“And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.”
And I testify
Paul lodges a strong protest against the practice of circumcision by throwing his personal authority behind his affirmation. He makes the statement he is about to make with the authority of an apostle.
Paul does not mind repeating himself. He formerly drilled into the heads of the Galatians the principle of grace and the evil of legalism, and he now does it again. Leaders must repeat themselves if they are going to make their point so that their people lodge the principle in their minds.
to every man who becomes circumcised
“Every man” means that Paul refers to a universal principle. This applies to any man, anywhere, Jew or Gentile. Paul not only testifies to the Galatians but also against legalism to “every man” as a method for salvation or sanctification.
that he is a debtor to
A “debtor” is someone under an obligation. A person under the law is bound to the law. Christ assumed this obligation for us. Since Christ died for our sins, we have no obligation to keep before God. Christians are free from the law’s condemnation (Romans 8:1-4), so they do not have to measure up to the law on their own. This frees them from the obligation to keep the law for justification or sanctification.
keep the whole law
If Christians choose to operate under the law, they become its debtors, required to keep the “whole law.” The law represents the character of God, which is perfect. If we try to measure up to the law, we are, in effect, trying to measure up to the holiness of God in our own strength. The law is one unit, as God’s character is one.
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them'” (Galatians 3:10).
“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).
If we use the law as a method of salvation or sanctification, it will put us so deep in debt that we will not recover until we reject it as a system to please God.
To offend at one point of the law is to violate the whole law. Since God is 100 percent righteous, anyone who fellowships with Him must be 100 percent righteous. If we attempt to keep the law by righteousness, then we have to measure up to 100 percent righteousness – we must keep the “whole law.”
We cannot observe part of the law and then think that God will accept us. No one can keep the law perfectly. No quantity of good deeds makes up for the slightest misdeed. If the Internal Revenue Service nails us for misstating our taxes, they will not listen to an argument that we love our kids! If we throw a rock through one part of a sheet of glass, it breaks the whole sheet of glass. If we break the law at one point, we break it at every point.