Summary: A sermon that describes the religious legalist.
"The Gospel of Legalism"
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Introduction: This morning I may be preaching one of the most important messages I have ever preached anywhere in my ministry. I hope that doesn't sound melodramatic or sensational but I feel very strongly about the subject of today's message. I have several reasons for preaching about "The Gospel of Legalism" I have seen firsthand the effects of legalism in people's lives and in the church. I have seen the struggles as Christians strive to meet a standard that is based in the Law rather than in Grace; on rules not relationship! I've personally been on the receiving end of criticism that I believe was based on legalism. For the legalist "every I has to have a dot and T has to be crossed, or the legalist is not happy and he will let you know it, I might add! It has been my observation that legalism leads to defeat and a joyless Christian experience. There is never, or least very seldom any sense that one has pleased anyone much less his/her heavenly Father. Legalism also leads to hypocrisy because it is artificial and arbitrary; it leads to hyper-criticism of others behavior while one is blind to one's own faults and failings. Jesus spoke specifically about this very thing. Let me read you a quote:
Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
These believers in Galatia had been saved under a gospel of grace but they were in danger of being seduced by "...another gospel..." the gospel of legalism! Let me provide a little background. Even though the Apostle Paul was a Jew his ministry was by and large to the Gentiles. In chapter 2 verse 7 Paul refers to his belief that "...the gospel of the uncircumcision..." (Gentiles) had been committed to him by God. He also mentions a very important event that occurred when he, Barnabas and Titus went up to Jerusalem in chapter 2, verse 4. He says that while they were meeting with the leaders of the church there were those who came in "...to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage..." The bondage he is referring to the insistence that all of Paul's Gentile converts be "circumcised!" Paul's reply to the elders in Jerusalem is recorded in verses 20-21:
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.