Church Education Resource Ministries



Christ has set us Free from legalism
Gal 5:1-15


Theme- Legalism is unbiblical


Introduction- Paul in this passage speaks of liberty, and he speaks against legalism. Legalism is a position completely opposed to Grace because it emphasizes that one abide by a system of rules and codes of conduct in order to gain salvation or in order to be holy and separated from the world. Legalism is emphasized in movements like Seventh Day Adventism, Roman Catholicism, and Christian Fundamentalism. Adventists for example believe that one must rigidly keep their diet traditions for in doing so does one become obedient to the scriptures and is a good testimony to the world. Fundamentalists on the other hand do not stress a rigid diet, but they do stress obedience to many man made rules and codes of conduct. For example, there are many fundamentalists that are not allowed to do the following.


Grow a beard or long hair

Mix swim

Sit by the opposite sex in a car

Use the same exercise room as someone of the opposite gender

Play basketball on the same court as someone of the opposite gender

Worship God with their expressive emotions

Worship God in a contemporary form

Go to movies

Go to baseball games


Chew bubble gum in buildings

Go to bed after 11pm

And so on


This de-emphasizes Christian liberty. Christian must submit to God out of obedience and love for His word, but the Bible makes a strong case for Christian liberty in so many places.


I. Christ has set us free (v.1)
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (v.1, NIV).

A. Jewish literature of the time compares the law to a yoke to which the obedient submit.
B. The law Paul was speaking of in the verse was the Mosaic law

II. No Justification comes through obedience to the law (v.4)

A. Those that pursue justification by their works and acts of righteousness are in disobedience to Christ and are not under Grace.
B. No one can earn his or her way to heaven. Heaven is a free gift by God, and good works will not get anyone into Heaven. Good works should be done in response to your salvation, but they can’t get one to salvation.


III. The only thing that matters (v.6).
A. In Christ Jesus the only thing that matters is faith working through love.
B. Obedience to laws and rules of conduct do not matter and do not get a person into heaven. Works should be done in response to your salvation ONLY.


IV. Called to Freedom (v.13-15).

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (V.13, ESV).

A. In Christ we are called to freedom. Our churches, homes and schools should reflect this freedom. If all you teach your children to follow a list of do’s and don’ts, then you are missing the entire message of the cross. The Christian life is not about a list of do’s and don’ts, but about a right relationship with Jesus and about loving others (v.13).

(Application) Legalists think that their holiness is gained by strict obedience to their rules and codes of conduct. But this is anything but the truth. Someone can abide by every rule in the book, yet not be saved. If the motives behind following such rules are for show, and to make oneself look more righteous, then this is meangless.


B. The law is subject to loving others. Strict obedience to a system of rules and codes of conduct will get one nowhere. (v.14-15).

C. Col 2:23 states that strict obedience to a system of rules has an appearance of wisdom but cannot change the heart.

(Application) You can make rule after rule set to abstain the flesh from sin, but the real issue is a changed heart. You can force your students/children not to own or watch a TV, but the real issue is what he or she watches on the TV.


Conclusion- Legalism is never appropriate. Legalists may look to be more holy and righteous but they may not be. Our churches should preach about the heart and should not try to dictate morality. So many Fundamentalist churches have rules about their members going to movies, associating with Evangelical churches/fellowships and such that are totally inappropriate and unbiblical. All Christians are sinners and need God’s grace for their salvation. The answer is Christ and not legalism.

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