June 26, 2014.
“Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
This is a very interesting passage to me as I think it teaches some points that may or may not be taught very often. Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia seems to be one of heavy correction as he begins the letter with “I marvel that you are so soon removed…” I think Paul was somewhat exasperated with this church and what they had turned Christianity into. There are two lessons I think we can take from this passage.
The first thing that this passage tells me is that the Old Law has served its purpose and is no longer in effect. For mainline Christians, this is nothing new as this is the typical teaching. But for those who still hold that the Old Law is still in effect today, Paul’s letters (and Hebrews) basically have to be discarded. A simply look at Hebrews will show that the Old Law was for those who lived in the time before Christ and that the New Covenent is a better covenant.
“They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.”
This is just a small section in a bigger explanation. It is obvious that Paul and the writer of Hebrews considered the Old Law null to those under the law of Christ. So much so that he said that we were severed from Christ if we consider and teach that the Old Law is still in effect. That brings me to the second point that I think can be drawn from this passage. It is clear that those who taught others to keep circumcision as a matter of law were fallen from grace. How could this be?
Specifically, those teaching circumcision as a matter of salvation were in effect nullifying the sacrifice of Christ and the power of his blood. If the Old Law could save, why would we need Christ? Why do we need a “better covenant”? But these people were relying on the power of the Old Law as opposed to the power of Christ, thus severing themselves from Him.
It is important to point out that these people were not leaving the teaching of Christ. They still believed in the Messiah. This says to me that if we leave the doctrine of Christ, we are leaving Christ himself, though we still believe Him to be the Son of God. There are many who do not believe this, but there is ample Scripture to back up this position. I will provide one from James as an example.
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
I will let you explore more on your own. Let us continue in the truth as taught from the word of God.
Suggested Daily Reading: Galatians 5, Hebrews 7-9.
The Lord bless you and keep you.