I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by 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. (Galatians 1:6-7 NIV)
“Some people” are those who wanted the Galatians to practice Old Testament ceremonial laws as criteria for righteousness. The result was confusion.
Why would people who had received the good news of salvation by grace, through faith, “quickly” revert to a righteousness based on works? Didn’t they know they had been made righteous by the blood of Jesus?
I am certain they did. So why were they so easily misled?
I have some theories, based on my observation of human nature:
1. We are easily led into things that are comfortable. It is comforting to do all of the things we used to do with the same familiar people, in the same familiar places. This is why we enjoy holidays and reunions. Many familiar things are enjoyable. But just because we enjoy something doesn’t mean it is necessary, or binding on others.
2. We are easily led into things that others are doing. We are usually fine on our current path until a good friend says, “Hey, you are missing something over here.” Given a choice between our closest relationships and our commitment to a cause, our relationships often win out.
3. We are easily led into things that build up our ego. I will be very honest with you. I will put up with a lot of pain if it means I am going to be the center of attention. And there are other ways we feed our ego besides being center stage. Works-based salvation, for example, can give us the false impression we are good enough to earn God’s favor.
There were certainly people in Galatia who honestly felt, after second thought, that they needed to follow Old Testament practices for righteousness’ sake. Realize, I am not talking about the moral principles found in the Law, but rather the ceremonial rules and regulations associate with the sacrificial system that existed before the cross. Yet, I suspect, this theological error could have been corrected had it not been for some of the human factors I have mentioned here.
Humans are highly irrational for rational beings. We do what we don’t want to do, because that’s what we decide we want. We go where we don’t want to go because we decide to go there. And we choose what we know we don’t need because we can’t live without it.
These lines of logic sound bizarre, I know, but they make perfect sense to us when we are in the midst of making decisions.
During our study of Galatians, I believe we will learn some lessons about holding our ground in the face of irrationality. But for now, I will simply say if something doesn’t make good sense to us, there is a good chance it is indeed senseless.
Dear God, help me think clearly. In Jesus’ name, Amen.