In his letter to the Galatians, Paul is dealing with some of the most serious, vital, and central questions, which were confronting the Church of Jesus Christ in its very early days.
These disciples of Jesus Christ were on the point of being misled on some of the most crucially important matters. Paul confronted the situation when he learned about it. Paul faced up to Peter. Paul spelled out what the issues were - and he explained why these believers must not allow themselves to be sidetracked and diverted.
Today we are facing a very similar dilemma - the issues may be slightly different - although perhaps they are not. We must be tolerant of what others believe! We must not hold too hard and fast to one book - the Bible! We must consider the claims and rights of others, irrespective of what your Bible says – even regarding Israel! The world has moved on from the Bible!
It has moved, but not moved on!
Consider carefully Chapter 4 and verses 8,9, in the light of these statements which we hear regularly.
Psychology - Philosophy - Sociology - the theories of how we evolved - all challenge the fundamentals of what God has said in His Word.
Do we wish to choose to become slaves of those thought patterns and values?
These are legalism - carnality - regulations and rituals - by another name.
How did you receive the Holy Spirit - by some psychological trick - or philosophical development - or by some new thought process - or did you receive the power of the Holy Spirit from Jesus?
We took time to consider Abraham and we saw how faith in Jesus Christ releases and liberates and sets us free from trying to trusting. We saw how we have become sons of God. Do we want to return to being slaves again?
Paul is writing to people who had not known God – just as many do not know God today. These people were slaves - to things which were not even ‘gods’.
We will be slaves to something or to someone. A man or woman will either be in the kingdom of darkness or the kingdom of light.
Turn over two pages to Ephesians 2 - the next letter - where we read in verse 12 - Paul is explaining to these believers what they were experiencing before they came to God - before they came to Jesus Christ - and the condition they were in. They were separate from Christ - excluded from citizenship in Israel - foreigners to the Covenants of the Promise - without hope - without God in the world. What a condition to be in!
Who would want to remain in such a condition knowing that there is something far better?
In verse 13Paul goes on to explain what happened. What is it that brought us near to God? The Blood of Christ! And what is it that brings us near to one another? The Blood of Christ! Remember how serious the problem was in the Galatian fellowships.
We return to the Galatian letter. Through Jesus Christ these men and women had come to know GOD, and presumably enjoy God, and enjoy knowing God, and worshipping God, and enjoying His blessing and presence.
They had been filled with the Holy Spirit - they had tasted the love of God - they had been taught by men of God.
But someone - or some group - had come along - and said - "You must begin to do things this way - you must adhere to these rules - and our rules and rituals are better than anybody else's. And if you don't keep these rules - and adhere to these ways - and observe our laws – these things are said and taught today - and some were on the point of falling for this subtle deception.
No wonder Paul writes at length and so strongly - Why are you turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Chapter 4 verse 9.
Beware of those who creep in with false teaching – and it can appear in the most respectable garb.
“Lord Jesus – You had to face temptation and false teachers – help us at such times to be brave and courageous – and to speak graciously and lovingly.” Amen.
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