You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?Galatians 3:1(NASB)
Like so many believers today, the Galatian Christians were being urged by Jewish legalists to add works of the Mosaic Law to Christ's finished work on the cross.. as a necessary requirement for their Salvation. And like certain legalisers today.. Paul's divinely appointed apostleship was also being challenged, and for two whole chapters Paul carefully defends both his apostolic calling, and the gospel of grace.. which he received directly and by divine revelation, from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself - and which in many respects was independent of Peter, who was Christ's chief apostle and His other appointed apostles.
The strong language that Paul uses to refute this false teaching and the stern denunciations he makes about these legalists, who were insisting on adding to the simply truth of the gospel message: - that Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in the finished, sacrificial work of Christ alone.. serves only to demonstrate how dangerous Paul considered this legalist teaching. And so in the strongest language that is used in any of his epistles we hear Paul's blistering comment: you foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
Now as then.. any form of legalist work that is insisted upon as being a necessary addition to God's free gift of salvation by faith alone in Christ's death, burial and resurrection, is strongly to be rejected and Paul spends two whole chapters in this book of Galatians.. using the strongest possible language, in defence of justification by faith in Christ's finished work on Calvary's cross - alone.
Paul's fierce attack on these legalisers should be carefully noted and we should similarly be careful that this false teaching does not infiltrate our own thinking and doctrine - for in so doing it negates the need for Christ's sacrificial death on the cross and makes His once for all offering for our sin - irrelevant.
Paul strongly condemns those that deliberately add legalistic works to the pure gospel of Christ as being bewitched. He considers those that hold to this legalistic teaching to have been placed under a spell of the enemy and even adds that those who insist on adding to the gospel of grace should be accursed.
Then as now many of these legalists think they are doing what is right to hold fast to the Law of God.. but this is contrary to what the Bible teaches. In both the old and new testaments the just are saved by grace through faith and are to to live by grace through faith. No man or woman has ever been justified by keeping to the works of the Law.. for by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified in God's sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin - but faith in Christ's finished work alone justifies the sinner. Faith in Christ's finished work alone causes sinners to be made right with God.
Faith in Christ's cross and His shed blood alone is the price that the Father demands for payment for our sin and whoever believes in Him is saved by grace. Christ is the propitiation for our sins and God was satisfied with His Son's sacrifice on our behalf.. and through the teaching of the apostle Paul, God demands that we too recognises that Salvation is His free gift of grace to all who will trust in Christ's finished work at Calvary- But many sincere people find God's grace too shocking and inconceivable that they feel the only recourse is to revert back to the Law - which was give by God as an example of what the righteous Law demanded - but was NEVER as a formula on how to be saved.
Let us praise God for His saving grace, and may we continue to live our life by grace.. through faith in Him.
Heavenly Father, thank You that Jesus took the full punishment for my sins on the cross, and that my salvation is not based on the good things that I do to please You, but on the good work that Christ did on the cross on my behalf - which satisfies You. Keep me from trying to add to Christ's finished work on the cross, but may I live my life in a manner that is pleasing to You.. as I die to self and live for HIM, in Whose name I pray, AMEN.
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