By Brooke Holt
“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:8-16 NIV)
Paul relentlessly questions the Galatian believers. What did they believe and why? What did they want and why? Before Paul’s ministry to them, they were pagans who worshipped many false gods. This vain worship was nothing short of idolatry and spiritual bondage from which they had been set free. So, Paul questioned their freedom. Did they see what had been granted to them through the Gospel—freedom from the bondage of sin, Satan, and death? As these believers turned to the true God, they received full forgiveness of their sins and a new identity as God’s holy and chosen people.
By God’s providential hand, Paul was brought to Galatia to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As Paul explained, his visit was not his original plan, but it was God’s plan. Sickness or infirmity led Paul to Galatia, and these people welcomed him with open arms. They also welcomed the Gospel message he proclaimed. Paul spoke the truth about who Jesus was, what he had accomplished in his death and resurrection, and how Jesus made the way for all who believed in him to receive salvation.
Why had they forgotten or turned from that original Gospel? Once again, Paul clearly spoke God’s truth to the Galatians. There was only one Gospel. Righteousness came through Jesus Christ alone, not in keeping the law, not in observing special days and seasons, and not in earning the favor of the Judaizers or anyone else.
The Galatians had a choice—freedom/slavery, Jesus/Judaizers, Gospel/law. I can just imagine Paul’s deep emotion as he implored them to choose Jesus and his finished work on the cross.
Truth hurts as it exposes our sin and wayward thinking; however, Paul spoke the truth in love. His ultimate desire was for the Galatians to have the abundant life of Christ. Sadly, their hearts had become hard and their ears dull. The false teaching of the Judaizers drowned out God’s truth as spoken through Paul. Check your heart today!
How do you receive God’s truth? Are you willing to be humble, to receive, and respond to the conviction of the Gospel message? What do you want—freedom/slavery, Jesus/the world, Gospel/law? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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