Sunday, October 2, 2011
“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” (Galatians 6:12 KJV).
The Galatians were pummeled with “another gospel,” a perverted works-religion version of Paul’s Gospel of Grace (Galatians 1:6-9; cf. 2 Corinthians 11:3,4). They had trusted in Jesus Christ and “received [God’s] Spirit” (Galatians 3:2), but Jewish legalists were teaching the Galatians they could not be saved unless they were physically circumcised and kept the Mosaic Law (Acts 15:1-5).
Today, Christendom’s hang-up is not physical circumcision, but rather everything else from Israel’s program—tithing, water baptism, gift of tongues, and Sabbath day keeping. While most church leaders today condemn Galatia for being so deceived, those church leaders are oftentimes equally deceived by denominationalism (church tradition)!
Ever heard of “walking the aisle for Jesus?” Making a “profession of faith” before a church congregation? Being water baptized? “An ‘outpouring’ of the Holy Ghost?” Today’s Scripture exposes these activities for what they really are—“a fair shew in the flesh,” performances that draw attention to and glorify man’s works and boast in what you did (Galatians 6:13). Our performance is NOT the issue.
Christ defined “a fair shew in the flesh” in Matthew 23:5: “But all their works they do for to be seen of men….” Christ is describing the activities of the scribes and Pharisees. They had a nice outward appearance—a nice “shew”—but it was all vain, worthless, faithless religion. Christ continued: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (verse 15).
Like the Pharisees and scribes, many denominational churches just seek membership, not a person’s salvation. As long as the individual walks an aisle, gets water baptized, and gives money, that is good enough. Is it? No. Salvation is not based on what we do for God, but what Jesus Christ did for us.
Beware of the “fair shews in the flesh” and avoid them!