“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage”
and do not be
The Christian has a personal responsibility not to plummet again into legalism since Jesus provided for the Christian a perfect standing with God.
“Entangled” means to hold in, to ensnare. It shows legalism holds us in its grip. Legalism is a system of bondage. It will load us down with a burden. It will press us down so that we cannot live the Christian life as we should.
Note the word “again.” Legalism enslaved the Judaizers in their false understanding of the Mosaic law. Also, the Galatians experienced legalism in their slavery to paganism (4:8). God liberated them from slavery to false gods, but now these Galatian Christians were about to enter Judaic legalism.
with a yoke of bondage
A “yoke” couples two things together–like two oxen with a wooden crossbar beam and ropes around their necks. Neither ox could move independently of the other. Christians share the same yoke as Christ (Matthew 11:29,30), but this is a yoke of liberty, for it gives us free access to fellowship with God. On the other hand, we are not to share the yoke of legalism with other Christians. Legalism is a burden of bondage, slavery to something other than Christ. Christians should enjoy the freedom of their sonship in Christ.
A child lives within the parameters set by his parents, so liberty is not liberty from the character and principles of God. It is a liberty from the method by which we live. We can live by self-effort and self-dependence in an attempt to gain God’s favor, or we can trust the work of Christ for that.
Legalism makes slaves of those who exercise it.
Legalism cannot make us right with God. It can only enslave us by hitching us to the yoke of the law.
Do you feel acceptable to God only after you measure up to a list you think will please Him? If so, you are a legalist. If you want to impose rules on other people to control them, you are a legalist. You do not trust the work of Christ in their heart, so you force them into certain criteria for measuring up to God. This is an attempt to live life without the power of the Spirit of God.
The antithesis of legalism is grace, the freedom that we have because of Christ. No amount of legalism will acquire fellowship with God. An authentic walk in the Spirit produces freedom. Refraining from five things and doing five things is not the Christian life. True Christian liberty means we don’t have to pay for our own sins or measure up to God to be saved or sanctified. This is the principle on which the Christian must stand – the grace principle.
Sin is a usurper of freedom. It so blurs the idea of true freedom that without revelation from God, it is difficult to detect apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).