I think it was one of J. R. R. Tolkien’s hobbits who was speaking about the trolls. They agreed to help the hobbits in their quest. Trolls usually eat hobbits so it was very suspicious and I think it was Bilbo Baggins who said of them, “they will hug us now, only so they can squeeze us later.” This is the point that Paul made concerning the Judaizers in Galatians 4:16-17. It reads, “Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make 23 silent killersmuch of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out that you may make much of them.” It’s probably not the most politically correct thing to do. Paul confronts the Galatians that they have been sucked in by the smooth promises of the Judaizers. No one likes to be told that they’ve been tricked. It is a common malady of man to blame the person who turns the light on for their being rats in the basement. We make the messenger our enemy. This problem is as old as Solomon. He wrote in Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” But we too often prefer the kisses than the wounds!

If we accept the teachings of a performance based system, it doesn’t matter which one, we are again consigned to obedience to that system. The Judaizers knew full well that if they won on the general issue of a works based religious systems the Galatians would be theirs. If circumcision, for example, was an essential practice to be acceptable to God, you became one with the authority that convinced you. They become a new master, a new task master, to whom you must look to for each behavior of your life. In other words you are slaves again. If you submit yourselves to one requirement, you submit yourselves to them all. If you submit yourselves to one aspect of the law, you submit yourselves to them all.

In verses 17 & 18 zeal is mentioned three times. It’s not unusual for people to fall prey to something simply because of the zeal with which it is presented. Zeal can give permission to many unthinkable practices as the world learned from Nazi Germany. Cult leaders rely heavily on zeal for their message to persuade others to follow. Zeal appeals to us. Jon Courson says that the cults attract us by appealing to our pride. He writes, “Come join us,” they say. “We’re really radical. We pay the price. We bear the Cross. We deal with stuff that only a few can deal with.” And we are prone to say, “I want to be one of the few, one of the chosen, one of the elite group that God will use in these last days. So I’ll submit to stipulations and regulations in order that I can be among the few, the chosen—the spiritual marines!” What’s the price? It’s the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control!