- Published: 13 December 2010
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This error was on the part of Gentile believers, not Jewish saints. It is a common error today. It was acknowledged by them that they had begun their Christian life in the spirit or new nature. But somehow, they got the idea that they must keep their salvation by their own works, which of course would be by the flesh or old nature.
Since these Gentile believers went to the Synagogues every Sabbath and had direct contact with Judaism and all its rituals and ceremonies, it was a temptation for them to adopt these things too. But there was only one way to do this. They first had to be circumcised. These Gentile believers knew very well that the Passover and other feasts and ceremonies of the Jews could not be observed by the uncircumcised. That is not widely known today.
So it would be a simple matter to be circumcised and then one could partake of the services, read in the Synagogue, and have part in a the Jewish social life. All this appealed to the flesh.
They are told in 3:7 that they are the children of Abraham by faith, and by faith can partake of the promise. This is the gospel of the grace of God. It was the good news that they could have all the blessings of the promise without keeping any part of the law. They were to walk by grace, not by the law. They were to live by faith, not by works.
They were reminded that even the Jews had been told in Hab 2:4 that the just live by faith. The law cannot give life, therefore there is no justification by the deeds of the law. As in verse 9, so again in verse 14 he reminds the Gentile believers that the blessings of Abraham come to Gentiles through faith, not by works of the law.
Then down in verse 19 Paul tells these folks why Israel had the law. It was something that was added to the promise because of the transgression. He hastens to add that the law did not deprive Israel of anything in the promise.
In chapter 4 Paul gives them a little allegory to bring home to them the truth he is trying to teach. It is well to think it over, even today.
In chapter 5 he tells them to stand fast in the liberty they have. Once they were in bondage to sin and now they want to be in bondage to the law. He tells them not to get entangled with any bondage. If they were to be circumcised, then they would be obliged to keep the whole law. They would not be at liberty to observe that which they liked as do the legalists today. He makes it plain that any who have taken up this Galatian error and thinks to be justified by the work of the flesh, has fallen from grace, that is, turned his back on the gospel of the grace of God.
Then further on he tells them about the works of the flesh and the fruits of the spirit (new nature). This is plain unvarnished truth. He tells how these two natures are at enmity with each other. He then sums up his argument by telling those Gentile believers who have the new nature or spirit to walk by it and reckon the old nature crucified, dead. Has this truth been changed for these days?