O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? (Galatians 3:1, KJV 1900)
The Apostle Paul rebuked the Galatians with the stern words above “o foolish Galatians, who had bewitched you.” This is one of the most grievous rebukes to God’s people I have seen so far in the New Testament. What did the Galatians do that resulted in such a harsh rebuke from the Apostle? In fact, it is so severe that Paul says it can only take a spell for someone to do what they were doing. That is, they had to have been bewitched to do it. You cannot but ask the question to know what on earth these Galatians did.
We may immediately think of horrible sins such as sexual immorality, idolatry or the like. Well, it was none of these things. And what they did might shock some of you because it appears so subtle and innocent that many of us might not even think it is a big issue. The truth is many of us are doing the same things today without even realizing it.
Well, this is what the Galatians did. The Galatian Church was a Gentile Church. When Paul preached the Gospel to them, they believed in the work of Jesus and were saved and filled with the Spirit. They had no idea about the Jewish laws. They only believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ and were saved. When Paul left Galatia, Jewish teachers came to the Church and started teaching the people that they cannot be saved by believing the Gospel alone. They had to obey the Jewish laws and be circumcised. So the Galatians began getting circumcised to “really get saved.” This is the terrible spiritual blonder. They had moved from grace to works. It was not the act of circumcision per se that mattered. It was their trust in the fact that when they get circumcised according to Jewish laws, then they will be saved.
This spiritual error continues today. It might not be circumcision. It could be any of the Jewish customs. Have you met people who still think that keeping some Jewish feast or praying with the Jewish prayer shawl will open a special blessing to them? You see, the specific act is not as important as the intention. Trying to obey some OT religious laws to receive some special favor or blessing is repeating what the Galatians did. This is a dangerous trend that is rising in the Church in many circles today. And many are not even aware of it. Some also think it is a sign of being very “deep in the faith”.
Be careful. There is no blessing from God you do not have in Christ. Do not try to earn His favor or blessing through what you do.Instead, believe in what Jesus has done and learn to put to work the blessings you have received!
What happens when we stop trusting Jesus and start trying to work out things for ourselves? ( See Gal. 5:4)
APPLY THE WORD
It was circumcision to the Galatians. It may be something else to you, maybe some Jewish feast or ceremony or religious object. Or it might even be church attendance, tithing, giving, prayer, etc. Whatever you do TO EARN God’s favor which Christ has already brought to you will surely bring the same harsh rebuke from the Lord to you. Trust in Christ alone and learn to work out your salvation and beware of the subtle dead works of the law.
Ask the Lord to help you avoid the mistake of the Galatians in your daily walk with the Lord.