How can I better detect legalism in the church? I didn't realize how legalistic my old church was until after I left. The list of all the things we "good Christians" should / should not do was very long.
When a church requires you keep certain man-made “rules” in order to be holy / make God happy / be “a good Christian” / etc – that's legalism. Our righteousness is found in Christ (2Corinthians 5:21), and we follow the guidelines of God's Word to live uprightly according to God's instruction – for His glory and our benefit. We can't "keep rules" to become holy and pleasing to God - Jesus already provided the righteousness we require. (we have an upcoming sermon on "obedience" that may be worth listening to if this is confusing).
But the biggest indicator is when the “rules” are man-made, not instruction from the Bible. Rules like “don't play cards, don't dance, don't listen to this kind of music, don't wear these kinds of clothes, don't wash your car on a Sunday” etc - and “anyone who violates this/these rule(s) is shunned or disciplined or rebuked from the church.”
Ugh. Not in the Bible. Won't produce righteousness. That's just legalism.