Strong Words – An Important Message

I believe Paul was willing to occasionally exaggerate to make an important point. Paul makes a very strong statement about those who are insisting that Gentile followers of Jesus be circumcised.

Here’s what he had to say.

Galatians 5.7-12You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth?

Such persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.

A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough.

I am confident about you in the Lord that you will not think otherwise. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty.

But my brothers and sisters, why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case, the offense of the cross has been removed.

I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!

The Problem in Brief

If you have followed the study in Galatians you know the problem was that Jewish believers were teaching that Gentile followers of Jesus needed to observe Jewish boundary markers.

A major sign of God’s covenant with Israel was circumcision. Paul knows that observance of Jewish boundary markers eliminates the distinction between the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

If Paul is still preaching a Jewish-centered message, he would be guilty of removing the significance of the cross and resurrection.

He is so adamant about the false teachers that he sarcastically calls for them to castrate themselves.

Two 2022 Applications

We are far removed from the issue Paul faced in Galatia, but his message is very appropriate today.

(1) Verse 12 has an important meaning for today. “You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth?”

How many people start well with Jesus, only to fall by the wayside?

Teresa of Avila was a Spanish nun in the 16th century. One of her most influential books was “The Interior Castle.” In that book, she imagined a castle made of pure crystal.

Conversion – When a person opens their life to Jesus, they enter the castle where a profound relationship with God is possible.

Growth – The early rooms of the castle near the moat are filled with bugs, snakes, and the like.

The image of bugs and snakes in the castle picture sins that must be conquered.

Deep Communion – As we progress in our devotion to Jesus, we move progressively from one room to another until we reach the inner chamber where there is constant dwelling with Jesus.

Think of Teresa’s vision of the interior castle and consider a person making the choice to stop moving closer to Jesus.

Someone may say, “I have all I want of Jesus, thank you. I don’t need anything else.”

We may wonder, “Who prevented you from obeying the truth? Who convinced you that you have enough of Jesus and don’t need anything else.?”

Let’s follow Teresa’s vision and desire to progress from room to room until our life with Jesus is as rich as possible.

(2) Another important application of this passage is the sentence in verse 9: “A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough.”

In a couple of days, we will examine the fruit of the flesh. The Biblical definition of the flesh that it is a life that is lived apart from God.

Walking in the Spirit refers to the dependence on the Holy Spirit, where living by the flesh is dependence on our own resources.

Paul listed behavior that results from dependence on our own resources. A partial list involves enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, and envy.

Keep in mind a small group at church, the church as a whole, or an AA home group. What if someone brings to that group some of the attitudes and actions that belong to the “fruit of the flesh”?

A little of that will infect and corrupt the whole group. That was Paul’s point. The false teachers were corrupting the church and he had strong words to oppose them.

Paul’s Anger

Paul reserved his anger for two specific situations. If people were being harmed by the behavior of others, Paul freely and decisively expressed his anger.

The letters to the Corinthians and Galatians contain strong statements of condemnation for people who hurt others in the body of Christ.

Paul did not hesitate to confront bad theology. He knew that bad theology was liable to corrupt the church.

What we think about God produces behavior with humans. Correct theology should fulfill the two greatest commandments – the love of God and others.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. Rudy adds a dimension to our understanding that you don’t get with my articles alone. I hope you will visit the Bob Spradling YouTube channel and listen to us.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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