It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal 5:1)
But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Gal 3:23-27)
The Law is a tutor to lead you to Christ. It let’s you know of your need for a Savior. Through faith in Christ you are freed from the law of sin and death and given a new image. As you walk by faith, not by sight, the Holy Spirit empowers your transformation.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal 5:22-24)
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Gal 2:20)
If this isn’t making sense, please find out if you received the Holy Spirit. It’s all about mindset because mindset determines your behavior (See Romans 7-8). Law and legalism sets your mind on fleshly desires and how close you can get to the line without crossing it. Faith and freedom sets your mind on your new image, the Holy Spirit, and how much love you can demonstrate.
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. (Gal 5:13-15)
There are risks involved with freedom (someone might misuse it), but it also promises the greatest reward of all: the glories of heaven. Freedom requires 100% personal responsibility. If you don’t walk by faith, you will suffer the consequences. If you walk by faith, you will receive the reward.
Counterfeit Christianity is Not Your Ticket to Heaven
Some think Christianity is just a new set of laws to replace or add to the Old Testament set of laws. These legalists search for regulations to keep and restrictions to impose, and end up inventing divisive laws to enforce. Like the Pharisees before them, they bite and devour, looking to condemn.
Not trusting themselves or others with freedom, they depend on coercion to try and control behavior. They missed the fact that 1500 years of law produced Pharisees, at best, who condemned Jesus for not keeping their invented rules. (Matt 12:1-14) He rebuked them, saying, “It is lawful to do good.”
Law produces superficial changes, but it does not change the heart for the better, which is what God is interested in. Jesus called the legalists hypocrites, which simply means actor. They put on a superficial religious show at the right times. Yes, there are a lot of hypocrites today.
“You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’” (Matt 15:7-9)
Organized religion deceives people with a false-sense-of-security. People can mindlessly ‘keep the law’ by going through the motions their entire life, and not be saved by faith. Jesus didn’t suffer on the cross to coerce us into dressing up and playing church. He paid the ultimate price for our life, and our life is what He wants.
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)
Get the word of God into your heart and let it teach you to love others the way Jesus loved you!
Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men. (Mark 7:8)
If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use) – in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. (Col 2:20-23)
Throughout history, power-hungry people have used religion to control others. You may not understand some people’s lust for power over others, but Jesus did. He exposed them in His day (Matthew 23), and we should follow His example and expose them in our day. One clue is when there’s a select few, or just one, who monopolize the teaching and discourage serious questioning.
Every individual in every generation should question the traditions of men, comparing them with the word of God. Every church has the freedom to establish its own traditions, provided they don’t violate Scripture. But what is profitable this year in this place, may not be profitable every year in every place.
Beware of implying that everyone is expected to follow any traditions not specified by Scripture. Otherwise, those who don’t conform get ostracized. This has happened with academic church schools, Sunday school classes, Bible colleges, music styles, meeting times, church buildings, and many other traditions of men that are not specified by Scripture. If it’s not specified, don’t ostracize.
For example, if an academic church school is provided, it easily becomes a wedge issue since it is competing with free enterprise. Any entrepreneurs who want to start a school or any parents who want to home school are immediately at odds and competing with the establishment.
Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. (1 Peter 2:16)
It’s also worth noting here that some people habitually misuse the word legalism to label anything they don’t like. You can probably imagine the contempt in their voice as they say, “You’re a legalist if you believe that Scripture.” My response is, “Label me whatever you want, but I believe the word of God over the word of man every time!”