An Enigma

So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? Galatians 4:9 (NLT).

One of my great sadness’s is hearing about a friend who knows and is known by God, yet gets hoodwinked by false teachers and bound by legalism. It’s particularly painful and frustrating when the person used to be a member of a congregation where I was the pastor … making me wonder if the many years of modelling and teaching them the way of Christ was wasted time and effort.

People who have known freedom in Christ and then embrace law-keeping, are an enigma. The word enigma means “mysterious, puzzling, difficult to understand”. Little wonder that Paul, out of his concern for the Galatians who had turned back to law-keeping, says in Galatians 4:20 that he was “perplexed” (NIV), “worried” (GNT), “reduced to … sheer frustration” (MSG), “stand in doubt” (KJV), “puzzled” (CEV).

What do we say to people who exchange the grace of Christ for a pseudo-salvation by their own efforts? How do we counsel people who do not understand what it means to live for Christ by faith alone? In Galatians 4:8-20 we see that Paul didn’t ignore the Galatians or take-offense.  And like Paul, we should love people enough to help direct them in the way of truth. Here are some pointers from Galatians concerning what we should say/do:

  • Identify the problem. Paul told the Galatians that he was “shocked” (CEV), “surprised” (GNT), “astonished” by how they embraced another message (Galatians 1:6).
  • Reveal where the deception is coming from (Galatians 3:1, 4:17, 5:7).
  • Ask questions (Galatians 3:3, 4:9c, 15, 16).
  • Share why you’re personally concerned (Galatians 4:11, 20b).
  • Confront false teachers (Galatians 5:12).

Do you have a friend who is an enigma? Don’t give up on him/her. Continue to unwaveringly share the truth of God’s Word. Keep on proclaiming freedom in Christ by faith alone, and don’t become weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9).

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