How The Gospel Changes Us

By Rick Bayer, February 04, 2024

“Just as Christ was crucified between two thieves, so this doctrine of justification is ever crucified between two opposite errors.” Tertullian

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? Galatians 2:14

Two errors that ‘steal’ the power of the gospel:

Error #1: License/Relativism

Error #2: Legalism/Moralism

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”

The problem with both license and legalism:

Both fail to address the root sin of

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator. Romans 1:25

If something is so important to you that it drives your emotions and behavior more than God, that thing/person is your idol.

The problem with both license and legalism:

Both are ways to avoid Jesus as and for us to keep control of our lives.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” Galatians 3:13

Questions for Discipleship group and/or personal study:


  • What “Christian rules” were important in your circle in the past or present?

Go to the Source:

Read Galatians 3:1-14

  • What does Paul appeal to, to expose the foolishness of human effort to live the Christian life?

  • How does the example of Abraham (v. 6-9) support this (see Genesis 15)?

  • How does Jesus solve our problem in v. 13-14?

Live it out:

Read Galatians 2:14.

  • Is there an area of your life where you are not “acting in line with the truth of the gospel”?

  • If so, how can you stop leaning into relativism or moralism and instead embrace the gospel?

  • What is the root idol that you are relying on instead of Jesus Christ?

  • How can your group help you in this?