Double, Double Toil and Trouble

  • By Pastor Boffey
  • on Saturday, October 31, 2015
Galatians 1:6-7 (6) I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: (7) Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. The churches of Galatia had been founded upon the doctrine of salvation by grace through the justifying faith of Jesus Christ. But it is evident that they had in short order abandoned their original faith, soon removed unto another gospel (GAL 1:6) which had been foisted upon them by heretics that had come along afterwards. They had been subverted (overthrown) to accept circumcision and law-works as necessary conditions for eternal justification and so had “...fallen from grace” (GAL 5:4), not from eternal life (for that is secured in Christ's blood and promise, JOH 6:39; JOH 10:27-29 but from belief in grace. The false teachers could not accept that the work or toil of Christ was sufficient to save the elect---they held that the sinner must toil also. This is double toil and trouble indeed. The false teachers had even traded upon Paul's good name in advancing their error (GAL 5:11) as if he taught such folly. It is evident from GAL 6:12-13 that these false teachers who were affirming circumcision for justification were professing Christians “of the circumcision” who were being persecuted by their unconverted Jewish countrymen for having fellowship with uncircumcised Gentiles. So instead of suffering reproach for the sake of the Messiah Who by His cross had broken down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile (EPH 2:14), they chose to Judaize the Gentile believers to take away the offense of the cross. Paul had already been through this mill in dealing with troubling Judaizers who were imposing Jewish circumcision and Jewish law upon Gentile believers. While Paul was at Antioch, “...certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved” (ACT 15:1). Paul and Barnabas took great issue with this and then went to the Jerusalem church on a fact-finding mission (ACT 15:1-4), where it was discovered that the source of this heresy was not the apostles and elders but “...certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed...” (ACT 15:5). They were a corrupt element within the church who were advancing their own agenda under the noses of the church leadership and still did so after the Jerusalem elders had denounced their heresy (ACT 15:24 c/w GAL 2:1-12). They were so compelling that even Peter and Barnabas were corrupted by them (GAL 2:11-13). It is harmful enough when external forces trouble the church and lead believers astray but it is much worse when the troublers are from within its ranks, operating as a veritable Trojan horse, a Fifth Column misrepresenting the position of the church and undermining the faith of saints under a cloak of respectability. Few things can destroy a church quicker than an enclave of Pharisees within it that are big on the praise of men (JOH 5:44; JOH 12:43), outward piety (MAT 23:23) and confidence in the flesh (PHIL 3:2-3) but small on humility, sincerity and true grace. It is interesting that the Judaizers who had been at Antioch and these Judaizers who had come to Galatia are identified as troublers of the church (ACT 15:24; GAL 1:7). See also GAL 5:10-12 for similar charges. “Troubler” was the term used to mark a notable character in early Jewish history: a man named Achan (the troubler of Israel, 1CH 2:7), an O.T. church member whose sin provoked God to threaten to separate from Israel (JOS 7:10-13; JOS 7:24-25). But Achan not only troubled Israel; he troubled his own household also according to JOS 7:25, for Israel stoned not only Achan, but “...stoned THEM with stones.” If his children (JOS 7:24) were included in the judgment (and JOS 22:20 says he “...perished not alone in his iniquity”), it would be reasonable to conclude that they were complicit in the crime lest Joshua be guilty of violating the rule of DEU 24:16 which forbade children being put to death for a parent's sin (and no such censure of Joshua is found). It is possible that the “them” that were stoned and burned were the beasts mentioned in JOS 7:24 and the destruction of beasts as part of a general judgment was Israel's duty from time to time (e.g. 1SAM 15:1-3). At any rate, the heretical Pharisees who centuries later were troublers of the churches of Galatia were in very bad company and all such troublers should be marked by the house of God as certainly as was Achan: “...mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them” (ROM 16:17). Woe unto those who trouble their own house, their own church, with divisive doctrines because heretics “...shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (GAL 5:19-21). These troublers rather inherit the wind (PRO 11:29) and it will not be the blessed wind of the Holy Spirit (JOH 3:8; ACT 2:2) Whom they have grieved and quenched by their subversive folly. Perhaps Paul had Achan's fate in mind when he went to say to the Galatians, “...but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosever he be...I would they were even cut off which trouble you” (GAL 5:10-12). The influences of divisive, troubling Pharisees within the camp of the saints can be very powerful for they have a cloak of respectability which can catch the undiscerning saint unawares and bring him under a virtual spell. The informed reader will note that the title of today's meditation is actually a line from Shakespeare's Macbeth where three witches are cooking up a spell, a “charm of powerful trouble...” Let not Paul's choice of words to the corrupted Galatians escape us: “O Foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you...? (GAL 3:1).”

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