Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God — or rather are known by God — how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the Gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of chilbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you! – Galatians 4:8-20

Almost from the beginning there were forces at work within Christianity that would have destroyed or sidetracked the movement. Of these, three created many problems then and have continued to reappear in other forms even today. The three aberrations are contrasted to true Christianity.

  • JUDIAIZED CHRISTIANITY

Their Definition Of A Christian: Christians are Jews who have recognized Jesus as the promised Savior. Therefore, any Gentile desiring to become a Christian must first become a Jew.

Their Genuine Concern: Having a high regard for the Scriptures and God’s choice of Jews as his people, they did not want to see God’s commands overlooked or broken.

The Danger: Tends to add human traditions and standards to God’s law. Also subtracts from the Scriptures God’s clear concern for all nations.

Application Question: Do you appreciate God’s choice of a unique people through whom He offered forgiveness and eternal life to all peoples?

  • LEGALIZED CHRISTIANITY

Their Definition Of A Christian: Christians are those who live by a long list of “don’ts”. God’s favor is earned by good behavior.

Their Genuine Concern: Recognized that real change brought about by God should lead to changes in behavior.

The Danger: Tends to make God’s love something to earn rather than to accept freely. Would reduce Christianity to a set of impossible rules and transform the Good News into bad news.

Application Question: As important as change in action is, can you see that God may be desiring different changes in you than in others?

  • LAWLESS CHRISTIANITY

Their Definition Of A Christian: Christians live above the law. They need no guidelines. God’s Word is not as important as our personal sense of God’s guidance.

Their Genuine Concern: Recognized that forgiveness from god cannot be based on our ability to live up to his perfect standards. It must be received by faith as a gift made possible by Christ’s death on the cross.

The Danger: Forgets that Christians are still human and fail consistently when trying to live only by what they “feel” God wants.

Application Question: Do you recognize the ongoing need for God’s expressed commands as you live out your gratitude for his great salvation?

  • TRUE CHRISTIANITY

Their Definition Of A Christian: Christians are those who believe inwardly and outwardly that Jesus’ death has allowed God to offer them forgiveness and eternal life as a gift. They have accepted that gift through faith and are seeking to live a life of obedient gratitude for what God has done for them.

Their Genuine Concern:
Christianity is both private and public, with heart-belief and mouth-confession. Our relationship to God and the power he provides result in obedience. Having received forgiveness and eternal life, we are now daily challenged to live that life with his help.

The Danger: Avoids the above dangers.

Application Question: How would those closest to you describe your Christianity? Do they think you live so that God will accept you, or do they know that you live because God has accepted you in Christ?

[taken from the Life Application Study Bible]

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