VICTIMS OF LEGAL RELIGIOSITY
In the first century, the Jews viewed religion from the standpoint of the ability of the individual to perform established religious rites in a manner by which one could self-sanctify himself before God. This system of meritorious justification inevitably made an attack against the gospel. There was thus the rise of the judaizing teachers who sought to promote in the church this system of legalistic justification by meritorious works. The evidence of this invasion of heresy was the judaizing teachers’ binding on Christians various statutes of the Sinai law, as well as many of the religious traditions of the Jews.
When Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians, he sternly attacked the theology of the self-sanctifying religious teachers in the church. It must be emphasized again that the sternness of the letter reveals the fact that the Holy Spirit did not view this as a minor threat to the gospel. The nature of the Galatian letter clearly indicates that God was serious about this system of theology that attacked the very foundation of the truth of the gospel.
There were judaizing teachers threatening the Galatian disciples, and thus, the disciples in Galatia were on the verge of a whole scale apostasy from the truth of the gospel. The nature of the Galatian letter, therefore, reveals to us that God will not tolerate today those who marginalize the gospel through the teaching of meritorious self-justification.