As Paul begins chapter 5 of his letter to the Galatians he focuses attention on how expensive it is to embrace a “works based” salvation. In Galatians 5:2-3, he points out the incredible consequences of embracing works. First 04 valuehe says, “Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.” The value, your appreciation, of Christ’s work on the cross of Calvary will be depreciated. But even more than that, most literal translations put it this way; if you accept circumcision then, “Christ will profit you nothing!” Gromacki explains that this phrase “declares that no merit of the Savior’s death and resurrection would be reckoned to the account of any person who believed that circumcision was essential for justification. A man is not saved by faith in what Christ has done and by faith in what he can do, whether that involves circumcision, baptism, or any other sacramental work.”

Religious rituals are not the only things that people have added as a prerequisite to salvation. The list of things that people have added to faith as the basis for salvation is endless. But whenever anyone adds anything at all as a requirement for heaven above and beyond faith in Jesus, Gromacki continues, “that action demonstrates that the person has not exercised the type of faith which the Bible demands. Saving faith trusts Christ only and repudiates any attempt of man to produce a meritorious work. Paul warned that if anyone received circumcision as an additional means of salvation he would manifest that he was really an unsaved person.” David Guzik explained, “How tragic! Jesus, dying on the cross, pouring out His blood, His life, His soul, His agony, His love for us—and it will profit you nothing! Two men died with Jesus; for the one who put his trust in Jesus, it was eternal life. For the one who trusted in himself, it profited him nothing.”

The reason this is so is found in verse 3. Paul goes on to say, “I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.” To put a law, i.e., circumcision, as an essential ingredient to salvation, brings with it the obligation to keep the entire law. For a gentile to accept circumcision was to say that he embraced the Law of Moses. When one embraces the law as the rule for walking with God, one must embrace the whole law. James said the same thing in James 2:10, “For whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” The very purpose of the law was to bring us to the realization that we need a savior. To be saved by any law-keeping method our law-keeping must be perfect. If you are stopped for speeding, it’s useless to argue that you are a faithful husband or a competent employee. It’s irrelevant. To protest that you have obeyed the speed limit most of the time is also irrelevant. You are still guilty, but now, you’re guilty without a savior! Paul nearly pleads with the Galatians and with us “stand firm in your freedom, for it was for freedom that Christ has set us free!”