Galatians 2:3-4, “3 But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.”
I know this is a lot of first century culture for us to step into, but this passage can help us answer the question, “Can we all find our own truth?” Specifically, when the Apostle Paul writes the phrase, “spy out our liberty” he is talking about the freedom we have in Christ, and freedom in Christ will lead to a beautiful life.
In contrast, there is a religious community who is coming to “spy out that liberty” and claiming “truth” but it is leading to bondage as Gentile Christians are being told to follow Jewish custom and rituals.
But, these claims by the religious leaders are contrary to the gospel. All those Jewish customs discussed in Galatians 2 were established so that it would be clear to humanity that nobody could ever make ourselves clean, righteous and presentable to God. This is why we need the good news of Jesus!
Jesus has come to fulfill all the requirements of the Jewish Law, Jewish customs, and Jesus even became unclean so that by grace through faith in Jesus we might be made clean.
In contrast there are religious leaders from Jerusalem who are sneaking into the Gentiles backyards, spying on the Gentile Christians to see if they are following Jewish customs, Jewish rituals, and I guess to see if the men were circumcised, and the Apostle Paul writes, “They are trying to bring us back under bondage.”
Do you see the tension? Can the Gentile Christians ignore the Jewish customs? Should Gentile Christian men be circumcised? How do you decide? Who is going to win? How can you decide what is true?
In our culture today we aren’t arguing about circumcision, but we have become very skeptical of absolute truth, because the assumption is that absolute truth comes with power, and historically that power has become corrupt, therefore, if we can water down absolute truth we can make the world a better place.
Historically we see a shift away from the institution and toward the individual. There is Descartes, “I think therefore, I am.” The Age of Enlightenment, the establishment of the United States with individual rights and democracy, so that “absolute truth” has become the enemy, and personal experiences and opinions become truth.
Now, when you got to the doctor you have in the back of your head, “Does this man or woman really know what they are talking about?” When you sit down with a pastor you are wondering, “Can I trust them? What’s their angle? Why are they doing this?” When we listen to our political leaders we are wondering, “How corrupt are they?” We’ve rooted ourselves in personal experiences and opinions to determine truth.
But, if every person determines their own truth you have to concede there are people around the world who believe the exact opposite, therefore, how do you decide what is true? How is truth not determined by money, majority, or might?
This is what is happening in Galatians 2. How do you decide who wins the argument? The Apostle Paul is considered the least of the apostles. The Gentiles are considered the nobodies of the world. The Jewish people have thousands of years of history on their side.
In Galatians 2 the Apostle Paul says, “No, it is not by money, majority, or might, but by liberty.” It is the word, “freedom.” It means we can determine absolute truth by the quality of the life that is produced, and in Galatians 5 the Apostle Paul affirms the Galatians and says, “Keep running well.” The gospel is working!
It isn’t that absolute truth is wicked and to be avoided, but that absolute truth will bring a beautiful life. When we don’t see the beautiful life promised in Jesus, then it is likely that we have drifted from truth.