Legalism is Immature

Legalism is Immature

Galatians 3:23-26 – Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

In the ancient world, a guardian was appointed to look after a small child and help them grow into adulthood. If you’ve ever seen a nanny live with a family, or grandmother raising her grandchild as their primary caregiver, then you get the picture.

The goal of the guardian was to help prepare the child to live as an independent adult who could make their own decisions and take responsibility for their own life. The guardian would impose a lot of rules and demands upon the child when they were little. But, as the child got older and more mature, they were given increased freedom until one day the guardian was no longer needed.

Paul uses this analogy to fight against people who are law-based and legalistic in the Galatian church. Every church has these kinds of folks, and they like to make rules about most anything and try and tell everyone else what to do. Because they are often serious, studied, and stoic, it is easy to wrongly perceive law-based, legalistic people as mature. But, in what is a shock to them, Paul says that they are immature and acting like spiritual babies. In the remainder of Galatians, Paul then shifts the focus from loving under laws to living in the Spirit. People who do not understand or believe in the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer tend to nominate themselves to do His job. So, they will convict you of sin, teach you, lead you, make your decisions, and control you.  If you give in to their demands, you will grow to be less and less mature and not grow in your relationship with God.

What is your experience with law-based, religious, legalist folks? Are there any areas where you are doing the same thing to someone else?

Mark Driscoll
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