The primary distinction between “Galatianized” Christianity and the truth of justification by faith lies in the emphasis on relying solely on the righteousness of Christ. This reliance is not limited to the assurance of eternal life after death; it also encompasses experiencing peace with God, recognizing one’s blessedness, and delighting in the presence of the Holy Spirit. In contrast, Galatianized Christianity places its confidence in legalistic righteousness as the basis for standing before God and endeavors to achieve spiritual perfection through adherence to the law. Galatians 2:16 articulates this contrast, stating, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”
Examples of “Galatianized” Christianity
Two examples of “Galatianized” Christianity are tithing and being a disciple in the sense of the synoptic Gospels.
The tithe is associated with the carrot and the stick, “if you do it, you’ll be blessed, if you don’t you’ll be cursed,” misusing Malachai 3. While the curse is not often explicitly expressed, its implied by saying that if you do this, you will be blesssed, inferring that if you do not, you will not be blessed. This makes blessing a matter of works righteousness, and seeks to merit what God gives freely to His children because of faith. He provides our needs, and we are not to worry about what we shall eat, or clothe ourselves with. Having food and clothing, we are to be content. (Matthew 6:25-34) The tithe, along with other forms of works rightoeusness, makes godliness a “means of gain”. But Godliness is great gain if it is accompanied with contentment. (1 Timothy 6:6). When we give, it is “freely and without compulsion” from a cheerful heart, with no reference to a “Carrot and stick” for motivatoin (we are not motviated by fear of punishemnt, nor are we motivated out of a concern that we need God to open windows or heaven to pour out blessings, as we are already blessed with everything in Christ.!)
Discipleship in the synotpic gospels was an adversary, and was presented as such. Jesus compared it in Luke to a king having 10,000 armies being approached by an adversarial king with 20,000 armies. The wise person should count the cost and realize that he had better pursue terms of peace, because he cannot meet this adversary, with the resources he has. (Luke 14:31-32) In fact the goal of the discipleship in the synoptic Gospels was to show the witnesses of Jesus that they must deny all their resources and anything they thought would help them to be His follower, because matching Him was impossible. (Luke 14:33) Now, there is a new discipleship in resurrection, spoken of in John 15, which is “abide in Me and I in You.” Now that He is risen we are in Him and He is in us, and He is the matchless life within us. (John 15:4-5) After the book of Acts, we no longer see the word “disciple”, but we do see the word “believer” and “member.” By faith, we have become members of Christ, bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh. Wherever He is, we are. Wherever we are, He is. Praise the Lord. (Ephesians 5:30; 1 Corinthians 6:17) Galatians 3:10 states, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.'” This means that if we try to follow the law for justification, we are under a curse. Being a disciple is also a good if we learn it’s lesson of total dependence and repudiation of our own righteousness.
It is important to understand the dangers of legalism and the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. Galatians 5:4 states, “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” We must trust in Christ alone for salvation and not put our faith in our own works. This is the true freedom that Christ offers us.