Archive for category Galatians
Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia.
Do you notice how Paul seems to be defending himself?
“I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.”
And then there’s “All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia.”
And then, later in the chapter, “Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.”
Kinda sounds like Paul is defending his authority.
Well, that’s because in his absence, Jewish Christians had come in teaching that same old circumcision message we read about in Philippians. These people had a religious spirit that kept them in bondage to fleshly acts that lead to salvation – which is the exact opposite from Christ’s message of freedom from the flesh. These religious people began to try and discredit Paul as part of their message. That’s why Paul is defending his authority. I like his comment in verse 10, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
I like his style. And I agree with this statement for myself. Following Christ is not the way to win friends and influence people!
So – this letter has kind of a harsh tone. “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God…”
Do you know anybody who has turned away from Christ’s message of freedom ONLY through Jesus and exchanged it for some things they must do, at least in part, in order to be saved? Good works? Confession to a priest, perhaps? Holy days of obligation, anyone? I don’t mean to pick on the Catholic religion. There are other religions that also require these types of actions.
And – don’t hear me say that good works are wrong. James has a good message on this in his book. But, works without faith are simply worthless acts when it comes to salvation. We cannot be saved by fleshly circumcision – just like we cannot be saved by our own good works. If that was the case, Jesus Christ would not have had to die on the cross.
It was as perplexing back then as it seems to be today. I’ve talked with several people who have this mindset of the Galatians – that you must obey the law for your salvation. Although we’re not talking circmucision today, as in the day, there are still laws that people try to measure themselves against for their salvation. “Have I done more bad things today than good?” This is an age-old trick of the enemy. Get people focused on “doing” rather than “being.”
Paul makes it clear, in no uncertain terms, that this is the farthest from the truth.
The law condemns. It shows us our sins. It was designed to last only until the coming of Christ. No one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law.
2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the law? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit came upon you only after you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3 Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? 4 You have suffered so much for the Good News. Surely it was not in vain, was it? Are you now going to just throw it all away? 5 I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law of Moses? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.
It is through faith that we have life. We receive God’s promise of freedom ony by believing in Jesus Christ.
This seems so clear. Yet, why do we punish ourselves when we sin? Why do we live like prisoners to our sins? Why do we see people fall away from the church because they feel they can’t live up to the standard? True: we must confess our sins and repent. But, this is separate from our position in the Kingdom.
Why is it difficult to see? Why is this freedom just out of reach for many? For those that have heard the truth and believed, how can sin continue to strangle us?
Could it be that there are so many among us that do not have faith in Jesus Christ? Are there still those that have not heard and understood that faith in Jesus Christ is what saves us?
grace & peace,