Study 56: Gal.6:11-13
The false teachers -one last look
Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with
mine own hand. As many as desire to make a fair shew in
the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest
they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law;
but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in
We are well into that part of Galatians where we
see Paul summarising his message. First it was what we
sow that we shall also reap: that is we either walk in
the Spirit or in the flesh. This is the central theme
of the book. The Key verse, as we have already pointed
out is Gal.2:20
study 15 It is not I,
but Christ. This is the key to Christian living.
Now Paul makes one last
mention of the false teachers, those who were teaching
that adhering to the Jewish law was a necessity for
salvation; but the
responsibility of their falling away was the Galatians'
believers themselves for they walked after the
flesh, and so reaped what they sowed. When false
teaching come across our paths we always have a choice:
to go along with it or resist. Chapter 2 of Galatians
shows what choices some of the apostles made, and how
the situation was rectified. But a choice we do have.
The question is which way will we take?
These false teachers were the Judaizers who
insisted on circumcision as necessary for salvation.
as noted in the previous studies of 9, 10, 16 & 32. We
concluded that such people brought bondage, not liberty
in Christ; they bring compulsion, confusion and
additions to the plain revelation of Scripture; they
promise much but add nothing of worth to a
person's walk with Jesus. They place some obstacle in
the believer's path, and whatever it may be it tempts the
believer to be like Peter when walking on water: he
takes his eyes of Jesus and sinks into the flesh.
This then ends in the harvest of disobedience and
living a life in the flesh as opposed to that of the Spirit.
In this and the next study we shall conclude our
look at these false brethren.
make a show in the flesh.
The work of God is in
the inward heart of men and women. No amount of outward
ceremony and religious workings can save a person. Yet
false teachers want an outward show. This was purely to
show off, to have the eyes of others on them, Jesus
had a lot to say about such things.
Therefore when thou doest thine
alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as
the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the
streets, that they may have glory of men.
Verily I say unto you, They have their
when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the
hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing
in the synagogues and in the corners of the
streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I
say unto you, They have their reward........................Moreover
when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a
sad countenance: for they disfigure their
faces, that they may appear unto men to fast.
Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But all their works they do for
to be seen
of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and
enlarge the borders of their
garments...................... Even so
ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men,
but within ye are full of hypocrisy and
And he said unto them,
are they which justify yourselves before men;
but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is
highly esteemed among men is abomination in the
sight of God.
We see the Lord's judgment on the religious leaders
of the day, they were only interested in being seen of
men, to receive the praises of men rather than God. It
is not beyond the realms possibility that some of those
leaders, of whom Jesus spoke, would have been involved
in the false teaching to the Galatians. But even if
not, then the same spirit is present. Those religious
leaders, if truly saved in the first place, had
fallen back into the flesh.
Here Paul is saying
that they were glorying in the Galatian believers. It
as almost as if they were more concerned with a
following than with following God themselves.
Here is a dire warning then, we are not to make
disciples of ourselves or a cause, nor are we to be
disciples of any man or cause; rather we are follow
Christ, and encourage others to follow Christ alone.
The Holy Spirit is given to point men and women to
Christ ( Jn.16:8-14
) so if we are walking in the Spirit we
'd be doing the same.
In effect these false teachers were taking the
rightful place of Christ in peoples' lives. Let us
remember that the Christian life is : Christ in us the
hope of glory. (Col. 1:27).
We are to be conformed to the image of Jesus (Rom.8:29-30).
This being God's purpose for us we should resist
attempts by anyone to make us conform to their image
of how they think the Christian life should be, and we
should definitely not make people follow us and become
an image of us. Instead we should be pointing men and
women to Jesus.
2. They constrain you
The false teachers insisted on the gentile
believers being circumcised.
(Acts 15:1), thus they were
imposing a requirement that scripture did no even
mention with regard to salvation. In doing so these
people were denying the once and for all sufficient
work of Christ in this regards. And here Paul gives us
their motivation: to avoid suffering for the sake of
In constraining others, their
concern is not for the followers but for
themselves. They are doing all that is possible to save
themselves from the persecution of being identified
with Christ and His cause. The cross divides: to those
who believe it is the power of God, for the Jews, a
stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness.(
I Cor. 1:22-24).
Here the religious leaders of the day wanted a sign,
namely circumcision in the flesh of their followers, not
realising the true circumcision is not made with hands
The cross is God's instrument of circumcision, for it
the heart that has to be dealt with and not the outward
Thus the false religious teachers,
having rejected God's way, have gone back to the
outward. They did not want to be identified with
Christ and the narrow way of which He spoke whilst on
the earth. The cross indeed had become a stumbling
block to them. For the Cross of Christ is the only way
which God has appointed. The cross destroys all efforts
of the flesh. It is therefore clear that anything that reverts
back to the flesh is contrary to the Gospel of
So these false teachers, not
willing to submit to the cross of Christ, revert to the
only other thing they can have, the outwards trappings
of a religion; in doing so they require others do the
same. They constrain others, lest they should suffer
3. Our choice
do then if we are faced with such false teachers? Do we
allow them to have power over us, or do we remain
loyal to Christ? As we saw with Peter even apostles can
fall, but praise God that restoration is also possible.
We are promised that we will not be tempted above that
we can bare.( I Cor. 10:
13 ) but with it there will be a
way of escape. Let us keep close to Jesus, walk in the
Spirit, embrace His cross and die daily so that we may
live to His glory alone.