A point I touched on in yesterday’s sermon:
Logically speaking, the opposite of legalism is license. People trapped in legalism often flip-out and go after license–everything goes, let ‘er rip, baby. They will then get upset if you tell them what to do, or point out a commandment of Scripture. “You can’t tell me what to do, that’s legalism!”
However, passages like Galatians 5 teach us that the acceptable alternative to legalism is not license. Believers are still restrained, but not by legalism.
Biblically speaking, the opposite of legalism is love.
Legalism is defined as “a hyper-strict interpretation of a law.” Frequently it misses the point of the law and merely carries it out in the cold deadness of the letter.
Like when you tell your son to apologize for throwing a ball at his sister’s face and he glumly says “I’m sorry” and gives no proof of any sincerity whatsoever. That’s legalism–“I’ll do it cuz you said so but I don’t really want to.” No love there at all.
The opposite of this approach is to actually get the point of the law. Paul tells us that the point of the law is LOVE. Therefore, legalism misses the point; Love nails the point. The Law is not the issue; your interpretation of it is!
“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”