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Tag Archives: the Judaizers

Look Out for the Dogs

When I was in college, a dog attacked a child in our neighbor. While this girl survived, her face was scarred for life. Before this incident, this dog never had any issues with aggression. Yet, something happened, triggering this violent outburst. Perhaps, similar accounts in the first century inspired the apostle Paul to warn, “look out for the dogs.” The dogs are directed at a specific religious sect known as the Judaizers.

Look out for those dogs [Judaizers, legalists], look out for those mischief-makers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we [Christians] are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit and by the Spirit of God and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances—Philippians 3:3-2.

This religious group infiltrated the leadership within the Church of Galatia. Unable to let go of their Jewish traditions, these zealots began to added stipulations to salvation. Forcing Gentile believers to be circumcised, the Judaizers broke Moses’ command in Deuteronomy 4:2. Therefore, when Paul compares these religious leaders to dogs, he is suggesting that they are ripping apart God’s commands.

O you poor and silly and thoughtless and unreflecting and senseless Galatians! Who has fascinated or bewitched or cast a spell over you, unto whom—right before your very eyes—Jesus Christ (the Messiah) was openly and graphically set forth and portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the [Holy] Spirit as the result of obeying the Law and doing its works, or was it by hearing [the message of the Gospel] and believing [it]? [Was it from observing a law of rituals or from a message of faith?] Are you so foolish and so senseless and so silly? Having begun [your new life spiritually] with the [Holy] Spirit, are you now reaching perfection [by dependence] on the flesh, Galatians 3:1-3.

In the passage above, Paul compares the Judaizers to practicing witches. This expression refers to the legalism and rituals that the Judaizers adhered to and practiced. While writing to the Church at Thessalonica, Paul recalls a visit to Berea, impressed by their careful consideration of new teachings. These noble leaders were a model for other churches to emulate, Acts 17:11. As you encounter similar legalism today, remember the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 so that you won’t be deceived by the next pack of dogs that comes along to invoke a power grab in your church.

by Jay Mankus

Carry the Load

Carrying one another’s burdens was central to the first century church, Acts 2:44-47. Unlike the large cathedrals and megachurches of today, there wasn’t the financial resources available at this time. Thus, homes, existing synagogues, and or open areas near bodies of water were used as places of worship. Whenever a need arose within a body of believers, sacrifices were made so that no one went hungry or without a place to call home.

Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also. Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it], Galatians 6:1-2.

While home churches and small groups still meet today, poverty is rampant across the country and throughout the world. At some point in the past 2000 years, Christian congregations have forgotten the apostles teaching. Instead of carrying the load of burdens in neighborhoods and communities, many families have gone their own separate ways. Similar to the ways of the Old Testament, American Christians appear to be doing what’s right in their own eyes, Judges 21:25, without carrying the burdens of others.

For if any person thinks himself to be somebody [too important to condescend to shoulder another’s load] when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceives and deludes and cheats himself. But let every person carefully scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own work. He can then have the personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable [in itself alone] without [resorting to] boastful comparison with his neighbor. For every person will have to bear (be equal to understanding and calmly receive) his own [little] load [of oppressive faults], Galatians 6:3-5.

Perhaps the apostle Paul witnessed identical warning signs in the Church at Galatia. At the heart of this problem was a superiority complex passed on by a religious sect known as the Judaizers. Rather than loving neighbors as yourself, the Judaizers forced Gentile Christians to become circumcised. Whenever churches deviate from the apostles teaching, important needs go unrecognized or met. Therefore, if you want to make a difference, start carrying the load of burdens from other believers today, Philippians 2:15-16.

by Jay Mankus

Taking Off the Training Wheels

The first bicycle was invented by German Baron Karl von Drais in 1817. The British developed training wheels years later to stabilize the back wheel of a bicycle. Training wheels are an additional wheel or wheels mounted parallel to the rear wheel of a bicycle that assist learners until they have developed a usable sense of balance on their bicycle. In a first century letter to the Church at Galatia, the apostle Paul refers to spiritual training wheels.

Now before the faith came, we were perpetually guarded under the Law, kept in custody in preparation for the faith that was destined to be revealed (unveiled, disclosed), 24 So that the Law served [to us Jews] as our trainer [our guardian, our guide to Christ, to lead us] until Christ [came], that we might be justified (declared righteous, put in right standing with God) by and through faith, Galatians 3:23-24.

Due to legalism that infiltrated this church via a religious sect known as the Judaizers, Paul addresses the role that the Jewish law should play in Christianity. While Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as a counselor, Paul compares the Torah to a personal trainer. The Old Testament was designed as a guardian, to guide followers of God to Christ. While the Judaizers tried the overemphasize the Law, Paul reminds new converts to Jesus that individuals are justified by faith, not works.

But now that the faith has come, we are no longer under a trainer (the guardian of our childhood), Galatians 3:25.

In the passage above, Paul is calling first century Christians to take off their training wheels. This is accomplishing through living by faith. Following a set of rules is good for training, but faith is designed to live out what you believe. Just as a young child develops enough confidence to ride their bike without training wheels, mature Christians need to start applying all that they have learned, Joshua 1:8. Therefore, if you want to make a difference in 2021, let faith be your guide.

by Jay Mankus

Acts that Men Hide

One who aids or accompanies someone in nefarious actions is considered a partner in crime. Another idiom uses the expression, “it takes two to tango” based upon the 1952 song by Al Hoffman and Dick Manning. Meanwhile, Theodore Edward Hook first used the saying “thick as thieves” in his 1833 book The Parson’s Daughter. Each of these slang terms suggest that when confronted, guilty parties will hide their sinful acts due to shame.

We have renounced disgraceful ways (secret thoughts, feelings, desires and underhandedness, the methods and arts that men hide through shame); we refuse to deal craftily (to practice trickery and cunning) or to adulterate or handle dishonestly the Word of God, but we state the truth openly (clearly and candidly). And so we commend ourselves in the sight and presence of God to every man’s conscience, 2 Corinthians 4:2.

During a visit to the region of Galatia, the apostle Paul was made aware of a religious sect that infiltrated the church. Perhaps unwilling to let go of their Jewish heritage, the Judaizers began to add requirements to salvation. The art of deceit involves persuasion, using former practices to form new beliefs. According to Galatians 2:11-13, the Judaizers were so convincing that even Barnabas and Peter were led astray.

You were running the race nobly. Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the Truth? This [evil] persuasion is not from Him Who called you [Who invited you to freedom in Christ]. A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump [it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church], Galatians 5:7-9.

Frustrated by this charade, Paul wanted to know why members of the Church at Galatia began to withdraw from Gentiles. This form of legalism was poisoning the message of the gospel. Likely referencing Deuteronomy 4:2, Judaizers added and subtracted from the apostles teaching. When caught in the act of wrong doing, most try to hide, following in the footsteps of Adam and Eve, Genesis 3:7-8. If you want to avoid a similar fate, look for the way out of temptation, 1 Corinthians 10:13 to find victory; not defeat.

by Jay Mankus

On My Way

If you are searching for someone to follow, you’ll probably witness a fair share of blaming others, passing the buck and victimology. If you feel trapped by a negative environment, you might be tempted to sit tight, unsure of where to go and what to do. However, at some point you have to take a leap of faith. As you endure this internal tug of war, what is keeping you from going on your way?

O you poor and silly and thoughtless and unreflecting and senseless Galatians! Who has fascinated or bewitched or cast a spell over you, unto whom—right before your very eyes—Jesus Christ (the Messiah) was openly and graphically set forth and portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the [Holy] Spirit as the result of obeying the Law and doing its works, or was it by hearing [the message of the Gospel] and believing [it]? [Was it from observing a law of rituals or from a message of faith?] – Galatians 3:1-2

During the first century, the apostle Paul visited the region of Galatia. The four cities which comprised this church are Antioch (near Pisidia), Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. Apparently, a religious sect arose from Galatia and infiltrated this church. Thus, Paul writes a letter inquiring about the Judaizers who added Jewish practices to salvation. A modern comparison would be if you are not baptized in a specific way, you’re not really saved. Paul wants to get these believers back on track so that they can go in the way where God desires.

You were running the race nobly. Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the Truth? This [evil] persuasion is not from Him Who called you [Who invited you to freedom in Christ]. A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump [it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church], Galatians 5:7-9.

While most people who have attended church at some point in life have heard of the sinful nature, few know the inspiration behind Paul’s words in Galatians 5:16-25. When legalism, peer pressure and uncertainty paralyze your faith, souls must be awakened to the invisible spiritual forces that are present. Until individuals learn how to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, fear will keep many Christians stagnant. Therefore, if you want to go on your way by faith, listen and learn by implementing Paul’s teaching to the Galatians.

by Jay Mankus

My Ultimate Appeal

The 2006 film Amazing Grace details the life of William Wilberforce.  Wilberforce was an English politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to stop the Atlantic slave trade.  Despite battling health issues, Wilberforce persisted through initial failed attempts to persuade fellow politicians.  Before his death in 1833, Wilberforce was responsible for steering anti-slave trade legislation through the British parliament.

“The Bible is my ultimate appeal… slavery is contrary to the example and precepts of our body and merciful Redeemer, and of his apostles… Slavery then is a national sin,” Angelina Grimke.

Fourteen years before the Civil War began, a woman from the south felt compelled to make an appeal to Christian women who also lived in the south.  Using the Bible as her main point of reference, Angelina Grimke wrote letters to persuade other believers.  One of these letters is on display at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.  Excerpts from the quote above can be found within a display on the Bible’s impact on ending slavery.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery, Galatians 5:1.

The apostle Paul makes a similar appeal during the first century.  However, the context of the passage above refers to spiritual slavery.  Some churches, denominations and leaders used fear, legalism and peer pressure to make followers conform to their demands.  A group known as the Judaizers began to infiltrate the church at Galatia.  This sect held on to Jewish rituals, adding circumcision to salvation by forcing members to comply.  This practice goes against free will as God doesn’t force individuals to do anything.  Rather, God gives people the choice to accept or reject Jesus.  Any teaching that strays from this is a form of slavery according to Paul.  Just as Angelina Grimke makes her ultimate appeal, God longs for souls who hunger and thirst for the Bible to avoid falling prey to ungodly beliefs.

by Jay Mankus

Witchcraft: Fact or Fiction

According to a report that broke late last week, a coven of witches in New York plans to hold an event this week.  The purpose of this public gathering is to perform a ritual to place a hex on recent Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh.  I watched a segment on cable news over the weekend as a liberal guest speculated on what the sponsors of this ceremony hope to accomplish.  While neither claimed to be an authority on hexing, this news story makes me wonder if witchcraft is fact or fiction?

Then Saul said to his servants, “Find for me a woman who is a medium [between the living and the dead], so that I may go to her and ask her advice.” His servants said to him, “There is a woman who is a medium at En-dor.” So Saul disguised himself by wearing different clothes, and he left with two men, and they came to the woman at night. He said to her, “Conjure up for me, please, and bring up [from the dead] for me [the spirit] whom I shall name to you.” But the woman said to him, “See here, you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off (eliminated) those who are mediums and spiritists from the land. So why are you laying a trap for my life, to cause my death?” 10 Then Saul swore [an oath] to her by the Lord, saying, “As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this.” 11 So the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” He said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” 12 When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed with a loud voice; and she said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!” 13 The king said to her, “Do not be afraid; but [tell me] what do you see?” The woman said to Saul, “I see a divine [superhuman] being coming up from the earth,” 1 Samuel 28:7-13.

One of the most detailed passages in the Bible in relation to witches occurs in the Old Testament.  In the passage above, the witch of Endor is compared to a medium.  The best modern comparison to this woman would be the show Crossing Over.  John Edward is a psychic who claims to be able to communicate with the spirits of dead members of his audience.  At the height of this shows popularity, I asked my senior pastor what he thought about Edward’s gift.  Based upon the encounter above, able to communicate with Samuel, he believed certain individuals do have a special ability.  While certain parts of Crossing Over may be faked or over dramatized, some experiences are genuine.

O you foolish and thoughtless and superficial Galatians, who has bewitched you [that you would act like this], to whom—right before your very eyes—Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified [in the gospel message]? This is all I want to ask of you: did you receive the [Holy] Spirit as the result of obeying [the requirements of] the Law, or was it the result of hearing [the message of salvation and] with faith [believing it]? Are you so foolish and senseless? Having begun [your new life by faith] with the Spirit, are you now being perfected and reaching spiritual maturity by the flesh [that is, by your own works and efforts to keep the Law]? Have you suffered so many things and experienced so much all for nothing—if indeed it was all for nothing? So then, does He who supplies you with His [marvelous Holy] Spirit and works miracles among you, do it as a result of the works of the Law [which you perform], or because you [believe confidently in the message which you] heard with faith? – Galatians 3:1-5

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul uses witchcraft in a different context.  A group of zealous religious leaders were unable to let go of the traditions of Judaism.  Thus, this sect known as the Judaizers began to add conditions to salvation.  When the apostle Paul visited the church in Galatia, these individuals had tricked members through excessive legalism, slowly forgetting about the grace of God and freedom in Christ.  This compelled Paul to ask, “who bewitched you?”  Paul uses the analogy of a witch casting a spell over these church members, forgetting everything that Paul had taught during a previous visit.

 In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. 11 Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places, Ephesians 6:10-12.

After searching through the scriptures, there are only 2 questions left to address: what is a hex and are witches real?  According to the dictionary, a hex refers to casting a spell over someone or something.  The purpose of this act is to jinx a person by calling upon demonic powers.  When you search placing a hex on someone, most of my searches tied nexing to voodoo, taking a pin and placing it in a voodoo doll.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul reveals three different realms of darkness.  Physical opponents in the form of rulers, worldly forces that tempt individuals to be lured into darkness and spiritual forces of evil.  While modern day witches may not resemble characters from Bewitched, Charmed or other Hollywood shows, witches do exist and can harm the body of Christ by placing curses of those they deem to be the enemy.  Thus, its essential to use prayer as a hedge of protection to prevent you and your family from current or future curses.

by Jay Mankus

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