Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. Galatians 5:2-3 (NIV).
What Paul is talking about here is being led astray. Paul, as a Pharisee who now followed Christ, saw that the commanded rite of circumcision had no value to Christians. Anyone who would willingly submit to it was submitting themselves to Judaism as a whole. In 2000 years, nothing has changed. Indeed, if you decide to observe Islamic rules and laws just to be culturally sensitive, whether you intend to or not, you’re making yourself subject to all Islamic rules and laws. Ditto Jewish law, or Buddhism, Shinto, etc.
Remember years ago when there was a young American who broke the law (vandalism and petty theft) in Singapore and he was sentenced to be caned/whipped for it? The American government lobbied for weeks until, finally, one morning, the police in Singapore stripped and whipped him. His punishment administered, the man left Singapore and returned home.
If you volunteer to go to a foreign country, you’re subject to its laws. Nothing requires you to go; you volunteered. While you’re there, you are subject to the laws there. You’re willingly putting yourself under their control, and what they say is what goes. When the people celebrate, you celebrate with them. When they benefit, you do, too. But if they require something, you’re subject to the requirement. And if you transgress, you get the punishment their law requires.
That’s what Paul was saying. If you submit to Jewish law – and ritual circumcision – then you are subject to ALL that law. It’s as if you’re no longer Christian, no longer under faith in Christ. Why? Because you exchanged faith in Christ for faith in something else. “But I still believe,” you might say. Fair enough, but then you exchanged that belief for belief in something else. You demonstrated chosen unbelief.
Now, extrapolate that into other areas of life and it’s easy to see why Paul was upset about it. We put faith in many things. Our income, our 401K, our families, our jobs, our whatever. If they become what we worship, then Christ has no value for us. We’ve exchanged belief in Him for belief in that something else.
So isn’t it comforting to know the opposite of this? If we put our faith in Christ, then those other things have no meaning, no control over us. Sure, they can influence us here on the Third Rock, but our salvation is sure and our path forward straight. Paul would probably agree.
For further reading: Acts 15:1, Romans 2:25, Hebrews 12:15, 2 Peter 3:17, Galatians 5:4
Lord Jesus, I put all my faith in only You alone. Other things have no meaning.
If you’d like to know more about Practical Proverbials, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information