Most Bible scholars believe that Apostle Paul was a forceful personality, going by some of his words and deeds in the book of Acts, and in some of the epistles he wrote to the early churches. The epistle to the church in Galatia is a prime example of Apostle Paul in his more forceful elements.
The nascent years of the “Early Church” were associated with a great number of heresies and strange doctrines. One of such was the doctrine which claimed that Circumcision was a prerequisite for total salvation, thus casting doubt on the salvation of gentiles who had come to believe the Gospel, but were yet to be circumcised.
In his letter to the Galatians Apostle Paul made short work of the circumcision debate which was threatening to spoil the good work that God was doing in the Galatian church.
He established that God called Abraham into a covenant with Him before Abraham began the practice of circumcision. The circumcision of Abraham, as most of us now know, was a foreshadowing of the work God intended to do on the hearts, and in the daily living of those who eventually become saved by Faith.
Essentially, it was a foretelling of how God would claim us as His own and set us apart from the rest of the world, by changing us from the inside out.
“Circumcision before salvation” is no longer a controversy (and thankfully so! Imagine how difficult it would be to convince a grown male to come to the faith if he had to go through the pain of being cut first). However, there is still that tendency in the hearts of a number of believers to fall into that pattern of thinking that Apostle Paul tagged as foolish.
Looking at the Galatian problem of circumcision, it is probable that one of the things that drove them in the direction of circumcision was a need to validate their salavtion. And it is that trap of “the need to validate salvation” by various forms of good (or “strenous”) works that some believers tend to fall into.
Apostle Paul addressing this issue asked a number of questions that somehow answered the question of the need to validate salvation.
Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?Galatians 3:2-3
Dear Believer, rest. The work of perfection does not belong to you, and you do not need to validate your salvation. The Holy Spirit in us is the validation of our salvation, and He does the Good Works.
When we give the Holy Spirit space for expression, we see these good works in action. We see the Fruit of the Spirit in all of its wonder. We find ourselves doing the will of God not because we are uncertain of our salvation and do not want God changing His mind about us- but because we know we are saved, and the Spirit within enables us to do these good works.
Dear Believer, rest.