“This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!” – Galatians 5:9 (NLT)
What motivates us when we perform good deeds? Do we still think that our good work saves us from the wrath of God? Do we feel relieved that we are better than other people? Are we satisfied and somehow safe for the heavenly future because of our religious life? In addition to believing in salvation in Christ, do we also think about some rules or regulations we need to fulfill in order to secure a place in heaven?
Our reading today expresses the troubled-heart Apostle Paul had when he found out that some believers were still counting on the circumcision along with accepting Christ Jesus as their Savior. Some people spread false doctrine that in order to make themselves right with God, people need to follow the law, for example by being circumcised. Paul gave a vigorous statement considering the liberty or freedom we have in Christ. He even wished those trouble makers who insisted on circumcision to mutilate themselves! (Verse 12). He protected the purity of Christ doctrine so much that he warned those people for the judgment of God because they brought confusion (Verse 10) and held people back from following the truth (Verse 7). Paul compared this teaching with a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough (Verse 9). Only a little yeast is needed to influence the whole lump. Only a little falsity is needed to infiltrate the truth, instill doubt and destroy the foundation of faith we have on the perfect work of Christ on the cross.
Apostle Paul keeps reminding us all about how sufficient Christ Jesus is. The salvation through the cross of Christ is enough to save the sinners who believe in Him. If someone is still adding the law to make himself right with God then Christ has no value for that person (Gal 5:2). Being legalistic is false. It separates us from the grace of God in Christ (Gal 5:4).
This message is a relief for those who struggle with sins and really want to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ. As we accept Christ as our beloved Savior, the Holy Spirit works inside us. "For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love" (Gal 5:6). Our faith makes us appreciate God. We love Him and thus love others. We progress over time into a mature Christian.
When we put our hope in the law we perform, that means we depend on our own selves to be justified before God – which is a useless attempt. Sin has been in our life since the fall of Adam. Isaiah 64:6 says, “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags…”
No one could save us but Jesus Christ - the Son of God, who came, died and resurrected to redeem us from the eternal condemnation. He suffered tremendously to take over the wrath of God from us and accomplished it successfully. Let no one or other teaching replace this truth. Praise be to God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Reflections on Galatians 5:7-12 by Desire Litaay
(Listen to the Podcast here)