Galatians 5:7-10 – You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.
Our world of tolerance and pride in all things has caused many people to forget the simple principle that to receive something means you must also reject something else. For example, for a marriage to receive fidelity it must reject adultery. Or, to receive Jesus you must reject trusting in anyone or anything else for your salvation.
Paul uses two analogies to illustrate this point.
First, Christianity is supposed to be like a cross country team lead by Jesus. We are to follow Him, trusting that He knows the way to our heavenly home. Religious legalism is like someone cutting in front of you and pushing you off course so that you are no longer following Jesus.
Second, a bit of legalism in a family or church family is like a bit of leaven that soon overtakes everything. Jesus also warned of legalisms from two religious groups in his day, saying in Matthew 16:11, “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees”.
The problem with legalism is that it drowns grace. To illustrate this point, picture in your mind someone who is clearly drowning and needing to be rescued. So, a lifeguard jumps in to save them. The worst thing that could happen would be that the person drowning works against the lifeguard, which results in two deaths and no rescues. The best thing that could happen would be that the drowning person accepts their inability to rescue themselves and surrenders to the lifeguard who does all the work to save them. Human religious works and their man-made legalisms literally work against a gracious rescue from Jesus.
Is there anything in your life that you need to surrender to God?