Cut Off What?!? Galatians 5:1-15

January 16, 2012

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If you have been following the 7 Minutes a Day Series, you know that the issue Paul is dealing with in Galatians is a false teaching of Jesus + circumcision. According to these false teachers, it was the secret to the successful Christian life. It is into this situation that Paul writes his letter to the Galatians.

As you read, ask yourself if you are as serious about a “Jesus +” mentality as Paul was.

Click HERE to read the text : Galatians 5:1-15

Galatians 5:1 has echoes of redemption and righteousness, showing the Galatians were set free from trying to measure up to the Law. Why would they go back to it? Works based salvation is equated to slavery. By trying to improve the work of Christ with the act of circumcision, the Galatians are going back to the Law (a works based system).

Paul really uncovers his true emotions later in chapter 5:7-12. He ends this picture by wishing emasculation upon his adversaries.

Wow! Paul might need some anger management!

The Galatians were living the Christian life well until this false teaching came around, now they are struggling. Paul is fed up. We see Paul the apostle wishing bodily harm on these men through castration.

In Paul’s defense, I believe he is not only expressing his emotions but making a point. Remember what act the false teachers were advocating as the way to a closer walk with God. It was circumcision. Circumcision is a small act, cutting a little bit off.

Paul has a suggestion for these fellows. If cutting a little bit off makes you holy, couldn’t they do better? What if they cut it all off through castration? If a little bit makes them holy, logic says cutting more off would make them far holier!

Ouch!

Paul’s point here illustrates the dilemma we have when works are involved.

How do you know when God is pleased?
Is he pleased with circumcision?
If He likes that, what if you go one better and castrate yourself?
Maybe God would really be happy with you!

I have never been in a modern church service where the pastor promoted the merits of circumcision as a tool for spiritual growth. But, I have heard many teachings that use the same formula. No longer do we promote “Jesus + circumcision = being a good Christian”. However, the basic formula of “Jesus + _____________= being a good Christian” seems common to every generation and culture.

Over the years, I have surveyed audiences regarding what gets placed in the blank of this equation. On tomorrow’s post, we will look at some of the most common answers. We will see that even good things placed in the context of a formula, eventually fall short. 

We will expose the danger of a “Jesus +” mentality as well as examine the proper place of these disciplines in our lives.

Related Links for 7 Minutes a Day:  Galatians Series
Introduction and Summary of the book
Galatians 1:1-10
Galatians 1:11-24
Galatians 2:1-14
Galatians 2:15-22
Galatians 3:1-14
Galatians 3:15-29

Galatians 4:1-31

 

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God