Paul had taught them that one has only to trust in Jesus in order to be declared righteous before God. (The Bible uses the term “justify” for this, which is the opposite of “condemn”.)
Some started to teach the Galatians a deadly, but subtle, error. While they taught that people should trust in Jesus, they wanted the Galatians to also add some works to their faith in order to be justified (declared righteous).
What’s wrong with needing works to be justified? A lot according to the Apostle Paul…
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” Galatians 3:1
You are cut off from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” Galatians 5:4
Paul then asks a crucial question:
“Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” Galatians 4:16
Unfortunately, we need to speak the truth as well. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that works must be added to faith in order to be declared righteous before God.
At the Council of Trent, they taught the following:
CANON 9: “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema (accursed, condemned, damned).”
However, the good news of Jesus Christ is that God does indeed declare the unrighteous righteous through His death and resurrection.
So please, for the sake of your salvation, trust in Jesus and Jesus alone to be declared righteous before God. Experience the peace of trusting in God’s grace and mercy in the death and resurrection of Jesus and not in our own efforts.