Vs. 7, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Question: Are we living by the flesh or by the Spirit? Paul now shares some practical ways we as Christians can live in community with each other. We are to share our burdens with each other (vs. 1-5), but must be careful to do it wisely and gently. We then are reminded of the responsibility we have as Christians (vs. 7-10). Doing good things will not save us, but one of the sure evidences of saved people is doing good works. Our lives as Christians is not just a personal faith, but a sharing of community in the church and in this world. We are called to share the love of Christ and do good in His name! In the last part of our chapter (vs. 11-18), Paul uses this opportunity to summarize his overall purpose of why he is sending this letter to Galatia. Remember, Paul is responding to the Judaizers who are trying to force the old ways upon Gentile believers (vs. 12-13). Most importantly, Paul reminded them that his identity was found in his new creation through Jesus Christ (vs. 14-18).
Regarding application…Don’t Give Up! Vs. 9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” There will always be opportunities to do good in this life. It takes time, blood, sweat and tears to build God’s church. There are undoubtedly moments where we just want to throw up our hands in frustration. Don’t give up. Question: How do we stop from being weary? Spending time with Jesus. Hear Jesus’ own words in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” In God’s timing…we will reap a harvest! But, we must be patient with each other, bearing the fruits of the Spirit that we read about yesterday. And when it comes to the church, look how Paul made sure we didn’t forget about how important it was to love our fellow believers and do good for them! What a timely reminder as I am preparing to ask my own church to step out in love and service! I love God’s timing!
Vs. 1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Question: What is this freedom? It means we were once lost and now found. It means that we are enjoying fellowship with God and therefore free from the yoke of sin and slavery. Paul reminds us in Romans 8:2, “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death.” We have access to God the Father because of Jesus on the cross and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. We are not free to do anything we want (vs. 13-15), but we are now free and given the chance to do what is right. By being set free we are able to love God and love others. By adhering to the law (vs. 2-12), they would be nullifying what Jesus did for them. It’s also interesting to note Paul’s sarcasm (vs. 12). Alas, Paul continues to expound upon this concept of what are lives are to look like now that we have freedom and life in the Spirit (vs. 13-26). We have a tendency to abuse freedom when it is given to us, so Paul now exhorts us to not live in the flesh. Paul gives us two lists, one that is living in the flesh (vs. 19-21) and one that is living in the Spirit (vs. 22-23).
Regarding application…Keep Up! Vs. 25, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Earlier (vs. 16) we were given this picture of walking with the Spirit. Keeping in step with the Spirit. Question: What is this to look like? Walking gives us the understanding of movement. We are not to be dormant and still. As we walk, we are going towards a direction and gaining progress towards our destination. Spiritually, we are to walk with the Spirit through prayer, bible reading, and growing in the knowledge of the Lord. I’ve been reminding the ministry I’m in that we are in a marathon, not a sprint. This life is a daily walk as we leave our sinful past and go towards our final destination in heaven. Let’s keep up and not fall behind and forget where we are going!
Vs. 7, “So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” Paul opens up this chapter giving us a this idea that a child waiting for an inheritance is no different than a slave (vs. 1-7). Jewish life and law was like waiting as a child for the inheritance. That child waiting for the inheritance was no more richer than a slave. But now Jesus brings the inheritance to Israel, but many rejected it. So, Paul is exhorting them to realize that Jesus now brings that inheritance to them with all the promises of God’s provision and love. Yet, Paul is deeply concerned because of their negative influences and actions taken from the false messages of the Judaizers (vs. 8-11). He reminds them of how they opened up their heart to Paul when he was very ill and their initial response to the Gospel (vs. 12-16). But now there were the Judaizers trying to sway them back to their slave-like ways of living (vs. 17-18). Lastly, Paul uses allegory to give us some insight going back to Abraham and his two sons (Ishmael and Isaac) (vs. 21-31). The old covenant law was like Ishmael, born of the flesh. Isaac didn’t come until many years of waiting, but brought joy when he came. There is spiritual truth in this historical event recorded in Genesis 16, 17 & 21. Are we born of the flesh (like Hagar) or the trusting promises of God (like Sarah)?
Regarding application…Known by God. Vs. 9, “But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” There is a certain amount of esteem we find by those who know us. If my Facebook friend was President Obama, that would look quite impressive! I would brag about the fact that he knows me! I like how Paul emphasizes to the Galatians that it is God who knows them. There is advantages and power in who we know and more importantly who knows us. As Christians, God doesn’t only know us…but we are adopted as His sons and daughters! Once lost, but now found! Find comfort today in knowing that God is aware of all the things going on in your life. You are known by God!
Vs. 1, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.” Over the next two chapters, Paul takes us into some pretty deep theology. In our chapter, Paul is using a form or rhetoric to challenge the Galatians to start thinking about their foolish actions. They had so easily forgotten about the joy of experiencing God’s grace and now were reverting back to an old theology of law. The Judaizers liked to use Abraham as their example for their argument, so Paul fights fire with fire. He reminded them that Abraham was justified not by his own righteousness, but by faith (vs. 6-8, Genesis 15:6). Two other important reminders are that God promised Abraham that all nations (not just the Jews) would be blessed and that the Law was under a curse (Deuteronomy 27:26). Abiding by the law can never bring salvation, for it only points out our faults. But, not all hope is lost, for Jesus is the fulfillment of the covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:2-3). Question: So what is the purpose of the Law (vs. 19)? This topic is a very deep. To summarize, I would share and remind us that the Law was never given to Gentiles (Romans 2:14), the Law shows us our sins (vs. 22), and the Law prepared the way for Jesus (vs. 23-29).
Regarding application…You are seeds. Vs. 29, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Earlier we were reminded that Jesus is the Seed (vs. 19) and that all of us are one in Christ (vs. 28). And now we are reminded that we are seeds. Question: Who are you? What is your identity? The Jews wanted the Gentiles to be like them and act like them. But even the Jews had forgotten who they really were. We are the seeds of Christ. In a world that pulls us in all types of directions, now more than ever we need to stand up for who we are! A seed starts out small, but if nurtured and loved, it can grow and bear fruit. The Young Adult ministry I’m in calls themselves Roots and the Youth call themselves Seeds. But we are all seeds! Let us grow and bear fruit that lasts!
Vs. 21, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.” Despite the opposition, Paul remained resolute on ensuring the truth of God’s grace would continue to ring clear. There are five recorded instances where Paul visits Jerusalem. While there are differing views on which instance Paul is referring to in our passage (vs. 1-10), the point that Paul makes is that not only did he find approval from the mother church in Jerusalem, but that God was blessing him (vs. 2) each step of the way. Remember, the Jews strongly felt that the Gentiles should follow their customs of the past (i.e. circumcision). But Paul makes it a point to the Galatian churches that Peter (Cephas), John and James (the half-brother of Jesus) all who were the esteemed leaders (vs. 2), were supporting him. Paul then refers to an event that is not easy to think about: The confrontation with Peter (vs. 11-21) in Antioch. Question: What was the issue? Paul confronted Peter because initially when visiting Antioch Peter was fellowshipping with Gentiles. However, when the Judaizers came, Peter turned away from the Gentiles and separated himself from them. Needless to say, this caused quite an issue for it separated the Jews and Gentiles. Paul accused Peter’s actions as hypocritical (vs. 13). Peter aligning himself with the Judaizers was presenting a false stance and distorted the very truth of the Gospel! By conforming to the Judaizers, Peter was endorsing their ways in how they approached the Lord.
Regarding application…Dying to Live. Vs. 20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” This was the title message of my sermon this morning in Philippians 1:18-26. Here again, we are reminded of the truth of the Gospel! The Gospel is the Good News. The Good News is that we don’t have to be perfect to attain eternal life. It is not what we do (vs. 15-16, justified by works), but what Christ did for us. Being crucified is taking up our own metaphorical cross daily and following Jesus (Luke 9:23). Brothers and sisters, we have a responsibility to live out the Gospel. This was the driving force that convicted Paul to oppose Peter. It wasn’t that Peter was condemned to hell by his actions (vs. 11), but he was condemned for the testimony and message that came across to others. How we choose to live our lives can hinder others (vs. 13). Even one of the greatest encouragers for the Gentiles in Barnabas was hindered by Peter’s actions. When we choose to live out the Gospel, we die to ourselves. Go forth this week and let Christ live in you so abundantly that people see Jesus in you!
Vs. 6, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.” The strong tone of Paul’s comments are unique because in all of Paul’s other letters, he is not providing a thanksgiving section after his greeting. Question: What was the issue of this false gospel that Paul refers to (vs. 6-9)? Some of the Jews were trying to change the very terms of what grace meant. By reverting back to the Jewish customs of the past, they were neglecting what Jesus had done on the cross. How quickly they were changing their ways! In fact, Paul goes on to say that this way of thinking didn’t even qualify to be called the gospel (vs. 7), for this was not good news. What can get lost is the simple fact of Jesus being the centerpiece of it all (vs. 12). With religious pluralism and thoughts that different roads can lead us to heaven, we must realize that this thinking is a very dangerous thing. Paul goes on to defend his calling and authority from those who questioned it (vs. 10-24). Who better could relate these Jews who were holding on to the law? Paul was the perfect example of a Jew (vs. 13-14).
Regarding application…Pleasing Who? Vs. 10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” God must always come first. Question: Does that mean I never have to seek approval from others? In the context, Paul was not concerning himself with the false thoughts of those who were obviously not of the mind of Christ. However, as Christians, we should be mindful of finding approval of those in the church who are walking with God. Paul admonished the Roman Christians, “because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.” (Romans 14:18). Question: Do you see the difference? For example: when you choose a spouse, seek approval from Godly sources (Parents, Pastors, friends, etc.) We must have wisdom in realizing we are not independent from the body of Christ. Ultimately, it is Jesus whom we build our esteem. Question: Who are you trying to please?
Note: We will go back to the OT with the book of Ecclesiastes starting Wednesday!
Vs. 7, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” While most of us think of this verse referring to sin, and certainly this is applicable…the context of this passage is talking more about giving or sharing. When we choose to live by the Spirit with giving and sharing…we reap with blessings that give back to us. When we live by our selfish motives, we will reap things that will not last (money, material possesions, shallow friendships, etc.). Paul exhorted us to not worry about how others will view us, but to remember that find our “identity” is in our “new creation” (vs. 15). Our identity is not found in what Ethnic background we are, in what clique we hang out at in school, in what extra-curricular activities we do, in what school we attend, etc… Notice how Paul emphasized this point in mentioning how he is purposefully writing in LARGE letters (vs. 11).
Regarding application…Carrying Each Others Burdens. Vs. 2, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” By choosing to love & be selfless…we are using the freedom in Christ to the full. Jesus lived for others & we must do the same. We must bear each other burdens, but note that we are to also carry our own burdens (vs. 5) and not cause others to stumble or struggle because of us. Example of that would be complaining all the time because of a tough situation that has happened to you…and expecting others to selflessly help you because of your burden. We can’t help but see the enormous desire for Paul to see all Christians love, carry each others burden & do good to each other! It is a message that was important then as well as now. That’s why we do SAG (Student Accountability Groups), because we cannot live on our own…we need to support each other daily (Hebrews 3:13)!
Vs. 4, “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” It is Grace…now Law that is the great teacher for our Christians lives. Law tells us we have to do it, Grace gives us the priviledge of doing it. Paul is not warning the Galatian Christians that they can lose their salavation by “falling away from grace”…but he is saying we must watch out because just like a little yeast can change the dough…so can false teachings can change the whole church. The only way to combat the struggle of righteous christian living is by satisfying not your own nature but the nature of the Holy Spirit.
Regarding application…Walking By Spirit. Vs. 25, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” To “walk in the Spirit” means to have our daily lives under His control, and this basically means to allow God’s Word to guide us. It’s living without the bondage of sin and legalism. When we live by the Spirit…true Fruit will flourish for it is nurtured by our cultivating of our hearts led by the Spirit. The “Law” can never bear the real fruit of the Fruits of the Spirit that are mentioned here in verses 22-23. Walking is not just the concept of reading His Word and praying…walking connotates constant movement. As we move about our daily lives…we make the effort to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us bear that fruit for others to see and taste. Question: How is your walk today? May we be people who do things for God not because we “have” to…but because in our heart of hearts…we want to give our love back!
Vs. 7, “So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” Paul continues to share with us the truth that salvation comes by Faith…not by works. And the beauty of this is that we are heirs of the Father…we are His children! We see a man that not only preaches the truth…but a man who truly loves the church and its people. People won’t listen to you if you don’t love them. Paul goes on to share the difference between Sarah & Isaac vs. Hagar & Ishmael. Grace is equated to Isaac and Law is equated to Ishmael. The Law was never God’s final plan for His people. The danger that Paul saw in the church of Galatia is the danger that we can have today. We tend to hold on to “religious” practices that sometimes lead us down the road of Hagar & Ishmael (the road of legalism). Remember while there is nothing wrong with church traditions if they are bilblical…we must remember that those traditions did not save us.
Regarding application…Lost Joy. Vs. 15a, “What has happened to all your joy?…” Wow~~~….what a powerful question Paul asked the Galatians. And yet…that question can easily be asked to many Christians today. Where is your joy? Where did it go? It takes a daily walk to remember the joy that’s in the Lord. It’s making that concerted effort to remember the redemption the Lord Jesus gave to us and continues to do for us. We are redeemed…just as Ruth was redeemed by Boaz (Kinsman Redeemer)…we are saved and given another chance for life! It’s time to stop sulking in our own sorrows…because there will always be a reason to be sorrowful. Yes, it’s okay to cry and grieve…but even in our grief, we find true “joy” in knowing Jesus is in control. I encourage us all to reflect on what we can be joyful for today!
Vs. 10, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Grace & Law…Law & Grace…many Christians have misunderstood both. Paul begins to show foundational truths with a few points points to prove. 1. Paul reminds the Galatians that they received salvation not by law, but by Grace…for them to revert back to the Law was outright foolish! 2. Paul then goes on to use Abraham as the example, because the Galatians law observers were trying to use Abraham as their example to follow the law, but Paul was showing them they were misinterpreting God’s Word (and that is a very dangerous thing…Satan did the same thing too). 3. Paul finishes his defense with a very logical point. God had made a contract with Abraham well before the law was ever put into place (400 plus years Vs. 17). The law of Moses could never logically cancel out Abraham’s Covenant with God.
Regarding application…Why have the Law? Ahhhh…great question to ask =) 1. The law was temporary and only for Israel (vs. 19-20). God never gave the law to Gentiles (Rom. 2:14)…the moral law was written on our hearts, but the ceremony law of the Israelites was never given to us Gentiles. The law was added but not meant to replace God’s original covenant with Abraham. 2. The Law convicts us of sin, but does not save us from sin (Vs. 21-22). Think about it…if the law saved sinners, why then would Jesus have to come & die for us? 3. The Law prepared the way for Jesus! Some pastor likens the law to a schoolmaster for young children. Paul eloquently reminds us of a very important foundational truth in vs. 28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Amen!