Summary: The Bible teaches that Satan is a master counterfeiter, trying to pass off on people a version of Christianity that looks good but will not be accepted by God in Heaven.
Have you ever had a counterfeit bill? That’s never happened to me. But sometimes, today, people can get scammed into buying a counterfeit ticket to a sporting event or concert or even buying a counterfeit product that was cheaply made to look like the real thing.
The Bible teaches that Satan is a master counterfeiter, trying to pass off on people a version of Christianity that looks good but will not be accepted by God in Heaven.
It would be embarrassing to be trying to use a counterfeit bill or a counterfeit ticket, but it will be much worse to stand before God one day and hear him say that your Christianity is counterfeit. This is Paul’s warning in these verses. Make sure you don’t accept a counterfeit Christianity.
Soon after the Gospel began to spread among the Gentiles, some Jewish men who claimed to believe in Christ began teaching the Gentile converts that they could not be saved unless they also were circumcised according to the Law of Moses. They did not deny that a person must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but they added the keeping of the Jewish Law, especially circumcision, to faith in Christ as something necessary for salvation.
The issue was debated and resolved at a council of church leaders in the church at Jerusalem where it was decided that Gentiles do not have to become Jews or be circumcised to be saved. Every person, Jew or Gentile, is saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. You can read about this council in Acts 15.
However, that decision did not cause Satan to give up his efforts at distorting the truth of the Gospel. He continued his work through a group of false teachers known as the Judaizers. These men followed Paul around on his missionary journeys like a pack of dogs, infiltrating the newly founded churches and new believers with their false teaching that a person had to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses if they were to be truly saved.
As a father protects his children, Paul wanted to keep his spiritual children from harm. Paul wrote the book of Galatians to refute the false teachers and their teachings. Sometimes, children think their parents are being mean when in reality, they are just being protective. And the same is true in the church. Sometimes, people in the pew think the pastor is being mean when in reality, he is only being protective. It sounds like Paul is being mean by calling the Judaizers these names like “dogs, evil doers, etc.” Some of the people in the church may have enjoyed these false teachers and regarded them highly, but Paul was like a protective father warning them of danger.
In Galatians 1:6-9, Paul says “let these false teachers be accursed and let anyone who perverts the true Gospel be accursed.”
While the Judaizers don’t really exist under that name today, the core of their teachings is still going strong. There are many counterfeit gospels being taught today where people are trying to add to what Christ accomplished on the Cross for man’s salvation.
1. Look out for the false teaching that you are right with God because of your heritage.
Who are these “dogs” Paul is talking about? They are the Judaizers. “Dogs” was a racial slur used by the Jews towards the Gentiles. It referred to packs of wild dogs that used to raid the garbage and eat anything they could find. In Bible times, dogs were not pets. Dogs were scavengers. They were not picky about what they ate. They ate garbage. They ate dead animals. Sometimes, they would eat human corpses, and even ate their own vomit.
Since the Gentiles were not concerned about clean and unclean foods or about purifying themselves according to the Jewish rituals, the Jews viewed them as unclean dogs. Gentiles were not allowed into the Temple to worship because they were deemed “unclean.”
So by excluding the Gentiles from being part of God’s people because they had not been circumcised, the Judaizers were basically calling the Gentiles “dogs” even though the Gentile believers were saved and followers of Christ. They were regarded as unclean because they did not get circumcised.
When a Jew called a Gentile a “dog”, he was showing ethnic pride and acting as if he was better because of his heritage. Paul is taking that slur and turning it back on the false teachers. He is saying “You Judaizers are not right with God just because of your Jewish heritage.”
There are some people I have met who think they are going to Heaven because they are a Baptist. They were raised in a Baptist church, and they think that earns them some favor with God. If you are trusting in being a Baptist, a Methodist, a Presbyterian, a Lutheran, or a Catholic, you have a counterfeit Christianity. Your church heritage does not gain you any favor with God.