Against Legalism

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified” (Galatians 3:1).

The book of Galatians was Paul’s letter to the Gentile church in the region of Galatia. Paul had been called to minister to those who were non Jews about the salvation of Jesus Christ. Paul’s message was one of freedom through the spirit and salvation by grace through faith. “Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God” (Acts 15:19). Paul did not see the need to burden the Gentiles with the religious doctrines of the law including practices such as circumcision. There were some Jewish Christians however, who demanded that the Gentiles needed to earn their place in Christianity.

Some of the Jews demanded that the Gentiles needed to practice circumcision and other Jewish laws in order to be saved. Paul was angry when he learned about the contradictions that was being spread among the churches. Imagine Paul’s frustration when he realised that the churches that he had established were being disturbed by legalistic teachings. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).

Paul knew firsthand what it was like to be bound by religion and legalism. In fact, Paul was the chief prosecutor of the church until he was arrested by God and converted to a disciple of Jesus Christ. As such, Paul was passionate about the freedom which comes from serving Christ. He wanted the Gentiles to experience the freedom of salvation which came from a relationship with Jesus Christ. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Let us walk in the freedom of God and do not be pressured to adhere to legalism rather than to personal faith in God. Legalism dictates that we excessively adhere to rules and formulas at the expense of a relationship with Jesus Christ. This creates unnecessary burdens and takes away the freedom which comes with serving God. Do not stay in environments that emphasise religion over a relationship with God. Examine if what you are being asked to do lines up with the grace that is preached in the word of God and do not submit yourself to bondage.


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