Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Freedom #8: From the Error of the Judaizers

Since  the beginning of time there have always been only two religions:  God’s truth as given to us in the Bible and Satan’s lie.  False religion is man’s self-effort to try to be worthy of Heaven through religious ceremony, or through  efforts to be righteous by following the example of Christ or some other religious leader. True religion teaches the righteousness that is imputed to sinners by God’s grace through faith in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on Calvary‘s cross.  Only one who has come as a sinner to Christ and put His faith in Him for salvation can begin the journey of becoming Christ-like.


These two religions are first contrasted for us in Genesis 4 where we read the story of Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve’s first two sons. As you read the story you will see Cain, a farmer, bringing an offering of his produce to God.  Abel, a shepherd, brings a lamb.  God rejects Cain’s offering and accepts Abel’s sacrifice.  Why? 


The need for the blood sacrifice of an innocent lamb to atone for our sins is taught throughout the Old Testament.  When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God slew animals, possibly lambs, as a sacrifice for their sins and clothed them with the skins of the animals. Read this account in Genesis 3.  The truth of the necessity of a blood sacrifice of an innocent lamb was no doubt taught to their children.


Cain in his pride and self-righteousness, saw no need for a lamb.  Abel saw that need and made the sacrifice.  Cain could have traded produce for a lamb from Abel and made the required sacrifice, but he refused. His evil heart led to the murder of his brother, as we learn in Genesis 4 and  I John 3:12.


False religion fosters pride of attainment.  True religion fosters humility and poverty of spirit and a hunger for God’s righteousness, according to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5


According to Hebrews 10:1-10, the Old Testament animal sacrifices in themselves did not take away sin.  They only pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ who would one day come into the world as the Lamb of God who would die for our sins.   So it wasn’t faith in the animal sacrifices themselves, but faith in the coming Saviour, pictured by the animal sacrifices that made people right with God. 


The Old Testament heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11  are a representation of the minority of those Old Testament saints who looked forward to the coming Saviour.   To offer animal sacrifices without faith in the coming Saviour was vain and hypocritical, as God explained through the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 29:13.    Malachi also wrote about the hypocrisy of religious people who went through the motions of the Old Testament ceremonial system with no love for God.


When we get into the New Testament we see the same majority of Israelites following the leadership of the Pharisees who led the people in empty, vain hypocritical religion that rejected Christ.  


But always, down through history in both Old Testament times as well as New Testament times. there has always been a minority remnant of Israelites who trusted and worshipped God. See I Kings 19:1-18 and Romans 11:1-5 concerning this remnant.  Other Old Testament references to this remnant include: Isaiah 1:1-9,  Jeremiah 23:3-6, Ezekiel 6:7-8,  Amos 5:15,  Micah 2:12,  Haggai 1:12-14,  Zechariah 8:9-13, and Malachi 3:16-18.


As we open the New Testament we find a samplings of God’s faithful remnant; including Joseph and Mary,  Zacharias and Elizabeth and their son, John the Baptist. There is Simeon and Anna in the temple,  eleven of Jesus’ disciples,  Mary, Martha and Lazarus and other true followers of Christ.  Then there is the Apostle Paul and  the church continuing down to the present.  Always through history Christ has had His faithful remnant, a small minority of those who trust in Christ alone for salvation,  in contrast to the masses who go down Satan’s broad religious road towards destruction.  Read Jesus’ warning of this in Matthew 7.


The title of this article is “The Error of the Judaizers”.  What’s this about?  The name, Judaizers, is not even found in the Bible.  However, we see them as the chief enemies of the Apostle Paul as he evangelizes and builds churches throughout the known world.


Though you do not read the word Judaizers, you see them described as Paul’s enemies in Galatians 1:6-7,  2:4  3:1  5:1,12  as well as in II Corinthians 11:12-23 and Acts 20:28-31.  In Philippians 3:2 they are designated as “the concision”; that is, those who cut or circumcise, but without faith in Christ.  The Judaizers were those who tried to bring the early Christians back under the bondage of the Old Testament Ceremonial Law.


Prior to the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (Paul), was the chief Judaizer.  He hated Christ and Christians and  was the chief persecutor of the early church.  After his conversion to Christ, those same people came after Paul to try to kill him. They did all they could to try to destroy his credibility and influence, and corrupt the doctrine that he taught, doctrine that he had been given directly by the risen Christ.


Throughout Galatians, as well as in some of Paul’s other Epistles,  he dealt with the Judaizers and their false gospel, which was no gospel at all.  They and their kin have corrupted God’s message and have persecuted God’s messengers since the beginning of time and under different names and  they will continue to perpetrate their evil work until the end of time.


True religion that saves from the penalty and power of sin comes only through faith in the shed blood of Christ on the cross.  This true religion was carried out in the Old Testament through the shedding of the blood of animal sacrifices, a type of the blood that would be shed by Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.


Those sacrifices were made by true Old Testament believers who looked for the coming Saviour.  You can read about their faith in the promised Saviour in Hebrews 11.


False religion, on the other hand, went through the motions of offering animal sacrifices, but there was no faith in the coming Saviour, nor was there any desire for Him nor concern for their sins.  To offer those sacrifices and observe all the ceremonial law with no concern about sin and no desire to be right with God, was sheer hypocrisy.


Paul shares his testimony in many places in Scripture, but perhaps the passage that shows the greatest contrast is in Philippians 3.  In the first six verses Paul describes his heart as a Judaizer before he met Christ and contrasts the difference that Christ made  when he became a Christian in verses 7-14.

  Paul’s ministry was that of evangelizing and teaching God’s Word to the converts and warning them of the dangers of the Judaizers; those going through the formality of Judaism and rejecting faith in Christ as their Saviour and Lord.   

Paul wrote his Epistle to the Galatians in response to the attacks of the Judaizers as they attempted to destroy his influence, corrupt the doctrine he preached, and bring his converts under the bondage of having to observe the ceremonial law of the Old Testament.

  So today a Bible preacher’s responsibility, as found in II Timothy 4:1-5, is to preach the Word, evangelize the lost, build up saints in the Word and warn them of false teachers and their false doctrine.

September 4, 2007 - Posted by | Freedom

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