6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Paul was blown away to learn that the church in Galatia was starting to teach a modified version of the gospel message he had preached. Many of the Christians in Galatia were raised Jewish and there was probably significant pressure to sprinkle back in some of the traditions and requirements of the Jewish faith, like circumcision.
The people responsible for said pressure were called the “Judaizers,” because they wanted to merge requirements of the Jewish faith back into Christianity. They believed that salvation was based on a combination of God’s grace and our own personal effort.
The Gospel, or good news, which Paul and the other Apostles were preaching, was simply this: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10, NIV).
It’s as simple as trusting Jesus as our Lord and Savior. The Judaizers said, “Wait, we’re going to make sure every man is circumcised as well, right?” The problem with that extra stipulation is that Jesus never taught that. They wanted to add that back in to avoid the pressure they felt from the Jewish community. They wanted to follow Jesus but also kind of still fit in with their friends and family who were Jewish.
Does that sound familiar? It should; it’s an age old problem for the church.
Thought for Today: Is there anything you believe people must do to be right with God other than openly submitting to Jesus? Maybe you doubt that someone who struggles with _______ sin can be saved. Or maybe you believe that we have to keep a strict moral code before we can be saved. Can you hear the echo from the Judaizers: “Wait, don’t they have to _______ as well?” The good news is we don’t have to have it all figured out to come to Jesus. When it comes to salvation, Jesus’ work on the cross is sufficient. It’s Jesus + nothing and anything added to that equation is just legalism.
Today’s Prayer: Father, give us eyes to see things the way you do. Break us free from the trap of legalism. Thank you for the love and mercy that you offered us at the cross—grace that we did not deserve. May we live lives that glorify you.