My friend Denny Hartford posted on his blog part of a great teaching he did on legalism. I am attaching some of what Denny said below.
…I want to warn you about mistaking perfectly appropriate rules of organization for legalism. Legalism has become a cheap and distorted word in some circles, one used completely apart from its biblical context.
: When your Mom tells you to clean up your room, you cannot yell “legalism.” And because I’m free in Christ, I don’t have to obey any of your silly man-made rules.”
And when church leaders say you shouldn’t disrupt morning services by talking or eating breakfast in the pews or snoring or letting your cell phone ring or allowing your child to play with her Chatty Cathy doll — these things are not — I repeat, not — legalism.
Legalism, as explained in the New Testament, is an effort to detract from Christ’s authority, His character or the sufficiency of His atoning work on the cross by substituting rules of man-made religion. It’s a very serious pattern of heresy.
(Amen Denny. Lets not make legalism what it is not and lets stop doing what it truly is. You can read more of the above sermon Legalism: What It Is Not.)