But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces?
Thoughts for Today:In our passage today, Paul asks the Galatians if they really wanted to trade their freedom in Christ Jesus for bondage under the Law in which earning righteousness would become their own responsibility. In many ways, the legalism they were beginning to embrace was very similar to the idolatry they practiced before their salvation (previous verse 8). Just like worshipping idols, legalism assumes that God is an angry and vengeful god, who can only be satisfied with significant human efforts (offering and sacrifice). The Judaizers in Galatia also retained a highly legalistic interpretation of Old Testament Law. This included countless rules and regulations, and thereby would be considered bondage and comparable to any false religion.
Paul refers to the Law as "weak" (powerless to save), and "miserable" (inadequate on its own). On the other hand, Christianity presents a completely different picture of God: merciful, patient, kind, forgiving and loving. He personally paid for our sins, and offers His sacrifice as a free gift of salvation to anyone who believes and has faith in Him.
The Law is good in its proper place (Romans 3:19: "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.); and if used for the appropriate purpose (Romans 3:31: "Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law."). However, any attempt to combine the rules and regulations of the Law with the Gospel is bondage.
Questions to Ponder:One of the greatest ways to squash the joy out of a Christian's life is to tell them they aren't doing enough and God won't be pleased with them unless they follow more rules and regulations. In other words, introducing guilt into a believer's relationship with Jesus. Certainly we have a responsibility to follow Jesus, however choosing to serve and adjusting our life to His will should be a free-will choice in response to our personal love for our Savior -- no guilt involved. In what ways have you instructed new believers? How will you adjust your counsel according to the principles Paul has been discussing?