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LETS WORSHIP TOGETHER

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Friday, August 23 2019

Contributor: Dolapo Olaoye

INTRODUCTION: So far we have learnt about how Paul defended himself against the charges against his integrity and authority as an apostle while also writing some harsh words to those who bring lies (Chapters 1 and 2). Paul goes on to document the gospel revealed to him was God's intent from the beginning, tracing his documentation back to the promises of God to Abraham (Chapters 3 and 4) that they need nothing other than faith in Christ in order to be saved. Now, we will start to look at how Paul explains the aim of the gospel as true freedom, not only freedom from the Law but also from the bondage of sin. (Chapters 5 and 6).

THREE KEY WORDS (VS 1)

  1. Freedom: This points out the goal of the redemptive work of Christ (Christ freed us in order that we might be free). The Law produces bondage – the opposite of freedom so therefore living under the law is living in bondage hence why Paul is reminding the Galatians Church here that Christ has already set us free with the gospel.
  2. Stay Free: Here we see that you require commitment to maintain your freedom. Naturally human beings have the tendency of returning to their bondage (dwelling in our sins/mistakes) and unless we exercise our freedom, we will be drawn back into bondage. Paul’s words here highlights why spiritual laziness is so serious in the Word of God.
  3. Do not get tied up again in slavery: We are personally accountable if we happen to fall back into bondage. It’s never any-one else’s fault (shifting blame) or a choice we make without knowing, no. We fall back into bondage because we allow ourselves to.

WARNING: Attention Drawn to The Warning About Circumcision (VS 2-6)

There are many various beliefs that some certain acts (i.e.: Baptism) can secure you a place in heaven and many do these things just to gain salvation which is not correct. The Galatian Christians looked at circumcision in a similar light and here Paul directly confronted the issue of circumcision. Circumcision was viewed as an act that lead to salvation (Act 15:1), which although painful and inconvenient, was a small price to pay to be more spiritual/saved. Vs 2 then highlights the point that if you believe all you needed to do for salvation is circumcision then you naturally will lack faith in Christ for salvation.

These days if an unbeliever is baptized, he or she won’t be any better off, or any worse off just because they are now baptized. However, when the Galatians performed the circumcision act, it carried with it much bigger consequences, but they did not seem to understand that. Circumcision then implied certain binding obligations.

Paul decided to focus on the issue of circumcision in these verses to point out the consequences of circumcision (highlighting that there is a high cost – Everything was in line to be lost by it and nothing was to be gained) as although maybe some of the Galatians have already practiced this act, there would have been others still thinking on whether or not to do it.

He begins vs 2 with “Listen! I, Paul, tell you this” trying to express the gravity of what the warnings he is about to pass on to the Galatians. The introductory words are used to shock the Galatians into a realization of the seriousness of circumcision which some might be contemplating on.  Paul was in fact rebuking them for even contemplating the idea at all

In vs 3 Paul points out the fact that anyone who is circumcised is looking to establish their righteousness before God simply by keeping “laws” and no longer by faith. While in vs 4 Paul lets them know if they do then they have “been cut off from Christ” and “fallen from grace”. However, please note Paul’s teaching here does not indicate that anyone submitted to circumcision immediately lose their salvation but rather he is stressing the implications of circumcision (an acknowledgement that one is enslaving themselves under the law – turning from grace and setting aside Christ work which is wrong). Sometimes we do things when we are not fully aware of the terms and conditions and what Paul was doing here is making it clear to the Galatians that circumcision wasn’t just an act like they thought it carried far much more implications.

Vs 5 and 6 brings Paul’s arguments against submitting to circumcision to a close. Here he mentions two characteristics of Christian faith and practice.

  • Faith works by means of the Spirit: We are empowered by the Holy Spirit which is the Spirit of God that works through men of faith. He empowers us to live an acceptable life in God’s sight.
  • Faith works through love: Some believe that right living is displayed in outward, physical for external forms (Matt 6:1-2) but the faith of a “true” believer is revealed through love. The characteristics by which we know God’s people are the “fruit of the Spirit”, beginning with love.

ASSESSMENT: Consider the Apostolic Viewpoint (VS 7-12)

In verse 7 Paul moved on from the advice against circumcision to the people supporting circumcision. He started the verse by pointing out how the Galatian saints had once “run well,” but were no longer doing so. Something happened at some point which is now hindering them from obeying the truth they were well aware of before.

Paul then in verse 8 in trying to eliminate the source of the change in the Galatians points out the obvious truth that it was certainly not from God. This is very important, because when we Christians turn from the truth that we know to error (deciding to be disobedient), we almost always try to give God the credit or say God told me this is the way now (remember God NEVER changes! – Same yesterday, today and forevermore). Been deceived and trying to prove that they have seen a new truth and that their sins are sanctioned by God. That’s what Paul disregarded here making it plain that they had turned from the truth, openly giving out to them that God was not the author of their error but rather, their change had come from another source.

Paul uses the exact same expression he used in 1 Corinthians 5:6 in verse 9: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” In 1 Corinthians 5:6, Paul used it to express how letting a man’s moral sin go unchallenged was a corrupting influence on the entire church. The principle here is simple: what seems to be a little thing can do a lot of damage. Paul uses this phrase to show them how much damage a seemingly little thing (such as circumcision) can do.

Verse 10 is a display of Paul’s confidence in all of this. In trusting the Lord he is confident that they will not adopt a different gospel/teaching and he is also confident that God will deal justly with those confusing and causing trouble in the Galatian churches. Paul is confident of the destiny of the Galatian saints, because he knows without a doubt that it is God who has called them, and God is faithful to fulfil His purposes (Phil 1:6). Hence why Paul is so confident that God will deal in justice with those who lead others astray (2 Peter 2).

The principle in verse 11 is clear. The false teachers were teaching that Paul himself encouraged circumcision. After all Paul arranged for Timothy to be circumcised in Acts 16:3. Therefore, Paul had to disprove this claim by pointing out that he was still being persecuted. He was ridiculed because he did not preach circumcision. If he continued to preach circumcision, as he had done prior to his salvation, he would not be persecuted. The fact that he was still persecuted proved that he did not, as the false teachers implied or stated, preach circumcision.

Paul’s aim in verse 12 was to press the error of the false teachers who were teaching that circumcision contributed to a man’s righteousness. Surely if cutting off a little flesh is good, cutting off more flesh is even better. The words Paul used here “I would they would even cut themselves off” (NKJV) expresses his wish to the false teachers for God to judge them so that they will cause no more harm to the churches. Paul does not speak out of hatred, but out of a passion to the glory of God and for the good of his people.

CONCLUSION

Applying the above to this present days, some believe in the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. To those who hold this doctrine, salvation cannot be obtained other than by means of baptism. Apart from changing the ritual from circumcision to baptism, this teaching does not differ from the above. There are other “rituals” which fall into this same category so let us beware of viewing some “rite” as the passageway into a higher spiritual standing!

Very simply, anyone who trusts in Christ has been set free. The Galatians were in danger of wasting that KNOWN freedom, by swerving off in one of two directions. We should do well to steer clear of any such deviations.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 12:45 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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