Archive for the ‘Galatians’ Category

Galatians 6

Paul wraps up his letter to the church at Galatia by focusing on the interaction between people and the church.  He begins by reminding them that we need to hold each other accountable, but to do it God’s way.  “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness”.  That seems simple enough, but is actually far from it.  The easy part is catching another in sin.  We’re all guilty, so it’s just a matter of watching and waiting.  But first realize that this verse applies only to Christ Followers – not the world at large – when Paul begins with ‘brothers’.  Secondly, the sin has to be caught, not something heard about or assumed.  Third, restoration should only come from a fellow Christ Follower who is spiritually mature and walking consistently with Christ.  Restoring another is not about raising our own status or making us feel better because we caught someone else sinning.  It requires one to be spiritual mature and growing.  And finally, Paul tells us that the restoration – not correction – should be done with a spirit of gentleness.  It isn’t a 2X4 to the side of the head – it is gently teaching and walking with someone to bring them back to their walk with Jesus.  It’s messy, hard work, and requires commitment on our part if we are going to be a spiritual mentor who restores another.

He goes on to remind us that we are to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”.  What law  you may ask?  The one where He tells us to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’.  We are not to live in isolation focused on ourselves, but in community where we are loving those in our patch.  Selfishness or self focus is not part of God’s design for us as a Christ Follower.  “For  if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself”.  Life is not about you or me.  Life is completely about living out Christ’s commandments to love God and love our neighbors.  It isn’t about building our own kingdom or accumulating stuff.

The laws of God’s world are pretty simple.  “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life”.  God’s economy isn’t complicated at all – certainly not rocket science.  We will receive in life based on how we live.  If we sow blessing and goodness, that’s what we will reap.  So we should stay focused on being sowers of good seed and make sure our lives are filled with good soil so we reap the goodness that God desires within us.

It’s hard work, but Paul tells us to stay the course.  “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith”.  What should our life consist of?  Walking with Christ and loving those in our patch.  Life isn’t about making money or seeing how much stuff we can accumulate.  It is about loving people and doing good where God has planted us as we minister to our neighbors and the Body of Christ we are part of.  Paul is careful to keep the main thing the main thing.  “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world”.  Life is ultimately about Jesus, not us, and we need to keep Him as the message and main focus. Nothing else ultimately matters!

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Galatians 5

Galatians 5 has Paul nailing the Galatian church with the struggles they are going through regarding faith versus the law.  “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery”.  Faith in Christ gives us freedom through God’s grace – the law no longer owns us.  But we need to stay committed to that faith.  “You who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace….For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love”.  While the law doesn’t go away with Christ, it is not the way to salvation.  Faith alone is.

Paul makes it clear that the freedom we get through Christ is our ticket to loving and serving each other.  “Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another”.  It isn’t our ticket to do anything and everything we want.  If it feels good, we shouldn’t just do it.  In fact, Paul tells us “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh”.  Paul wrote to the Corinthian church that temptation could not control us.  God gives us the Holy Spirit to live within us and to help us live victoriously.  We walk successfully when we walk with the Spirit.

If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law”.  God’s grace gives us freedom.  It sets us free from the law.  Jesus is the freedom.  Paul goes on to describe what living without the Spirit looks like: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions,  divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these”.  These are things that are not glorifying to God – things that are sinful that the Spirit of God would not guide us into.  God’s Spirit will direct us to walk in righteousness and godliness if we simply follow Him.

What the Spirit does in us looks completely different – “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;  against such things there is no law.”   Nine qualities that are the result of the Holy Spirit living in us and through us.  If we are truly Christ followers, “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”.  We no longer live for ourselves.  “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit”.  Paul challenges us to let the Spirit of God control how we live and what we do.  It’s not about letting our feelings and desires run free.  Being a Christ Follower is about letting the Holy Spirit guide how we act and that will be godly living that honors God.

Galatians 4

Galatians 4 has Paul talking about our status as Christ Followers in relationship to God.  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born  of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons”.  This is no small thing that God has done for us.  He gave His only Son to redeem us as sinners to His righteous standards.  But more than that, He adopted us as His very own children. We’re not outsiders granted a gift, we are taken in as His very own and become part of His family and He becomes our Father!

What an amazing gift of grace. But the impact of God’s decision to love us that way and adopt us as His very own means we will always be a child of His.  Our future is not dependent on how we act or live.  As an earthly father, if my kids do things that are not what I want, the relationship may become strained, but they will always be my children.  That same truth exists about our relationship with God as a Christ Follower.  We become His kids, and as such, will always be part of His family.  We can make choices that strain our relationship with Him, but never change our status as a child of His once we make the step of receiving Christ as our Savior.  “And because you are sons, God has sent  the Spirit of his Son into our hearts”.

Our entire status changes when we receive God’s gift of grace through Christ.  “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God”.  We are not just a child of God – we become a joint heir to the Father’s world with Christ.  “But now that you have come to know God, or rather  to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more….I entreat you, become as I am”.  God has given us this amazing gift and Paul encourages us to live as a child of the King just as he is.  That doesn’t mean someone entitled and lazy, but serving as part of God’s body to tell the story of Jesus to those in our patch.

We have a new status as a child of God.  We are an heir, but also we are free from our sin.  “So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman”.  Sin doesn’t go away, but it no longer has control of us.  We no longer are a slave to it.  God has set us free from all that sin can do to us in destroying our present and future.  We are child of the King and son of a free woman.  Our future is secure if we will only receive the free gift God has provided us through Jesus Christ.  What an amazing story He has written that we can join and be part of as His son and joint heir with the King!

Galatians 3

Galatians 3 has Paul dealing with the church at Galatia around the topic of the law and faith.  It seems they have lost their way a bit in their understanding of how faith alone is the way to salvation through Christ.  “Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith”?  He reminds them that they were saved by faith, but now are falling back to works and the law.  “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh”?  Their change makes no sense.  They received Christ through faith, and the Salvation God offered them through grace.  But now they are waffling on that.

So he gets in their face and challenges their fallback to works.  “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—just as  Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?  Salvation has always come through faith.  They know this and have previously believed.  But the enemy tests our faith and challenges the truth of God’s grace.  Paul reinforces it.  “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham….So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith”.  God made a promise to Abraham many centuries earlier that is still in effect today.

There can be no salvation outside of grace which does not depend on the law or our works.  “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them”.  God’s standard is clear and simple – it is perfection to keep all His commands.  No human is capable of living that standard without fail.  Thus no one who attempts to achieve eternal life based on the law and our works has any hope of achieving salvation.  It cannot be done by mere mortal man.  So God sent Jesus to the Cross.  “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us”. 

We have no hope except through Jesus.  “For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law”.  The theory of becoming righteous by our works may seem possible, but it is not – it is impossible.  “Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that  the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe”.  God had to provide a different way, and that was done through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed….the law was our  guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith”.

The law was in place before Christ, but now has been replaced by God’s grace.  “Now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith”.  Paul makes is crystal clear.  We will never achieve salvation through our works.  Our salvation does not depend on us at all.  It is completely and absolutely dependent on Jesus.  God gave us grace when Christ went to the Cross and that alone is our hope and salvation.  He is our King.  He alone can redeem us from the penalty of sin.  He alone is Savior and Lord.  We need to make sure we are right with Him!

Galatians 2

Galatians 2 has Paul dealing with the church and some of the false teachings that were being spread.  There was an effort to undermine what Paul has been up to.  “Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you”.  Paul knows God’s truth and is not going to let anyone dissuade him or those he is teaching if at all possible.  He stands firmly for the truth, just as we need to even today.

This was some high stakes interaction, as even Peter was involved at some level.  “When they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised….and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised”.  Peter and his buddies see that Paul is teaching Christ crucified and do a division of efforts as to who would serve which group.

Paul has no fear of standing on principles.  “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy”.  Paul calls Peter out publicly for being a hypocrite and failing to live according to God’s truth.  “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews”?  Paul lets him have it and calls him out.

Paul declares the truth of the gospel.  “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified”.  The gospel is about Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  Nothing more, nothing less.  And Paul is living as a Christ Follower completely and without fear.  “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”.  That’s what the gospel is all about – not you or me – but Jesus and our faith in Him as the Savior and Lord who makes our future secure!

Galatians 1

Galatians 1 has Paul connecting with the church in Galatia.  Paul gives them a greeting of who he is and what he has to teach them.  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever”.  His focus is single-minded being about Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross to set us free from the penalty of sin and deliver victory over evil.

It seems the church was losing its way and following something other than the gospel of Christ.  “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”.  False teachers have always been a problem in the church.  People distort the truth and try to adapt it to fit their own wants and needs.  Paul calls on the church to follow only the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and nothing more or less.

Paul makes it clear that what he teaches are not his words but those of Christ Himself.  “For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ”.  That is important to know and understand, that Jesus gave us the message of the gospel Himself based on God’s plan and revelation of the future.  The gospel is not man’s idea, but God’s plan to redeem us from the penalty of sin through the shed blood of His Son on the cross.

Remember that Paul certainly wasn’t always one who proclaimed the gospel of Christ.  In fact, for many years he persecuted and even killed Christians.  But then Jesus met Him personally and changed his life forever. This is what was said about Paul: “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy”.  Talk about a change of life.  Paul went from prosecutor and persecutor to proclaimer and preacher of the gospel.  He became a hero of the church.  “And they glorified God because of me”.  Talk about a complete turn around.  Paul’s life demonstrates the power of God in the life of someone who was lost, and now is found.  That can be me and you too!

Galatians 6

Galatians 6 contains Paul’s direction for how we ought to live together.  He gives us a series of short commands.  Many of these are difficult and would place us in confrontational and uncomfortable situations with others.  But they are important and we need to consider what Paul instructs us here:

–       “if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness

–       Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted

–       Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ

–       let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor

–       One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches

–       Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap

–       the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life

–       let us not grow weary of doing good

–       let us do good to everyone

This is a difficult set of directives.  We are to pay attention to those in our patch. If anyone strays, we are to restore them.  Not by beating them over the head.  Not by publishing their wrongdoings.  Not by shouting it from the mountaintops.  We are to restore them gently.  And while we are at it we need to be careful not to fall to temptation as well.  Our role is to carry each other’s burdens – to come along side one another and help carry the load.  This is not a solo lifestyle we are called to as Christ Followers.  We are to live together in the body – living in the Spirit – and never growing weary of being involved with others in our patch who need our help. 

Paul reminds us that the only reason we will ever have to boast is because of Jesus.  “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”.  All we are is due to Him.  And Paul earned the right to declare truth.  He carried the marks.  “I bear on my body the marks of Jesus”.  Do you carry the marks of Jesus?  Have you been so much as persecuted for your faith?  Too many of us have not.  We have never even stood strong for Jesus.  We don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable.  We don’t want to stir things up.  Heaven forbid we are politically incorrect and talk about Jesus.  Paul didn’t talk about it – he suffered for his faith.  Have you?  Would you?  Will you?

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