It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Gal. 5:1 NIV
Please click the link above to download the full text of this Ministration.
The Apostle Paul had heard about the new development amongst the brethren in Galatia. How that some Judaizers had succeeded in making the brethren there, believe that they will need to subject themselves to the requirements of the laws of the Old Testament including the need for them to be circumcised before they can be justified and accepted into the Christian family. To put more validation around their argument, they must have put up arguments to discredit Paul, as one who was authorized to preach the gospel at all, more so, criticise a long standing belief of the Jews, founded in the laws of God. In an attempt to avoid being seen as trying to win the support of men, he started his letter to the Galatians by providing information to support his claim with regards to been authorized to preach the gospel that he preached amongst them – Gal. 1:6-10.
According to him, not only did he have the authorisation of the Almighty God, he also had the approval of the leaders of the church who were then based in Jerusalem. In his argument, he made it clear that he had the calling of the Lord right from his birth, although it did not manifest until later in life, but as soon as he got a revelation of what the plan of God for his life was, he immediately started working on it by preaching in the region of Arabia and then Damascus, without seeking the approval of any man – Gal. 1:11-17.
He had been preaching the Word in these areas for upward of three years before going to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter for fifteen days, during which period he met no other Apostle aside from James, the brother of Jesus Christ. All these he relayed in his letter to the Jews to prove that he did not get the knowledge of his message from men but was purely an inspiration from the Lord – Gal. 1:18-24.
Despite the fact that he had no human mentor, the content of his message still got the approval of the elders of the Church in Jerusalem, fourteen years later, when in response to a revelation, he set before them the content of the gospel he had been preaching to the gentiles – Gal. 2:1-10. Not only was he given recognition as the Apostle of God to the Gentiles, just like Peter is to the Jews, they also did not ask that Titus, who they knew to be a Greek, be circumcised. So, as far as he was concerned, he was more than qualified to preach the gospel he preached amongst them.
Going further, he let the Galatians know that the intention of the Judaizers in their midst was to win them to their side by discrediting him (Gal. 4:17-18), but they need to know that even when Peter attempted to dance to their tune by openly dissociating from the gentiles, after initially dining with them, he openly accused him of hypocrisy and deceit as his message was one that he was ready to defend at every point, whether privately or openly – Gal. 2:11-21.
Wondering further why the Galatians would allow themselves to be swayed by the argument of these Judaizers, which he saw as an attempt to deprive them of the freedom that they were enjoying in Christ Jesus, he asked them whether all that they had enjoyed after the experience of new birth was no longer real as all these had obviously been gotten despite their not been circumcised or following any other requirements of Judaism – Gal. 3:1-5. They could only be fools to have allowed anyone to win them over with questioning his qualification and authorization to preach the gospel, and the authenticity of the message he preached, and this opinion he also conveyed to them adding that even the scriptures foresaw that God will justify the gentiles by faith – Gal. 3:6-25.
The essence of the gospel of Christ as preached to them by himself was to, amongst other advantages, grant them freedom from all encumbrances, physical or spiritual that turned worship of God into slavery and bondage, and in the scripture that is the foundation of today’s Devotional, he advised them against allowing anyone to put that yoke of slavery back on them, as then, the whole reason for the gospel of Christ would have been defeated.
The Apostle Paul, who himself was a Jew, made it clear that he was by no means condoning sins by preaching the message of justification through Christ, but merely making known the Grace that is available in Christ Jesus – Gal. 3:15-21. All he wanted the people to know was that there was no way righteousness could be obtained by observing the law, and, accepting to go back to the observance of the law was sliding back into what constitutes bondage and slavery, and even then, such action was not going to be effective in achieving the goal for which the law was made in the first place, which is to save man from the consequences of sin. He was simply an advocate of a better route to salvation.
The intention of Jesus Christ when he died was to set all free, not only from the burden of sin but also from all physical encumbrances to a truly rewarding worship. That divine intention would be defeated if anyone chooses to go back to a form of worship that will not only return them into bondage, but cannot assure them of salvation from the consequences of sin. He therefore advised them to stand firm and avoid been burdened again by the yoke of slavery – Gal. 5:1.
Although there is no record of how the Galatians reacted to the letter of Paul, there is no ambiguity in knowing how the Christian today is reacting to that same letter, which like the Word of God that it is, remains relevant then, today and forever. Today’s Christian just seems to believe that there must be some physical exertion, loss and pain of some sorts, when presenting requests to the Almighty God, for Him to grant such request. They find it difficult to accept the message that Christ has cancelled all our debts when he nailed all our sins to the cross thereby taking away all pain and sorrow – Isa. 53:4-5; Col. 2:14. They take the popular phrase, “No Pain, No Gain” to extremes that give the impression that nothing would be received from the Lord if some level of pain has not been inflicted on self. They seem to find it difficult to accept and believe the simple fact that all they need do to be saved is to simply and genuinely accept Christ as Lord and Saviour. They believe that there must be pain of hunger due to fasting, discomfort due to sleeplessness resulting from unrelenting night vigils, seed sowing that pauperizes the sower and several similar painful experiences, before prayers can be answered. The result is their exploitation by several of their leaders, who themselves have taken the position of the Pharisees and Teachers of old that say one thing and do another (Matt. 23:1-7), as they are mostly excluded from these painful experiences, which in most cases were prescribed by them.
What becomes surprising is the willingness of the average Christian follower to continue to accept these painful experiences, despite all the available evidence that point to their been exploited by their leader. One is therefore left with no choice than to describe them in the language of Paul. They must be indeed foolish. Foolish not to see that inflicting pain on themselves, like what the prophets of Baal did during their encounter with Elijah (1Kgs. 16:29), was only going to produce failure, and so they need to stop at some point. Foolish not to observe that the several positives they are getting are not even slightly related to all that physical pain that is been inflicted on self.
Jesus indeed paid all the price and left the true Christian with no debt to pay. There may be the need to carry out some spiritual activities or exercises and maintain a standard lifestyle befitting of a Christian, but there is no reason why such should lead to severe pain for the Christian. The Almighty God may require those exercises today as a form of test for obedience but it should never be believed for a second that, going through such pain, outside divine directives, can away the decision of a great God called Jehovah. Plead for divine wisdom to live your Christian life, and save yourself thereby from acts that can be described as foolishness. May God grant us the required wisdom to avoid foolishness in Jesus name. Amen.