1. strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, especially to the letter rather than the spirit.
the doctrine that salvation is gained through good works.
the judging of conduct in terms of adherence to preciselaws.
The word legalism is tossed around all the time. While I have no doubt that there are legalistic people out there, every person with standards IS NOT legalistic. It is a good thing to have standards! While I too believe Christianity is a "come as you are" type of faith, I do not believe it to be a "stay as you are" faith. If you are not being regenerated by your conversion to a Christianity then I would question your conversion. With conversion comes conviction, and while everyone's journey will be different it is not ok to hide behind your sins. Jesus Himself said: If ye love me, keep my commandments. -John 14:15
It can't get much clearer than that. You can poke at it all you want, but it won't change. We as Christians are to be Christ-like, that means we shouldn't look like the world. We need to be pure in heart and unscathed by the world, shining forth the the Light of Christ. How can you shine if you're just like everyone else? Do people know you are a Christian by the way you carry yourself? They should. In 1 Timothy 2:9-10 we read:
In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
There is your brief outline of what Christian women should be like. Modest, Shamefaced (meaning discreet, self-controlled), sober (meaning of a sound mind), and not seeking to gain attention for her appearance. These things should then be coupled with good works. This isn't to gain or earn our salvation, as those who are quick to scream legalism might want you to believe, but rather to be a light shining in a dark, dark word. We are called to be a Holy people, not because we are of anything good, but because our Creator is Holy! But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:15-16
Dear sister don't be fooled into believing that liberty in Christ means you can live as you please. Come out from the darkness and realize that loving Christ, and being a Christian, comes with a price. It is the leaving behind of your old self and becoming more like HIM. That doesn't happen just by reading the Bible. It happens by reading and applying what you've learned, asking for guidance, and letting the Holy Spirit Lead you! Ask the Lord to show you where He wants you to change, and dive into His Word with a heart open to being molded by Him. Your relationship with Christ will grow by leaps and bounds if you do it HIS WAY. Don't be fooled into missing out on living in the fullness of who God created you to be.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2