Listen:  73 Question 3

Before we try to answer your question, let’s get a little bit of background.  We learn in Acts, chapter 16, that the Apostle Paul, on his second missionary journey visited Galatia, a Gentile region, along with other places.  He had a young man named Timothy with him when he visited this region and as was his custom, he was teaching and preaching the Word of the Lord.  On this trip, Paul was well received by the Galatians as Paul mentioned in Galatians 4:13-14, “Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.”  We also know from Acts 18:23 that Paul re-visited Galatia to encourage the saints.  That says, “And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.”  So, Paul visited Galatia at least twice and was well thought of by the Galatians.

Paul’s reason for writing to the Galatians was that they were being drawn away from the true Gospel by some who were trying to mingle law with grace, two things that do not belong together.  These people were teaching that salvation comes by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, plus keeping the law.  It was a mixture of Christianity and Judaism.  Listen to Paul’s stern words in Galatians 1:6-8, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”  Galatians is one of the strongest, sternest books the Lord led Paul to write.  So much was at stake here.  The entirety of this book is taken up with the teaching that salvation is a free gift from God based on faith, not the keeping of the law.  He wrote in Galatians 2:16, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Now let’s read Galatians 5:1-4, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”  These Judaizers were teaching the Galatians that circumcision was a necessary part of salvation.  Paul boldly stated that if circumcision is performed as an act of keeping the law, then it is making the death of Christ to be of no benefit.  How important it is that we all realize that salvation is 100% the work of Christ.  To add to the work of Christ, is to diminish the work of Christ.  Titus 3:5-7 tells us that salvation is, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;  That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  Paul points out that to keep one point of the law makes us responsible to keep every point of the law, and in doing this; we are completely denying the sacrificial work of Christ as our sin bearer.  In effect, when we try to keep the law, we are acting as if we are our own savior.  We are living as though it is our works of righteousness that helps to save us.  This is not salvation.  This is serious error.

In trying to keep the law, they were not resting on the finished work of Christ.  To try to keep salvation by keeping the law is to fall from grace.  It is to no longer stand on the principle of grace, but to stand on the principle of works.  The believer never has to try to be righteous before God.  In Christ, the believer is the righteousness of God as we read in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Paul’s frustration shows in Galatians 5:7-8 where he writes, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?  This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.”  They had started out well, in faith, but had allowed some to persuade them that they needed to also keep the law.  This did not come from God and they needed to reject it.  Paul goes on to express his confidence in the Galatian believers that they would not leave the ground of truth as he says in Galatians 5:10, “I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded…”

May we all be aware of the words of the Apostle in Galatians 3:11, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.”