Galatians and James: Legalism verses Liberty
The subtitle for this series is "Legalism versus Liberty," a study of Galatians and James. In Galatians the reader captures the biblical sense of a "legalist" who is opposed to God's grace. Correspondingly, in James he discovers that "liberty" from the bondage of sin is obtained through obedience to "the perfect law of liberty." Galatians is written to expose the error Judaizing teachers who were insisting that Gentile Christians be circumcised in keeping with the Law of Moses in order to be saved. Their form of legalism was sinful because the Law of Moses had served its purpose and was no longer in force.
James was written to Christians who were dispersed in different places and needed encouragement in the midst of temptations and trials. Ten times the word "law" is used by James, and always in the sense of the "perfect law of liberty" (James 1:25; 2:12) which is the same as the "law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2; 1 Cor. 9:21). Grace does not nullify the necessity of obedience, for if there were no law there would be no sin, Rom. 4:15; 1 John 3:4. Through obedience to the "perfect law of liberty" one is delivered from the bondage of sin, a provision made possible solely by God's grace.