When You're Forced To Comply
But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in — who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery — to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. — Galatians 2:3-5
For those that don't know Paul very well, he had two very well-known proteges. One was Timothy and the other was Titus. Both at some point worked and traveled with Paul in ministry. Now here is the nuance, he required Timothy to be circumcised before he traveled with him, but Titus he didn't. And he required this of Timothy because he was half-Jewish and half-Greek to avoid unnecessary issues since it should have been done when he was a child. But this was not the case with Titus. He stood his ground on this requirement with him because was a Greek and not a Jew.
But I want to note the tone here because Paul makes five rather strong indictments here:
- "[Titus] was not forced to be circumcised...
- "Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in...
- "To spy out our freedom...
- "That they might bring us into slavery...
- "We did not yield in submission...
Keep in mind these are indictments against religious people in the church. And it's some strong language. Paul describes them as religious fakes, undercover spies, and oppressive masters that have intentionally designed, implemented, and enforced rules over and above the gospel. And he calls them out because he cares about the freedom of the truth.
I think the church will always battle issues like this because sin is insidious. Even well-meaning Christian people can get drawn into sinful patterns. And the sinful patterns of righteous people are elusive and sometimes hard to initially see. Inside the walls of the church, we will pass over the unspoken rules and spoken methodology weighed upon us and others. Initially, we accept it as good. We believe they are an appropriate means of enforcing discipline or casting vision until we discover that over time they end up constricting our freedom in Christ. They are like a noose around the neck that gets tighter over time. Insiders refer to it as "The First Church Way." And we blindly follow assuming our leaders know what's best for us. Yet over time, we discover that "The First Church Way" takes precedence over Jesus's way, and then you no longer hear Jesus's name only a church name. I have seen it happen time and time again.
I think Paul understood the insidious nature of this sin. Here's why. He was a legalist who was guilty of doing exactly the same. But God revealed to him the gospel of grace and invited him to be the spokesperson for his grace. So in places where the gospel was diluted by religious fakes, undercover spies, and oppressive masters he spoke up because he wanted people to know the gospel of grace — not some counterfeit gospel that looked like the gospel but was no gospel at all.
ASK THIS: Is there a place in your life or in your church where you feel forced to comply that directly opposes the gospel of grace?
DO THIS: Share as you feel led below.
PRAY THIS: God, give me eyes to see how forced compliance becomes legalism that robs the truth of your grace.
PLAY THIS: Gospel of Grace.
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Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.