Do Grace Preachers Teach Legalism?

What is Galatianism?

Recently I have encountered people on YouTube teaching that various grace pastors are promoting and teaching Galatianism. These YouTube teachers and preachers in my view are touting hyper-grace, anti-progressive sanctification, anti-correction from God for believers,  and anti-preaching of things to do or not to do as believers. So, what really is Galatianism? Is there room for believers to grow or to be told to apply themselves to be more mature in their faith? Are there scriptures on right and wrong things for believers? Will God at times chasten or rebuke or teach his children? Is a pastor a legalist if they preach God’s given instruction? For answers to all that, let’s go to what the Bible says.

I) Actual Galatianism

Galatianism really is simply trying to be justified (saved) by law keeping. The Galatian believers addressed in Paul’s epistle to the Gatatians were saved. They had been bewitched or tricked into following the Judaisers thinking that they needed to keep following the demands of the law to finish being made perfect (fully justified). However, they were, fully justified in God’s sight by way of His Son Jesus Christ. What wasn’t perfect was their maturity in Jesus Christ. What wasn’t perfect was their development of character and practice. This affected their day to day Christian walk. Some call this progressive sanctification but the YouTube teachers I have run into have basically demonized that concept altogether and instead lump everything onto initial justification. They would contend that a believer can never be out of practical fellowship with the Lord or ever need chastening. They would say we are forgiven in Christ. Which, indeed, we have forgiveness in Christ, but that doesn’t mean believers lack the capacity to grow.

Read what Galatians says.

Gal. 1:6-7  I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 

Gal. 2:4  And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

Gal 2:21  I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Gal. 3:1-3  O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?  This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 

Gal. 3:24-27  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.  For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 

Gal 4:4-10  But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.  Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.  But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 

Gal 5:1-5  Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.  For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 

So, this “yoke of bondage” was law keeping for justification before God. This is not what grace preachers have been teaching. If I tell people to admit their sin to God and move on letting His cleansing to continue, then I am not suggesting they keep the law for salvation as they are already justified. This means they declared righteous in God’s sight. They will always be positionally righteous in Him. It is, however, God’s will for their lives as believers. If I tell people to do things the Bible instructs, then it isn’t legalism. It is simple conveying God’s truth.

2) Progressive sanctification and growth

Is there then a place for practical and progressive sanctification? Perhaps a better question is, should a Christian be given instruction on how to grow as a believer?

Keep in mind the following things. For a believer there is justification, sanctification, and glorification. For all three of these, they are positionally true for all believers the moment they believe. Believers then are sanctified or set apart to God for service the moment they believe. This however does not mean that they are instant super Christians that never fail to serve the Lord. Believers are seated with Christ above yet we still have the flesh and will one day receive our glorified bodies to match our glorified new inner man that was created the moment they believed the gospel. With sanctification, there is the concept then that a believer needs to apply himself to learn. A believer can mature in areas of service.

Most occurrences of the words “sanctify”, or “sanctification” in the New Testament refer to the initial setting apart of believers for service for the Lord. Though there are a few instances of ongoing sanctification in practice. Beyond that there are very clear scriptures as to Christian growth.


“Sanctification”
I Thess. 4:3-4  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;

1 Cor.1:30; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2 

“Sanctify”
1 Thess. 5:23  And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Heb. 13:12  Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

“Sanctified”
Acts 20:32  And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Acts 26:18  To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

Rom. 15:16  That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

1 Cor. 1:2  Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

1 Cor. 6:11  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

2 Tim. 2:21  If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. (practical element)

Heb. 2:11  For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

Heb. 10:10  By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Heb. 10:14  For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

Heb. 10:29  Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Jude 1:1  Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:


Christian growth/living example verses

Heb. 5:12-13  For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.  For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

1 Pet. 2:2  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

Eph. 4:15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

2 Pet. 3:18  But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

2 Pet. 1:5-10  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.  For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.  Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

1 Thess. 4:11  And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;

2 Tim. 2:15  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Rom. 13:12  The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

Eph. 4:22  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

Col. 3:8-9  But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.  Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

James 1:21-24  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 

Psa. 1:1-3  Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

I Jn 1:5-9  This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Hyper grace teachers tend to turn I John 1:9 into verses for the lost. However, they speak to a believer admitting sin and moving on in the Christian walk in restoration of practical fellowship.

3) Discipline/Correction

The flesh is still present for believers and believers can moment by moment technically choose right or wrong. They have no permission to do wrong but each person has to choose to obey day in and day out. So, then are there any earthly consequences for choosing wrong?

Job 5:17  Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:

Prov. 3:11  My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:

Prov. 22:15  Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Heb. 12:5-7  And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

Are there any instructions as to what to do or not to do? Are there any stated consequences?

I submit the following examples and there are many more.

Rev. 2:14  But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

Rev. 2:20  Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

Heb. 10:25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Heb 10:29-31  Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?  For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 

The passage above was directed at eternally saved believers.

1 Cor. 5:1  It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

1 Cor. 6:13  Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

1 Cor. 6:18  Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

Col. 3:5  Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Obviously God has a problem with things like fornication and the like. He wants us to glorify Him in all we say and do. Walking in the former lifestyle only brings shame to a believer and ultimately it profanes the name of the Lord that bought us. Why would God our heavenly Father not be grieved by that? Why would he not want us to get right if we ever stumble into those things mentioned?

4) Problems with a justification centric only hyper grace view

Hyper-grace sounds appealing to someone that came formerly out of legalism. However, we must be balanced and honest with what the scriptures teach concerning God’s will for believers in their Christian walk. The danger come in at least two respects that I will highlight but there can be more problems.

The first is that this type of hypergrace preacher will do away with getting right with God in terms of I John 1:9. They would leave a believer to simply go on through life without ever really addressing how their sin impacts their Savior.

The second thing is that they have been willing to throw actual grace preachers under the legalism bus using false accusations based on a flawed understanding of what Galatianism really is. This is especially egregious because they will have to stand in front of God one day and give account for the slander they have spread against men of God that are simply trying to proclaim the full Word of God. I pray that any tempted to run after these teachers, take a pause and think again about choosing to follow amateur Youtube preachers that often have no church accountability for their doctrine and actions.

We must keep in mind that while these hyper-grace teachers want to avoid God’s correction, that God is a kind and loving God full of mercy and patience. He is the only one able to discern perfectly what is needed in any given circumstance. His desire is the best for us. If He corrects us, it is for our ultimate good. He would be hateful to us not to correct us when we sin.

James 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Psa. 145:8  The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.

Please do take time to consider the following messages from a few of the grace preachers that have been under attack:

Tom Cucuzza

How Much of the Bible is For Us Today? – YouTube

Dr Ralph Yankee Arnold

A Christian is not to be Antinomian or Legalistic | Dr. Ralph Yankee Arnold | – YouTube

This entry was posted in Bible, Christian living, doctrine, Free Grace, Hyper grace. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Do Grace Preachers Teach Legalism?

  1. Redeeming Moments says:

    Really thorough post Jim, and much needed for today. You have a lot of great passages there, those sections would be an excellent Bible study. I’ve gone through and marked the differences in my Bible document on practical sanctification/growth/maturity vs. the positional sanctification and in some instances I’ve done it with saved/salvation, differentiating what type.

    Thanks for writing on that, the funny thing I’ve observed in the past, is when I’ve been attacked, they also have either brought Pastor Cucuzza, or Yankee into it, even though they may not have even been mentioned on the post, although they are on my recommended resource list.

  2. Holly Garcia Held says:

    This is what compels me, not sure what drives them.

    For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. 2 Cor 5:14-15

    And this one:
    Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
    Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
    And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3

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