Legalism forces us to work as slaves. Gospel living frees us to work as sons excited about the family business. Legalism is obedience and submission out of fear or to score points. Gospel living knows that there is an ultimate authority who is already for us. Legalism speaks poorly of those who don’t live up to our standards. Gospel living speaks grace because it knows we couldn’t live up to God’s.
Legalism argues over the rules because the rules have to be kept in order to earn God’s favor. Gospel living knows we could never keep the rules anyway but, in Christ, we’re growing to love them. Legalism runs roughshod over others on its way to self-justification. Gospel living frees us to gentleness and meekness, finally loving rightly, because we’ve received much patience.