You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. – Gal. 3:1 NIV
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Paul had suggested to Barnabas that they both visit the brothers in the towns where the Word had been preached during their first Missionary journey, an idea that was accepted by the latter, but due to irreconcilable differences in opinion, between both of them, with regards to allowing or not allowing Mark, who had earlier deserted them in Pamphylia, during their first missionary journey, to continue with them on their second missionary journey, they both chose to go their different ways. This must have prompted Paul to change the route of his journey, as instead of going through the same route they travelled, during the first missionary journey, he went through a different route, this time in the company of Silas, cutting off the churches in Cyprus and the region of Pamphylia, whilst Barnabas went with Mark – Acts 15:36-41.
Paul spent the early part of his second missionary journey in the region of Galatia, having crossed the region of Cilicia, strengthening the churches that had been established there, during their first missionary journey. Probably due to being restricted by the Holy Spirit to that region for a while, he and his companions traveled throughout the region preaching the Word, and with the amount of time and effort expended amongst the brethren of that region, he must have concluded that they were sufficiently grounded in the Word. The scripture notes that the additional act of relating the decision the Council in Jerusalem to the brethren in those Churches, further helped to strengthen and grow their number and their Faith on a daily basis – Acts 15:1-35; 16:5-7. At least, that was what they thought until the news of the performance of the brethren in that region after their departure, started reaching them. Obviously, a different set of people called Judaizers, who were advocates of Judaism had infiltrated the brethren, teaching them that they were not fully saved until they obeyed all the Jewish laws, such as Circumcision, eating special foods and celebrating Jewish feast days. More disappointingly for Paul was the fact that such a doctrine could still find space amongst them, despite the amount of effort and time invested into their spiritual development. No wonder, in the foundation scripture for today’s Devotional, he described them as foolish, believing that they had been bewitched, or how else could he have imagined that anyone would have been able to successfully convince them to change from a doctrine, which valuable time was spent imparting into them, and which provided them unfettered access to all the advantages inherent in being Christians – Gal. 3:1.
Wondering why they could have allowed themselves to be so easily deceived, he asked them three pertinent questions, the answer of which should help reveal to them, how much of foolishness they had allowed to reign in their thoughts and actions. These questions remain valid today as it will protect Christians against doctrines that quietly penetrate their spirituality, resulting in them living a Christian life more burdensome, and potentially derailing them from the true Faith. These are as follows:
- He asked them if they received the Holy Spirit by observing the law or by simply believing what they heard – Gal. 3:2.
- He asked them if they believe they can achieve their goals and objectives by human efforts – Gal. 3:3.
- He asked them if God gave them His Spirit and wrought His miracles amongst them because they observed the law or simply because they believed what they heard – Gal. 3:5.
Their responses to the above questions, although not made known in the scriptures, should be able to reveal to them whether they were inflicting unnecessary pain on themselves in their effort to attain perfection and justification, through acts that can best be described as human efforts – Gal. 3:4.
Although we are not privy to the reaction of the Galatians to the above questions, that the Christian today would not have to keep asking and answering those questions, in order to avoid the barrage of doctrines that are threatening the foundation of their Faith, thus making life in Christianity very excruciating, is not in doubt. The human laws and restrictions that have been subtly introduced into the practice of Christianity today has moved more people away from the faith rather than bring them into it. This is not to say that there are no standards expected to be observed by the Christian, but it remains to be proven whether some of the standards been advocated for, today, by many Christian leaders and denominations have their foundation in Jehovah.
The average Christian today is experiencing so much pain having to live in observance of some of the guiding principles of today’s Christian denominations, so much that a religion that is expected to bring peace and comfort, is being questioned by many because it seems to be inflicting so much pain and discomfort. It would be necessary for Christian leaders to assess the aptness of these laws with regards to its divine origin, by answering the questions that Paul asked the Galatians, as that may just be the solution to the pain being experienced in Christendom today.
Of course, the Grace of God is available on the basis of strict compliance to some conditions, but there may be the need to be sure that the devil has not, in its usual cunningness, introduced pain into the Christian life through some seemingly divine laws that have absolutely nothing to do with the salvation of the Christian, but is rather depleting the number of souls being harvested into the kingdom of God. May God grant us all the wisdom to avoid foolishness in our Christian life in Jesus name. Amen.