“Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?”
Paul, in seeking to help the Galatians correct the cause of their spiritual detour, made mention of their spiritual beginning: “Ye did run well.” They had been running so admirably. They had started their spiritual journey in a way that was clearly commendable in the eyes of the apostle, but something had retarded their progress. They had gotten sidetracked from the truth and their initial zeal. Paul asked the pointed question, “who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?”
The testimony of the Galatians sounds all too familiar. We know many who “did run well,” only to be hindered in some way later. This passage should serve as a warning to us all. Because we have run well, or are presently running well, is not a guarantee that we will always run well. There are stumbling blocks in life that are capable of hindering us. Our flesh can certainly hinder us, as can the world and the devil. Worldly entanglements, selfish ambitions, spiritual laziness, willful stubbornness, and a host of other influences can hinder our spiritual progress.
In the case of the Galatians, it was false teachers that hindered them – those who perverted the Word of God and preached a false gospel. Only God knows how many people have had their spiritual progress interrupted or halted by false teaching. Though they may have begun well, they were led astray by error. We must be careful who we listen to and whom we follow. The result of the Galatians’ acceptance of false doctrine was personal disobedience. Our text says, “who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” The false message led to their disobedience. Although their hindrance could be traced back to false teachers, the responsibility for allowing themselves to be deceived, and thus hindered, rested on the Galatians. The same is true for all. We can only be turned aside by our own consent.
Paul asked the Galatians who it was that hindered them. He knew, but he wanted them to acknowledge the source of their spiritual problems. This is a good thing for us to consider as well. We should seek to identify that which hinders us. If we can recognize the things that lead to our spiritual struggles and remove their influence from our lives, we will be on our way to a life of more consistent growth and progress.