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. but if i, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am i still being persecuted? in that case the offense of the cross has been removed. [galatians 5:10-11]
if the “troubling one” was a baker, his recipe would be the following:
mix a cup of Jesus + a dash of your own works. bake at 450 degrees to create a whole loaf of pride and self-exaltation.
in other words, this is a recipe for disaster. false teaching may look and taste good initially, but this pseudo-gospel leaves a mess of destruction.
the judaizers were attempting to convince the newly-converted galatians to not only believe in Jesus, but to also practice circumcision in order to achieve true salvation. let’s break down these two verses:
10 i have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view,
amidst the heresy, paul entrusted the outcome to the Lord. instead of nervously rushing to galatia to fix the problem by his own strength, he put his faith in the character of the Lord to keep the galatians fixated upon the true gospel. reflect upon the pursuing and steadfast character of the Lord to keep His people rooted in Him alone:
[Jesus speaking to the crowd in capernaum] “…and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” [john 6:39]
Jesus loves us too much to leave us to our own messy devices and false doctrines. he disciplines and challenges us to look to him, not heresy. praise God!
…and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is.
the stark reality is that false teachers will face damnation. peter shares that there are false teachers that will spread heresy, which denies Jesus’ redemption power or even denies the existence of God [2 peter 2:1-2]. peter continues in verse 3, “their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
God is not idle. he does not sit back or avoid conflict. in his perfect timing, he will avenge, for one thing the Lord hates is a “false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers,” [proverbs 6:19].
but if i, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am i still being persecuted? in that case the offense of the cross has been removed.
some commentators speculate that paul was being misrepresented; there was a rumor going around that paul affirmed the idea of Jesus + circumcision = salvation. paul puts an end to the lies right away. paul states that the power of Jesus’ death on the cross would appear to be diminished, and therefore more palatable to the human race, if paul was still advocating that circumcision helps to save people.
the cross held our perfect Savior, who would die and rise again to reconcile us to God. it was the most epic moment of history. when Jesus died, the great temple veil was torn in two, from top to bottom. the earth shook. rocks split. tombs were opened. bodies were raised [matthew 27:51-52].
who are we to think that our minuscule efforts could ever match Jesus’ epic execution of God’s reconciliation plan? isaiah states that our righteous acts are like a polluted garment [isaiah 64:6]. yet, we so often try to put our works on the same scale as Jesus’ work to redeem us… but nothing can ever compare to Christ’s death and resurrection!
here is the really great news: Jesus’ work was finished on the cross. HE did the work to reconcile us to Himself. when we start to believe Jesus + our works = salvation, we can repent and turn to God in our messiness. he welcomes us into his throne room as his children. we can then do good works from the joy of salvation, not desperately fighting for our salvation. hallelujah!
Father God, thank you for how you hold onto us. you are faithful, despite our faithlessness. thank you that our works do not set us free, so we have the opportunity to depend on you and learn more of your character. help us to see dependence upon you as a gift and not a burden. free us from ourselves, for we belong to you. amen.