Worthless Religion

A Study of Galatians 1:13-14

For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. [Gal 1:13-14]

A few things to note about this time-past conversation in the Jews’ religion:

  • According to Romans 3:2, unto them (the Jews) were committed the oracles of God.
  • Romans 9:4-5 states seven more things belonging to Israel:
    • The glory
    • The covenants
    • The giving of the Law
    • The service
    • The promises
    • The Fathers
    • Of whom as concerning the flesh, Christ
  • [Exo 19:5-6] Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth [is] mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These [are] the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

This is the only God-given religion that ever existed.  Yet in the passage we are studying, to whom does it belong to?  It is the Jews’ religion!  Jehovah has given it over to them.  It is no longer His.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [thou] that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under [her] wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. [Mat 23:37-38]

It is your house, and it belongs to you, Jerusalem.  It is left to you desolate.  See Leviticus 14:33-45.

Notice now also the fruit that Paul (formerly Saul) bore in his conversation in the Jews’ religion:

  • “I persecuted the church of God and wasted it”
  • “I profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation”
  • “I was more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers”

There is no thought of the LORD here at all.

[The Lord Jesus] answered and said unto [the Pharisees and scribes], Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with [their] lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, [as] the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. [Mar 7:6-9]

Contrast this with the following examples from the opening chapters of Luke:

  • There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron, and her name [was] Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. [Luk 1:5-6]
  • And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name [was] Simeon; and the same man [was] just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. [Luk 2:25]
  • And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she [was] a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served [God] with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. [Luk 2:36-38]

So now we come back to Paul, and we will close this study with other of his own words about his past.  The entire premise of the epistle to the Galatians is the treachery of turning to The Jews’ religion.  The following is how he now considered all of it:

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. [Phl 3:3-11]

If now turning to the Jews’ religion is treachery, think of what it means to turn to any religion.  This includes “the Christian religion”.  The Lord Jesus did not begin a new religion.  He did not expand Judaism to the gentiles.  He came into this world to save sinners.  We can add nothing to the completeness of our salvation.  It is entirely of Him.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [1Co 15:3-4]

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