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Read Introduction to Galatians

 

“Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.”

 

Indeed I, Paul,

Paul asserts his apostolic authority on the issue of trying to gain God’s approbation by works or merit versus Christ gaining the merit for us. He said in effect, “Take note of what I am about to tell you regarding works righteousness and how it stands opposed to grace Christ provided on your behalf.”

say to you that if you become circumcised,

Circumcision was a Jewish ceremony of cutting off the foreskin of a male child to initiate him into Judaism. It was a sign of God’s covenant relationship with His people (Genesis 17:11,14). The issue is not circumcision itself but circumcision as a religious method to gain God’s favor. It is not a factor in salvation or sanctification.

Christ will profit you nothing.

The word “profit” conveys the ideas of assisting, being useful, or being advantageous. We have no advantage in Christ if we do all the work. Seeking God’s acceptance by merit violates Christ’s person and work. The sacrifice of Christ is no advantage to us if we use religious ceremony as our basis for approaching God.

Principle:

Any supplement to Christ supplants Christ.

Application:

Only by mutually exclusive trust in the finished work of Jesus can a person become a believer or live the Christian life. We must choose one or the other. We cannot have both Christ and works. When we put ourselves under legalism as a system, we deprive ourselves of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We also supplant our work for Christ’s work on the cross.

“I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21).

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