I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.Galatians 4:11(NASB)
From start to finish, the book of Galatians outlines the deep concern that the apostle Paul showed for the Christians in Galatia who, having been saved by grace through faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and having been born from above, chose to give up the glorious liberty they had in Christ (salvation, through the hearing of faith) for the meritorious work and legalistic bondage from which they had been set free.
Having been delivered from pagan superstition and slavery to sin, they were willingly prepared to forsake the true and living way, choosing rather to return to the suffocating slavery from which Christ had set them free. They chose to turn from the law of grace back to the law of sin and death and to work for their salvation. Having been delivered from slavery to sin by faith and having been released from the curse of the Law, they returned to a works based salvation! It seems incredible that they willingly returned to the shackles of sin and the bondage of the Law, from which they had been fully pardoned by grace.
If salvation is gained any way, other than by grace through faith in the death, burial, and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, then Christ died in vain! If there was any other way to be declared righteous before God and receive forgiveness of our sin, other than through the finished work of Christ - then His sacrifice was not sufficient! And yet, these believers had returned to pre-Cross bondage and slavery to sin, Satan, and the Law from which Christ had set them free. It is incredible to think that this gross apostasy was taking place only a short time after Paul had taught them the truth of the glorious gospel of grace - and yet this situation was not unique to this church in Galatia, for this attitude and practice is increasingly popular in the churches of today.
No surprise that Paul cried out in desperation, "Oh foolish Galatians.. who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth?" No wonder that Paul proclaimed in anguish of heart, "I fear for you.. that perhaps I have laboured over you in vain." Paul likened his love for these Galatians believers to a woman who reached the point of utter exhaustion when giving birth to a baby.
Page after page, Paul had contended with the Galatians because they had abandoned the liberty of the Christian faith, having been seduced by the Judaisers of the day into adopting the restrictive practices of the pre-Cross legalistic Judaism. These dear believers had come to a knowledge of the Lord Jesus, but had turned from the truth of the gospel of grace to the beggarly elements of the Law by starting to add various rites and rituals into this fellowship of believers. They started to strictly observe feast days and monthly rituals, seasons and years, from which the Cross of Christ had set them free.
The Galatian believers were observing Jewish rituals, Jewish rites, Jewish festivals, Jewish feasts, Jewish seasons, Jewish ceremonies, and Jewish laws. They professed to be Christians and yet resorted to trying to please God and to attain righteousness by keeping these rituals, rites, festivals, feasts, seasons, ceremonies, and laws. The only reason that we are declared righteousness is because we are positioned in Christ by faith, accepted in the Beloved, and covered in His cloak of righteousness. Righteousness is not something that man can ever achieve and resorting to please God this way, through our own merit and works, is the path to ruin. We are declared righteous by faith in the only begotten Son of God for the forgiveness of our sin and we are to continue to LIVE by grace through faith and not by works of the law.
Today, the innumerable paths that people take to try to get favour with God or attain holiness is unprecedented. Most people seem to know that the only way to be saved is by grace through faith in Christ... but we are also to live by faith and to grow in grace. We are not to be saved through Christ alone and then live our lives in our own strength or by participating in an increasing array of rituals, rites, festivals, feasts, seasons, ceremonies and laws. We are to live our lives - by grace alone through faith alone in Christ ALONE.
Heavenly Father, thank You that I am not only justified by faith through the power of the Spirit, but I am to live by faith through the power of the Spirit, to walk by faith through the power of the Spirit, to grow in grace by faith through the power of the Spirit, and to become spiritually mature in the faith and sanctified through the power of the Spirit. Thank You that neither my justification nor my sanctification depends on what I do or do not do, but on what Christ did on the Cross and what Christ is doing in my life today so that it is not I that live but Christ that lives in me. In Jesus' name, AMEN.