From Paul’s letter to the Galatians we read,
- “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you . . . This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh.” (Galatians 3:1-3 – NASB)
Okay! The believers at Galatia had “begun by the Spirit.” They had been established as a body of believers in Christ by hearing the gospel of God and turning by faith to Jesus as the Christ, the Lord, the Savior. They were now numbered with the redeemed of God. The apostle Paul had labored among them with the message of God’s grace in Christ and then moved on in his missionary efforts.
Later, word arrived to Paul that there was trouble in Galatia, and under great concern for the gospel of God and with great love and concern for the believers there, he penned this Galatian epistle. Note his direct approach to them,
- “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?”
This stern language sometimes catches us off guard, does it not? Wow, he called them “foolish!” And brethren, rightfully so! What had been committed to these believers, what they had heard from the apostle, was that a man is saved by “faith” in Christ alone, not “by the works of the Law.” They received “the Spirit . . . by hearing with faith.” They were embracing another message and they were being “foolish.” The danger of all of this is that if the church does proclaim that “you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law” they would be proclaiming a false gospel. A gospel of works and not grace and faith. A gospel message that if embraced cannot produce true saving faith.
Someone “has bewitched” them! The word speaks of being “fascinated by false representations” (Strong), “to carry someone along in a misleading way.” They were being “foolish,” they were being “bewitched.” They were becoming a body of believers who were in danger of spreading a false gospel, and that is a most serious matter!
Who had caused this folly? How had it taken seed and was now in need of a strong rebuke? As the old western movie so often questioned, “Who were those guys?”
The apostle Paul knew who they were and he pointed them out in the second chapter of his letter,
- “But it was because of the false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us under bondage.” (Galatians 2:4 – NASB)
Who were those guys? They were the Jews who followed Paul around and at his leaving sought to enter into a congregation of believers and portray themselves as “brethren.” Then, when received in, they would begin to say that salvation could only be attained “by the works of the Law” plus whatever else; in this case the “whatever else” was Christ. And by this deceptive infiltration the “Law” keepers “bewitched” the believers at Galatia. They were characterized by Paul as “false brethren.” These plagued the apostle’s ministry at every turn (cf. II Corinthians 11:26), servants of Satan who with persuasive language sought “to bring” the Galatian believers “under bondage.”
Take note brethren! The message is repeated time after time in the New Testament letters to the churches. May we not be found to be “foolish” and have the true message of, faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone according to the Scriptures alone perverted by “false brethren” who seek to “bewitch” us, who seek to bring “us under bondage,” who seek to undermine the “liberty we have in Christ Jesus.”
Have a good day . . . and be aware that we can be foolish, we can be bewitched. Be aware and be constantly on the alert, equipping yourself and other believers not to be bewitched by false brethren.
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