Wednesday after the Tenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Galatians 4:8-20 (NKJV)
4:8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. 9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.
12 Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all. 13 You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. 14 And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. 15 What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?
17 They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them. 18 But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, 20 I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you.
Expecting God to justify sinners by the Mosaic Law is no different than expecting justification by self-chosen works offered to idols. Although the works are different, and even though they are directed toward different gods, both systems embrace “the weak and beggarly elements of the world” which believe that God will regard human works and declare men righteous because of their deeds. The Jews and pagans had this in common: both wanted to be justified by their works.
The Galatians had abandoned “the weak and beggarly elements of the world” when they believed the promise of the Gospel and were justified by God by faith, apart from works of the Law. When the Judaizing false teachers came into town the Galatians quickly went back to the idea that God declares men righteous by man’s works of the Mosaic Law. The false teachers had them submitting to circumcision, the Mosaic dietary laws, and the observance of “days and months and seasons and years” in the hope that God would justify them by these observances.
Paul desired to rescue the Galatians from “the weak and beggarly elements of this world,” the false doctrine that God justifies sinners by their works. Instead of trusting in their own works, Mosaic or man-made, Paul wants Christ to be formed in them, and Christ only dwells in men’s hearts by faith. Paul wants them to turn away from the elements of the world and turn toward Christ, trusting His mercy and merits.
We pray: O God, who declarest Thine almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity, mercifully grant unto us such a measure of Thy grace that we, running the way of Thy commandments, may obtain Thy gracious promises and be made partakers of Thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.