Paul’s steps were frequently dogged by certain people we refer to as ‘Judaizers’ (2). They were Jewish legalists. They wanted to supplement the simple message of trust in Christ. They said, ‘You need Jesus plus certain other things in order to be saved.’ They were into additives. In particular they said, ‘You need to be circumcised in order to be saved.’ That’s why Paul calls them ‘’those mutilators of the flesh’’. He also pulls no punches, calling them ‘’dogs, those men who do evil’’. Paul was never in doubt that false teaching is dangerous and viciously harms and even destroys people. We must similarly ‘’Watch out’’ for any form of warped teaching that might encroach on the church. We must guard our hearts and minds against any erroneous thinking. Only the truth which set us free will keep us free! ‘’Steer clear of the barking dogs, those religious busybodies, all bark and no bite. All they’re interested in is appearances – knife-happy circumcisers I call them.’’ The Message
True Christianity is so simple (3). It is:
- Spirit–led; and
- Grace-filled. It is ‘’not by works, so that no one can boast’’. (Ephesians 2:9). The gospel of grace tells you that your good deeds can’t get you into heaven and your bad ones won’t keep you out, if you’re trusting Jesus to save you (see also 9). ‘’I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ – God’s ’’ The Message.
A book title proclaims ‘Jesus plus nothing equals everything.’
But at one time Paul was a stranger to grace (4a). He was full of self-confidence before God. However, a meeting with the risen Lord Jesus on the ‘Damascus Road’ was to puncture his pride.
His wonderful story is coming up next
Prayer: Lord, deliver us from a performance based mentality and the pride that goes with it. Help us to feel and know what is so amazing about grace.