Live Grace Not Legalism

Galatians 4:8‐11


I. Their past slavery to superstition (v.8)

A. Before conversion, everyone is ignorant of God and a slave to religious superstition (idolatry).

a. Explanation of Idolatry‐

1. Man’s attempt to ascribe God’s attributes to deities created by his own hands. Man believes that these gods can do for him what he desires but that he cannot do for himself. Most of the world’s ancient gods revolved around fertility cults because of the ancient agrarian cultures. It was believed that man could manipulate the gods through sacrifice and worship, which in turn, the gods would bestow favor upon man and bless him with what he desired.

b. Example of Idolatry‐ Exodus 32:1‐28

c. Expense of Idolatry‐  Romans 1:21‐25

– “The fundamental error of unbelievers is their failure to know and praise and thank God [relationally], and hence they turn instead to self‐worship and adulation of the creature rather than the Creator.” [1]


II. Their personal salvation in the Son (v.9a)

A. Man knows God (salvation) only after God enters into a relationship with them through Jesus Christ.

– “Even though it is true that believers have come to know God, there is a deeper reality that explains why they know God’s saving love, namely, God’s knowledge of them.” [2]

a. God’s Knows His People

1. God’s knowing is more that to have a knowledge of something.

2. God knowing someone deals with having a loving relationship with someone. [John 10:14‐15, 17:3; Phil. 3:8; Jer. 9:23‐24; Amos 3:2; John 10:27‐28; Rom. 8:29‐30; 2 Tim. 2:19]

– “The Lord does not know [soteriologically] the entire world. The Lord knows only the few  who are on the narrow path, that are headed to life. What a privilege it is to be known by God.” [3]


III. Their present slump in sanctification (v.9b‐11)

A. If saved, one should not engage in legalism to grow in Christ.

– “Under the influence of the Judaizers the Galatians had at least begun to observe the Mosaic calendar. They kept special days (weekly Sabbaths), and months (new moons), and seasons (seasonal festivals such as Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles), and years (sabbatical and jubilee years). They observed these special times, thinking that they would thereby gain additional merit before God.” [4]

– “Legalism is trying to please God…by attempting to keep a list of laws and rules…It is identity based on performance rather than relationship.” [5]

– “[Legalism] …can never cleanse the heart from sin. Neither can it sanctify the life.  Legalism erects an artificial façade that religious people hide behind, but it never changes the heart of man.” [6]

B. The Law and Grace do not mix.

– “Christ became the end of the Law by virtue of what He did on earth through His sinless life and His sacrifice on the cross. So, the Law no longer has any bearing over us because its demands have been fully met in the Lord Jesus Christ…No longer under the penalty of the Law, we now live under the law of grace in the love of God.” [7]

C. Legalism demonstrates immature faith or no faith at all. [1 John 2:19; Rom 7:2‐4]

– “If the Galatians strayed from the gospel of grace, their only hope was an eschatological curse (1:8–9), for those who trust in the law are cut off from Christ (5:2–4)…Hence, Paul contemplates the possibility that his work will be futile if those whom he evangelized do not persevere.” [8]

– “To keep holy days and practice symbolical ceremonies is contrary to the very spirit of Christianity. And those who do so lead us to suspect that they do not know the gospel at all.” [9]


Points to Ponder:

1. Live to honor God because of what He has done for us, not because of what we do to gain merit with God.
2. Be careful to guard your liberty so as not to be a stumbling block for others.  [Rom. 14:1‐9]
3. Use your Christian freedom to treat people from Christ’s point of view and not the subjective, traditional, standards of men.



[1] Thomas R. Schreiner, Galatians, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 277.
[2] Ibid., 278.
[3] Steve Lawson, The Danger of Legalism, Online. Accessed September 29, 2018.
[4] Donald K. Campbell, “Galatians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985), 602.
[5] Tony Evans, Free at Last: Experiencing Freedom Through Your Identity in Christ (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2001), 77.
[6] Steve Lawson, Law & Liberty: A Biblical Look at Legalism, Online. Accessed September 29, 2018.
[7] Got Questions, What does it mean that Christians are not under the law? Online. Accessed September 29, 2018.‐under‐the‐law.html
[8] Schreiner, Galatians, 279.
[9] Charles Spurgeon, Galatians, ed. Elliot Ritzema, Spurgeon Commentary Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013), Ga 4:10‐11.


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