Judaizers in the Church.
In the time of Paul there was a radical group of those who came into the church and tried to stir up commotion and persuade the gentiles who had received Christ in faith to resort back to obedience to the Law. They were known as Judaizers and they attempted to convince the new Christian converts that Christ was not enough but one must be circumcised as well as obey Jewish laws and tradition on top of faith.
Paul ends up the beginning chapter by saying:
Galatians 1:6-9 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
Very harsh reality awaits those who try to suggest that Christ’s death was not enough. Why is it than James says “faith without works is dead” was he contradicting Paul?
No not at all! When James wrote his letter he was not suggesting works save anyone. He was implying that obedience to God is evidence we know God just as a receipt from the store is evidence the item purchased is actually yours. Through Christ we have received eternal life! Paul goes on to say in chapter 3
Galatians 3:1-5 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain – if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?
“Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” Some translations instead of saying “flesh” say “human effort”
Basically he says in a nut shell (my paraphrased version.)you were saved and received Christ when you believed. Now are you trying to be perfected and sanctified by your own human strength.”
The Message puts it like this:
Galatians 3:2, 5 Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up! Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don’t these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God.
Later on in Galatians 5 Paul makes a contrast between how a Spirit filled Christian looks as opposed to a non believer. As Christians even we dont always live under and in submission the power of the Spirit, but the key characteristics of a Spirit filled life look like this:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Those who truly belong to Jesus have by faith put to death the old life. We received new life the moment we trusted Christ as Lord and Savior. We did not receive Christ in attempts to clean up, remodel, or repair the old sin nature- we put it to death.