Legalistic Salvation is synonymous with damnation, because legalistic salvation is no salvation at all. Maybe you would prefer I pretty it up a little bit? Then I’ll say legalistic salvation is synonymous with condemnation. Do you prefer the word commendation instead of damnation when describing those who shall eternally burn in Hell? Both terms are pertinent; and the point remains the same. Legalistic salvation is a sinking ship that many have boarded to their eternal doom. But there is a life boat! Be sure to read to the end.
In the Apostle Paul’s day, many of the Jews thought they would be saved by their meticulous keeping of the Mosaic Law. This is what I mean by the term legalistic salvation (salvation by the law). Of course this is futile. This is a fool’s errand, for not only is the Law incapable of saving you, it was never intended to. God’s plan was to save all whom He wished to save through His son Jesus Christ. No one enters Heaven, lest it be through the door of Christ.
As a Pharisee, Paul thought otherwise. He declared himself blameless (Philippians 3:6) as it pertained to the Law and thought himself justified. In his zeal for the Law he played a part in the public stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. It also led him to pursue other Christians in Damascus. It was on this road trip that Paul encountered the risen Christ and was confronted in painful fashion about just how wrong he was.
The only work that can save you is the work of Christ, who came to earth and lived a life of sinless perfection; then died a sacrificial death on the cross. For those who trust in Him, God credits His perfect life to their account; while He credits their sin to Jesus’s account. This is what transpired on the cross. Much more than simply an innocent man being railroaded by jealous Jews (as true as that is). The death of Christ was God’s perfect plan to pay for the sins of His people. And His people are those from every tongue, tribe, people group, and nation that trust in Him alone. Legalistic salvation, on the other hand, trusts in self and it leads to Hell.
Don’t trust in yourself. You’re not that good. You might say I cannot judge since I don’t know you. That’s true, but I do know people and I assume you are one of those. And the Bible tells me that all people are sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) Good works won’t cut it in the end, no matter how good you think they are. Only Christ can save the sinner. Trust in Him today.