We are still visiting with Paul as he writes to the Galatian believers. They are confused about their salvation and knowledge of the Gospel. They are letting others sway them into coming into the Jewish laws and rituals, in order to secure their salvation and relationship with God.
8. However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. 9. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? 10. You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain. 12. I beg of you, brethren, become as I [am], for I also [have become] as you [are]. You have done me no wrong; 13. but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; 14. and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus [Himself]. 15. Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness, that if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. 16. Have I therefore become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17. They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out, in order that you may seek them. 18. But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you. 19. My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you-- 20. but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
I'm hoping that you'll not skip over the scripture in these posts. I sometimes get in a hurry and think "Oh, I know that, so I won't bother reading it", but I can assure you that any time WE take the time to read God's Word there will be a blessing; a new thought or revelation, comfort and peace, a desire to seek God, and an energized spirit.
In verse 8 we are reminded that before we knew God that we were slaves; slaves to the world's way of doing things. Lost, confused, missing out on what life is really about. Sometimes, sadly, we don't even KNOW we are slaves. We are locked in a prison of doubt and unbelief and misinformation, because "the world" offers us no truth or life. Coming to know God through Jesus Christ is freeing and liberating; a lifting of burden and darkness that is replaced with joy and blessing and peace.
Verses 9 - 11 Paul is asking a question of the Galatians that goes for all of us Christians, today: Once we have received the freedom that Christ brings, why would we want to turn around and walk back freely into bondage and slavery again? I think guilt and persuasion that we sometimes hear either from the pulpit or from our own thoughts, can make us doubt that we are living a life that is acceptable to God. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we have the right to lead a "sloppy" Christian life. By "sloppy" I mean, lax and worldly, and not a life that glorifies God. I know I've been there before, so it's easy to fall back into old ways of doing things. Mostly I'm talking about the feeling that we aren't "good enough" to please God. God always wants us to be moving forward and growing in our Christian faith. But God is not a hard task master. H e doesn't heap unrealistic burdens on us or pressure. He's a leader, and we are the followers.
28. "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29. "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. 30. "For My yoke is easy, and My load is light."
Not only did the Jews at that time celebrate the feasts and Holidays, and follow the Ten Commandments, but they had tons of little rules and regulations that crippled the Israelite people. You know the phrase, "You can't see the forest for the trees"? Well Jesus was being ignored, because these Judaizers were concentrating on all the minutia of everyday rules and regulations, none of which were God ordained.
I truly enjoy studying and hearing about the "Feasts" that God set forth in the Old Testament. They are a "picture" and prophecy about Jesus and our relationship with Him. They were taught and celebrated so that the Old Covenant Jews could understand and have revelation about what was coming. It's important that we are familiar with these concepts of Old Testament life and worship, yet we don't want to fall into the trap of feeling that we have to follow these "to the letter". That's what the Judiazers were saying to the new Christians. "You're not "good enough" to just believe in Jesus, and have had a salvation experience. You must now "follow" all that the Jews have done". This put an unrealistic "burden" on these new Christians, and in doing so confused their knowledge of God's great love and sacrifice for them. Remember that the Old Testament is still relevant for study today. But also remember that it is "the Old Covenant" and that Jesus came to bring us into the "New Covenant".
In verses 12-18 Paul reminds them of the love and relationship that they had had together when he first came and set up the Church in their area. How they cared for him with great compassion in a time of illness. The new converts and Paul had been close and loving, yet the Judaizers were wanting them to alienate themselves from Paul's teachings. They wanted them to disassociate themselves from Paul and follow them.
Pray for discernment if any pastor, teaching, or denomination tells you that your belonging to this specific church is the only way for you to be saved. So many people have been hurt and abused by "churches" that are finger pointers. So praying for discernment can help us not only stay away from groups that are "fringe" and dangerous, but it can also lead and guide us where we should be. The Holy Spirit is there to lead and guide us into all Truth.
"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
And in verse 19 Paul gives the analogy of "giving birth". Anyone that has had a baby knows the pain of labor. Work and pain, but well worth the outcome. Salvation is immediate, but our being transformed into the image of Jesus can sometimes be a long process. It's not always easy, but so worth the journey.
I've mentioned before that this "expository" type of teaching has been so beneficial to my knowledge and understanding of the book of Galatians. It makes me pray and dig for the meaning of these scriptures. I don't want this to be boring for you, but right now this is just what God has asked me to teach. I have a feeling there are more of you out there than just me this can be enlightening for. Concentrating on one passage or book can give us so much understanding and revelation. Let God lead you to where He wants you to read and study. When you do I can guarantee He has something to say of great value for you.
love in Jesus,