Liberty or Legalism

Galatians is unlike any other epistle of Paul’s authorship. Usually he gives the audiences praises and encouragements. But here we find that Paul doesn’t give a glowing salutation, but a condemnation. He immediately speaks to the Galatians as foolish. The foolishness is contained in the “easily being bewitched” to another Gospel. Galatians is a good example of the opposition that Paul dealt with in trying to start and build up churches. The Judaizers were still telling “believers” that the LAW of Moses was still effective and must be observed.  Paul and Barnabas addressed some of the issues about observing the LAW in Acts 15 Council. The Jewish believers felt that the LAW still stood, and needed to be observed by the Gentiles, to included specifically being circumcised. This could be looked at just a transition from Judaism to Christianity, but the implications were deeper than that alone.

Paul instructs the Galatians that there isn’t another Gospel; and if someone [even them] preaches another Gospel that they are to be cursed. [anathema]  The point of argument comes down to simply – are we saved by the Law or Grace? The liberty found in the Gospel of Grace often gets shackled by “religiosity” even today. The  point of Paul is God has redeemed you from the tyranny of the Law. The Law is beneficial, only as a schoolmaster; in other words to teach us that we are sinners and in great need of salvation. The Law is no longer needed after is has brought the true repentance necessary for salvation. Once a person has confessed and repented of sin, and are saved under Grace, the Law is set aside. The issue here is not salvation but sanctification. Sanctification is what we do after we are saved. The Jews were incarcerated to a works mentality.

In Christ we have freedom, we have been set free from the “righteousness by works.” This does not mean we are free to violate the Word of God; it means that we are no longer under rituals and regulations in “attempt to gain favor with God.”  The Council at Jerusalem did not find any fault with Paul’s preaching to the Gentiles, in fact they added nothing to his message of salvation to the Gentiles.

Paul also had to defend his Apostleship to the Galatian believers. The Judaizers were trying to discredit Paul and his preaching. Paul in his defense tells that his Gospel did not come from the Apostles or the “men of reputation” in Jerusalem, but from God.  The contention of trying to make the Gentile believers become Jews hits a high point when Paul had to confront Peter’s hypocrisy. Peter would engage in the freedom of eating and fellowshipping with Gentile believers, yet separated himself from them when prominent men from Jerusalem came down.

Paul comes straight to the point – “Oh foolish Galatians having begun in the Spirit are you now going to walk in the Flesh?” If we have been set free from the “works of the Law” at salvation, why would we want to be re-shackled to”performance oriented Christianity?

We have died to the Law, so we can live in the joy of Faith!

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