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You Were Running Well

Paul has shifted from defending himself to being more on the offensive in chapter 5.  He is fighting hard in Galatians 5:7-12 to convince the Galatians that the Judaizers are false teachers and that the gospel he preached is the true one.

Paul begins verse 7 by telling the Galatians that You were running well.  I have run some races where I was going along fine.  Suddenly, I would crash and found myself struggling.  Others, I was able to run fine until the end.  Paul is painting a picture of a long distance race where the Galatians are now crashing, in danger of not finishing the race at all.

Who hindered you from obeying the truth?  This is really a rhetorical question.  In a sense Paul is saying Why are you fooling around with the Judaizers?  They are keeping you from obeying the truth.  What is the truth Paul is talking about?  Most likely it is the truth of the gospel he preached to them and the truth of that gospel being lived in their lives.  The Judaizers are hindering them from the truth.

Paul tells the Galatians that This persuasion is not from him who calls you.  God is the author of salvation.  It begins with Him.  Paul is drawing a line in the sand, stating that what the Judaizers are doing is not from the Lord.

A little leaven leavens the whole lump.  The Judaizers have not come in saying that everything Paul has taught them is wrong.  They likely agreed with many points that Paul made.  They make just enough small changes  to make their case sound good.

Every person that is broken down must be built back up.  Paul has been very forceful, but there comes a time that he has to be encouraging as well.  I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is.  Paul truly believes that he can win the Galatians back and that the Judaizers will be ultimately punished for their transgressions.

Evidently, Paul was accused of preaching circumcision in an attempt by the Judaizers to show that they and Paul were on the same page.  But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted?  Yet, for all intents and purposes, Paul was being persecuted within the Galatians church.  Paul asks, “If I am preaching circumcision like they are, what’s their beef with me?”  It is true that Paul had Timothy circumcised.  Timothy was half Jew and Paul did it for ethnic reasons, not reasons regarding faith.  If he was preaching circumcision, then the  offense of the cross has been removed.  If circumcision will buy you anything, then there is no need for the cross.  Basically Paul is saying that anyone who preaches grace plus law is preaching something that cannot be.  You must have one or the other.  Not both.

Paul takes strong words against the Judaizers to close these verses.  I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!  Paul wishes for the Judaizers to go ahead and take it one step further in the desire for circumcision.  There were pagan cults who would mutilate themselves for the god or goddess they served.  Paul, since he knows that circumcision, nor uncircumcision, are anything, suggests that the Judaizers just go ahead and take it to the next step.

Takeaways

1.  Just like a runner, we can be hindered in our race to the finish.

2.  It doesn’t take much sin to infect the entire person or group.

3.  Trusting in the Lord is our best defense against false teachers.

4.  Following truth will often lead you to being persecuted.

5.  The cross is offensive to many, if not most.

6.  Better to be mutilated going into the kingdom of heaven than to be whole and not.

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  1. August 25, 2013 at 6:39 am

    Good reminder that it’s not grace + something…it’s Grace.

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