In today’s text, we see just how much the Apostle Paul detested the teaching of the Jewish legalists who taught that you had to follow the law of Moses in order to be saved. In essence, they were teaching that you had to become a Jew before you could become a Christian. And because of this, they placed a great emphasis upon being circumcised. So much so, that this group was called, “Those of the circumcision” (Galatians 2:12).
Read Paul’s exhortation to the Galatian Christians in this regard:
You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place. And please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect. But the one who is upsetting you, whoever he is, will bear the divine judgment. As for the rumor that I continue to preach the ways of circumcision (as I did in those pre-Damascus Road days), that is absurd. Why would I still be persecuted, then? If I were preaching that old message, no one would be offended if I mentioned the Cross now and then—it would be so watered-down it wouldn’t matter one way or the other. Why don’t these agitators, obsessive as they are about circumcision, go all the way and castrate themselves! It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom.Galatians 5:7-14 (MSG)
Religious legalism takes many forms today. People are legalists when they insist you must worship on a certain day or be baptized by a certain church or follow a certain prophet rather than simply following Christ.
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God madehim who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20, 21, NIV.