do not find absolution from the church will not go to heaven. They at best will go to purgatory and they will remain there for quite some time to pay for their sins unless someone else does works of merit for them to advance them through purgatory. Those who do not accept the teaching of this church or who make a grievous sin that has not been absolved by a priest of this church will simply go to hell.

This is Christian legalism because they support their position by twisting passages of scripture to conform to the doctrine of their church even though it flies in the face of the clear gospel of salvation through the Law of Faith. They give lip service to Protestant Christians and even call them brothers but their doctrine that cannot change (because they claim it to be infallible) still condemns these same brothers to hell unless they return to the Catholic Church. Meanwhile, they embrace those who worship in pagan religions and Catholic leaders have even said that these pagans worship the same God. They are right they do; his name in either case is Satan.

No Catholic who believes what their church tells them has any assurance of salvation. They would consider such a belief presumptuous since salvation and the promise of heaven depends on one’s own actions in life and the action of others who intercede (even after you are dead to help advance you through purgatory). Thus, they deny that Jesus Christ atoned for all sin at the cross. Therefore, they have no law of faith within them.

Legalistic Catholic theologians have head knowledge of Christ but he is a counterfeit Christ (the spiritual attributes of their Christ for the most part is not found in the Bible). Their hope of salvation is established on a theology of works. It is not the free gift from God that is taught in scripture for all those who believe. In reality, there is not an ounce of difference between the legalistic Pharisees of the Jews and the legalistic Catholic hierarchy. Both the Jewish Pharisees and the Catholic theologians teach that works and ritual can earn brownie points with God. The largest denomination in Christendom gives lip service to Jesus but their doctrine proves to be anti Christ.

The Largest Protestant denomination is the Baptists. They basically have a correct view of how one is saved. However, even within the Baptists there are many legalistic preachers who will give salvation by faith in Jesus in one message and then take it away in the next. Some tell their members they must obey certain laws and covenants. They even doubt the salvation of those who will not be hypocrites by following the will of a legalistic elder into some oath or commitment. Some members have been put out of their church for taking a stand against such unbiblical practices. The legalists in this camp also try to make members obey Old Testament law through the flesh and they continually threaten them with the consequences of breaking God’s law rather than teaching Christians how to live as a new spirit creature in Christ that lives by the Law of Faith. All sins of the past, present, and future have already been paid for. If man could keep the law Jesus did not need to come and take our sins upon Himself on the cross. Only a personal loving relationship with Jesus will change the wicked heart of man.

Many Pentecostal and Charismatic preachers also tend toward legalism. I really think that some of this is because many of the leaders are also control freaks and pulpit bullies. They want to micro-manage every aspect of their congregation’s spiritual walk. (e.g. You better tithe to me brother because I need the money! You need to speak in tongues so I know you are sold on the Pentecostal doctrine. You need to fall when I touch you brother because if you do not you have not submitted to me and that is not acceptable etc. etc.). Many legalists in both the Baptist and the Pentecostal denominations can be found beating up on their flock each Sunday to try to whip them into Christian shape. The pastors become like drill sergeants who talk down to their squad. Many have the nature of school yard bullies rather than the nature of shepherds. Instead of beating up the flock in the flesh they might instead talk about the spiritual calling of Christians. They might tell the people what love God has for them displayed by Jesus taking their sins upon Himself and what God promises in the future for those who trust Jesus with their lives. Preaching that mankind should stay holy through their own effort will only result in failure and bring guilt that makes Christians doubt their salvation. What kind of gospel (good news) is that? The same people get saved over and over again in services and rallies mainly because someone made them doubt their salvation.

I could go on to talk about most denominations because there are legalists in all of them, but I think you understand my message by now.

I do need to talk some about the groups who are so far out of line that they not only can be called legalistic they can be called legalistic cults.

There are groups that are so blinded by black light that they think that only their own little sect has any truth and that only their sect has the correct formula for Salvation. Most Oneness Pentecostals fit this mold. They are so blind they cannot even see that the scriptures teach that God is triune. Yet, with these blind eyes, they say that anyone who does not see things their way have not been saved. They always add works to salvation. Their members claim to be in and out of the body of Christ all the time – depending on their daily walk. They always include in salvation a couple of legalistic steps of obedience (i.e. certain words said by a believer during the baptism ritual and the method of baptism by water during the ritual).

They take certain obscure passages in scripture to prove their point but ignore the overwhelming weight of scripture that demolish such beliefs. This is a classic example of a group that can quote certain scripture passages by rote but they do not have enough understanding to even figure out why their position conflicts with other scriptures and with others who also claim to be Christian. To give some in “Oneness” the benefit of the doubt a lot of the members have little education. They only know what the elders tell them. Even most of the elders have no formal education or the education came from the views of their own narrow-minded seminaries and doctrine. Therefore, erroneous doctrine is passed down from one generation to the next. (It is true because my pappy said it is true and he knows it was true because his pappy said it was true etc. etc.).

There are theChurchofChristlegalists who put the members under law and say if you are not baptized in water according to the method in their church you are not saved. There are the Seventh Day Adventist legalists who put their members under law and condemn other Christians who celebrate Sunday. Then there are the cults like the Mormons and the Jehovah Witnesses who are so legalistic and blinded by dark light that they cannot even be called Christian.

Legalists say they see but they are blind and hateful

There is one thing that most of these Christian legalists have in common:

They all assume that any others that do not see things their way are not even Christian. They claim to be in the body of Christ but their doctrine and their actions attack people that are actually in the body of Christ.

All of these legalistic groups have at least some knowledge of the scriptures and some have a great deal of knowledge of what the Bible says. So what is the problem here? The problem is they can read scripture but they cannot comprehend itThey cannot correlate what they read with other passages of Scripture in their black light. That is true of the world in general because light from the Holy Spirit is required to properly discern scripture passages. The reason they do not have light is they want to be acceptable to God by obedience and their works instead of by the Law of Faith. If they came to Jesus this way they have never been saved.

Those who find themselves in these groups would be very wise to try to find out for themselves why Christians say they teach a doctrine of works and they are legalistic. Arguing a position from the doctrine that you were spoon-fed will not bring you enlightenment. It will only bring further bondage. If your doctrine can stand in the light it will stand, but if the doctrine of your sect is darkness, that will be discovered in the true light. If you are open to truth, you will then be able to see the way out. However, if you wish to be wise in your own eyes and teach people some path to Hell, you will bring upon yourself a harsher judgment.

Christians who find themselves in a legalistic church or under legalistic teachers really need to leave. There is almost no chance that you can change them but there can be a few exceptions in those churches where the doctrine is not well established. I thought a former church I belonged to was heading in that direction when they hired a legalistic new pastor so I left pronto. I did go back because they fired the pastor over doctrine soon after I left. The church surprised me. I knew most members where not legalistic but I had little regard for their biblical discernment since many members had never read the Bible. I left because I figured I had no influence on their choice of pastors since I was a member of this church for less than a year. Unless you are in leadership in a legalistic church and have great influence to change things, find a new church that understands about the Law of Faith and gives Christians the freedom in Christ that Jesus gives.

Leave the legalistic Christian pastors alone to teach legalistic Christians who love their exclusive club of bondage.

Also read : Christian Legalism: Mission Impossible (Part 1)

Copyright © For the Love of His Truth 2008 – 2013  All Rights Reserved. No part of this page or its images may be reproduced without Grant and Elmarie Swart’s  express consent. See our contact us page for email details.


21 thoughts on “Christian Legalism: The Dark Side of Christianity (Part 2)

  1. Very well said, thank you for this article. It is something I needed to hear since I have been wanting to choose the church I attend, and have been confused about people who encourage developing a spiritual prayer language. I just dont think it should be somethibg that defines me but being in that kind of environment would certainly make me want to conform to everyone elses because of the human need to feel like we belong. God still loves me the same even if I pray my
    simple prayer and we need to realize we belong to him.


  2. This is something that I needed to hear. I moved to a new area about six months ago, and did not even notice that the church I started attending was legalistic at first. On the outside it looked so much like my old church but I started finding myself caught up in my own efforts to live more righteously after each sermon. I have felt guilty and inadequate forgetting how God really sees me. So many churches seem to be works in order to keep your salvation.
    Thank you for helping me see more clearly how my view of God had shifted.


  3. What is going on at Kwasizabantu mission in KZN?
    They have a lot of unwritten rules. Clothing and otherwise.
    They chase people away if they do not agree with their way of ruling over people’s lives.
    Even their children. Parents and children (even siblings) are not to have any contact or will also be shunned from the mission. If you do not want to marry the way they want you to, or even refuse to marry a girl from the mission and marry a girl from outside, Nobody from the mission (even parents) are allowed to attend the wedding! There are many more rules which are being inforced by the authorative leaders. A lot of manipulation and suppressing of people (even grown-ups) to the point that they cannot think for themselves, but have to consult the leader (even 5 times a day)! The children coming out of there, are wrecks and we have to nurse them back to live in a normal society. They are the victims of this mission. Others in their 20’s preach with no formal biblical education.


    • Naldo

      Could you please email me with more detail about this ? My email is on the contact us page. Should this what you say be true, it is certainly concerning. Do you know of Justin Peters? He is coming to South Africa in June and I know he is visiting Kwasizabantu for about a week. I would like to get some true facts together and bring this under his attention before he is visiting.

      Hope to hear from you soon via email.




      • I have been blessed by the holiness and love experienced at the kwasizabantu mission station. Sound biblical preaching (with authority) and a no compromise attitude against sin and worldliness, a lot like the book of Acts, I would say. I’ve heard the Rev. Stegen say “If you are not happy with us, find yourself a church you feel comfortable with”. As for the rest that Naldo says, I wonder whether there was a specific context?

        Go look on their website, there’s lots of articles, statement of faith, audio and text sermons. I have also seen lots of sermons on Sermon Index. I’m sure Justin would have checked it, being one with the gift of discernment.



    • Naldo, Hi, I just read some comments on KSB and your remarks. I urgently need to speak to someone, because of some family members of mine are somehow involved and I need guidance. Please contact me urgently on my cell number and I will return your phone call.
      Admin edited 😦 Susan, I have contacted Naldo, to get permission to supply you with the email address, waiting for a reply. I also removed your contact number for security reasons)


  4. I have been blessed by the holiness and love experienced at the kwasizabantu mission station. Sound biblical preaching (with authority) and a no compromise attitude against sin and worldliness, a lot like the book of Acts, I would say. I’ve heard the Rev. Stegen say “If you are not happy with us, find yourself a church you feel comfortable with”. As for the rest that Naldo says, I wonder whether there was a specific context?

    Go look on their website, there’s lots of articles, statement of faith, audio and text sermons. I have also seen lots of sermons on Sermon Index.



  5. I grew up there, and by the grace of God managed to leave with my family after 15 formative years there. Sadly, what Naldo, Erica and ksb-alert say is true. It took many years, God’s grace, and reading the Bible in its entirety to understand the true meaning of being a Christian and that God is a God of love, not fear and grace, not mere laws.


  6. HI I am presently staying in Perth Australia, but originally from Durban SA. I myself, have read “God amongst the Zulus” saw the DVD “when God came down” , have also heard many of the sermons and have been on their website, which all appears above board. I am friends with a dear family here that is associated with the Mission station in Natal, they also have promoted and advertised on behalf of KSB, and have befriended quite a few followers. Due to some negative feedback from a few people here in Perth I decided to look up all these letters in the varies websites especially ksb-alert and am very concerned at what I have been reading, especially in light of now hearing from my dear friend that they are going to the mission station next year. Can anyone please put me in contact with anyone who has been involved with mission and can honestly say without a doubt that it is a cult… The Lord Jesus, who is so compassionate and faithful has began to open my eyes to a lot of truth, like for instance, no where in the Bible does it say we all have to confess our sins to counselor , in-fact James 5v16 says “confess your sins to ONE ANOTHER..” it is definitely not a one sided affair continually, that is very Catholic, it is rather in connection with healing or spiritual struggles one might be having, in order to hold each other up in prayer. 2) that one cannot know or court your future husband/wife..Taken out of context from the story of Rebecca and Isaac, from Gen what about Jacob, or David…nothing is said about that.
    Sorry for this been so long, but I really need as much info as possible. I am coming down to Durban in March next year and would like to meet with a few of these people, God willing.
    Thank you


  7. Hi Michelle.
    My name is Paul and I`m Leah`s Dad. I read the comments posted here and would like you to make contact with me. I`ve put my two daughters in the care of a family visiting in South Africa and at KSB. They are also visiting family there as well. It would seam that there are some concerns about the Mission station. I have some questions I need to have answered. I am very concerned for my daughter Leah. I look forward to hearing from you. Regards, Paul


  8. My beloved ones..I am a romanian missionary and we are facing right now this problem with KSB.We are amazed what damaged they have done (stept by step but it got to climax right now) in the churhces-splitting up churches,families,they came in a godly church close to me and started physical fights in the church-there is video about this(but since it is all romanian is not helping you).And we were all blind…can not believe it .One of their leaders in Romania is a lawyer-speaks nice,beautiful,runs an oprhanage and has complaints at department of child protection for abusing a boy .Can you help us with more resources and info regarding this”movement ” please-even though it is late,we can still inform christians here -at least some .


    • Dear Mihai

      I have read your email, and will give you the websites that I used when investigating KSB. You can then write to them yourself, as one of the former leaders is currently living in Holland at the moment, and he can help you in you r plight to inform others about the dangers of this cult.
      I have a friend who is still deeply involved in KSB even though she is living overseas, she still has very close contact with the KSB branch in Kwazulu Natal South Africa. With this personal experience, I can hopefully give you some helpful advice, as I know how frustrating it must be to see the truth and yet when you show those involved they are totally blinded to see any wrong.
      One thing I say is, do not argue anything with them concerning personal wrong doings, the more you argue the harder they become, and the harder it is to reach out to them. If you do happen to get into a conversation with them, and God opens the door for you to speak, then use scripture.
      The most important thing is that you try and remain friends, and also the best solution when they do not want to hear, is to pray for them. we serve a prayer answering God and He knows your plight and their hearts, so keep on interceding for them. And one day when their eyes are opened to the truth they will come to you, and you will then be able to help them.
      I will keep you in our prayers this side.
      God strengthen you and encourage you as you continue in your fight against this evil.
      The website is
      In His Name
      Michelle Jones


  9. hello guys my name is Nhlanhla I just recently joined the church at ksb and according to the comments you guys have made make me stand in between because honestly I the 1st time I attended it felt like Jesus us the central theme but as time went I discovered in my spirit that some is fishy and I don’t know what is it??? and now I left for quite some time and I feel that the Lord wants me to go there and I’m frightened because what I study in Bible school contradicts with some of their teachings guys please help or pray for me that God has a great purpose for calling me.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s