September 4th Galatians, 5
1: Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2: Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3: For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4: Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5: For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6: For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. 7: Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8: This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. 9: A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. 10: I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. 11: And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. 12: I would they were even cut off which trouble you. 13: For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14: For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 15: But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
Paul now applies the teaching he has given. He says, ‘stand fast’. In other words, don’t loose your balance and slip! We are to stand firm in the liberty in which Christ has set us free. We are to stand fast, like the Spartans who when they were surrounded by the Roman legions refused to give up their liberty for slavery. Paul continues, Do not get roped to the yoke of the Law again. Then Paul makes a startling declaration, he says, Listen to me – I Paul say to you that if you go and get yourselves circumcised then Christ will not be able to save you. The choice is between trusting in the law or trusting in Christ. And l tell you this that every man who takes circumcision is committed to keep the whole law. (All 613 commandments. Those who divided the law into ceremonial and moral merely confuse themselves. The law is one and if it is to be obeyed, then it is all to be obeyed.) Paul says that the Gospel of Christ is unable to save you if you trust in your own obedience. You have fallen from the heights of the Grace of God into the ditch of works. Law and Grace are mutually incompatible. Its either faith or works, grace or law. There is no middle ground for salvation, nor can there be a mix of the two. In contrast to your law keeping, we, through the Holy Spirit look to God for the righteousness he gives to those who believe. Being circumcised or uncircumcised means nothing to Christ, because all men fail to do Gods will. The only thing that counts with Christ is faith in him, which works itself out in love. You seemed to be running bravely Who stepped onto the track to trip you up, so that you disobeyed the truth of the Gospel? This ‘Judaisers perversion’ did not come from Christ. You know the proverb – ‘A little yeast affects the whole dough’. (In scripture yeast is nearly always symbolic of evil) So Paul is saying that a few Judaisers could, if unchecked corrupt the whole church. Paul says, I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will take the same view as we do and that the ‘Judaiser’ in your midst will be judged by you, whoever he is. Paul contrasts himself with this man saying if l still preached law keeping then why do l suffer persecution from the Jews? The Jews were offended that Paul preached that they had no special privilege before God but that they should come for salvation on the same standing as a sinner of the Gentiles. This is the offence of the cross. Prior to the cross the Jews had a high standing before God, however now that they rejected and crucified their Messiah they now must come as sinners along with all the heathen nations to receive the unmerited kindness of God. If Paul preached a special relation of Israel to God then the offence of the cross would cease. The Judaisers could accept the cross of Christ with circumcision but not the cross of Christ instead of circumcision. The Judaisers avoided persecution from the Jews by maintaining that circumcision and the law were still required of believers. In one of Pauls most forceful phrases he says, these men who seek to overthrow you in the faith – these evil workers, instead of circumcising themselves – l wish they would castrate themselves (as the heathen priests do) In Philippians calls them (scavenging) dogs and the ‘Concision’. They have no right to the full name ‘circumcision’. Paul says I wish they would harm themselves in such away that they would be unable to reproduce this evil teaching in a whole new generation. Paul says, l speak very strongly of these Judaisers who seek to overthrow your whole Christianity and enslave you in Judaism. Because you have been called to freedom in Christ, however do not use your freedom as an opportunity to live to yourselves in the flesh but through love for one another - serve each other. The Whole Law is obeyed in one phrase when it says we are to love our neighbour as ourselves. But if you bite and eat each other, like a ravenous wolf pack, you will find one day that the whole Christian community in Galatia will be destroyed.