Misery Loves Company

As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.—Galatians 6:12 (NKJV)

Paul had a very deliberate purpose behind writing the Book of Galatians. A problem had arisen in the newly-planted churches in the region of Galatia (modern-day Turkey). It was a spiritual problem, and was therefore a serious problem.

In Paul’s absence, false teachers (legalists) had descended and began leading the Galatian Christians down a path of legalism. They were teaching that faith in Jesus was not enough to be right with God, but they also had to follow the commandments given to Israel under the Law of Moses. The aim of Paul’s letter was to expose the error in all of this and call the Galatians back to the truth that people are made right with God through faith in Christ . . . period!

Paul dramatically calls out these false teachers as he begins to close his letter. There was a particular command that had become a “make or break” issue on keeping the law . . . circumcision. A person’s position on circumcision really told you everything about where they stood in relation to the law, which is why these false teachers wanted to hold the Galatians accountable to this practice.

Understand . . . a lot of God-fearing Galatians were being guilted into going through with this practice by these legalists. But watch how Paul cuts through this guilt: “For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh” (Galatians 6:13 NKJV).

Translation: “Galatians, don’t let these people guilt trip you on this. They don’t even obey all the standards they’re holding you to! Nor do they really care about you. To them, you’re just a notch on their belts!” 

What a picture Paul paints here! These legalists were hypocrites whose beliefs rejected God’s grace and the freedom it gives. As a result, their souls were miserable, and in keeping with the adage that “misery loves company,” they wanted to add as many Galatians as possible to their wretched ranks. Fortunately, the truth of God’s grace was powerful enough to reframe reality for the Galatians.

The same thing can happen today. False teachings are constantly swirling around the Church, and many innocent Christians are guilted into thinking and doing things that are simply false. But these false winds can be detected by comparing them to the gospel of God’s grace. If someone adds to that, it’s a company we are not to keep.

DIG: What was the problem in Galatia?

DISCOVER: Why were the legalists trying to get the Galatians to be circumcised? What can you learn from what happened in Galatia?

DO: Pray and ask the Lord to see if there is any wind of false doctrine that has invaded your thinking.