licentiousness? Warren Wiersbe sets out to answer these questions in Be Free, his user-friendly commentary on the book of Galatians.
I've read a dozen of Wiersbe's commentaries on the Bible and while they were all excellent, this one stands out above the others. This may be because I spent many years of my Christian life trusting in outward actions to measure my spiritual maturity. I was a legalist with a capital "L."
Wiersbe writes, What is it about legalism that can so fascinate the Christian the he will turn from Grace to the law? For one thing, legalism appeals to the flesh. The flesh loves to boast about its religious achievements. The person who depends on religiosity can measure himself and compare himself with others.
I loved it when he cited F.D.R.'s four freedoms (of speech, of religion, from want and from fear) and added a fifth freedom: freedom from sin and self. Only those who deliberately misread Bible verses about grace will use them to validate sinful choices. Liberty does not mean license, says Wiersbe. Rather it means the freedom in Christ to enjoy Him and to become what He has determined for us to become. It is not only freedom to do, but also freedom not to do. We are no longer in bondage to sin. But can Christians take this whole freedom thing too far?? Not according to Wiersbe: No man could become a rebel who depends on God's grace, yields to God's Spirit, lives for others, and seeks to glorify God.
As I read through the book of Galatians, using the comments in Be Free, I said many a "hallelujah" for the Lord's kindness in bringing me from a works-based faith to a faith that is dependent on His mercy. I still slip up sometimes, but the Lord gently calls me back to Himself.
In closing: The unsaved person wears a yoke of sin; the religious legalist wears a yoke of bondage; but the Christian who depends on the grace of God wears the liberating yoke of Christ. (Matthew 11:30)