Sunday, 17 February 2013

Galatians 5

Having placed before them the refutation of both false doctrine and those who teach it, Paul, through exhortation, brings the Galatians to a moment of choice – Christ, or the Law?

True freedom is only found in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ (Vs 1) – every other means or device is folly. If they decide to keep the requirements of demands that God has entirely nullified through His Son, then they are, in effect, stating that this wonderful gift of God Himself, rescuing and reconciling us, is not good enough, and they will obligate themselves to something they cannot achieve (Vs 2&3). The dreadful result of such a pursuit is a divorce from Christ (Vs 4) – a complete loss of their true justification, and their standing in God’s grace.

Seeking to dress ourselves in our own merit or worth blinds us to how what counts is truly achieved. It is not by adorning the chains of our depravity with works we think are of merit that we find peace and righteousness – such deeds have no more value than remaining without them, just as our attempts to keep the Law amount to as much value, in regards peace and righteousness, as returning to the world. No, what counts is a faith that changes us because it allows us to see the Love of God poured out to us through the precious giving and breaking of His beloved Son (Vs 6) – that is what it truly means to be obedient; to love this precious mercy of God to us. The Galatians had known this, but the pernicious entanglement of false teaching had ensnared them in the lie that they could not be truly free without seeking to add something by their own efforts to the astounding work of Grace (Vs 7). Such poisoned notions mar and pollute the pure liberty that is ours, but Paul teaches us this must not be (Vs 8) – they must be firmly rooted in the freeing work of Christ alone!

The message and the liberation of Jesus is so singularly clear and mending, that Paul has no doubt that now he has clarified the matter, these people, who know the goodness of God’s redemption, will return and the troublesome teachers will be routed (Vs 10). Only then can the truth that seems so shocking and abhorrent to our rebellious religiousness be returned – the offence of Christ crucified (Vs 11). Such truth alone defines the folly of our own fallen piety.

The Life of God

The Gospel, notes Paul, takes us outside of our propensity to dress what is of us as righteous, because it requires us to encounter and to fellowship in something far richer and more substantial that what we are or what we do, which can so easily conclude in spite and division (Vs 13-15).  Genuine Christianity is seeing the life and work of God’s spirit active amongst us in the love that caused God to come amongst us to save us (Vs 16 & 17). We are not saved from the world by our striving to escape wickedness by the Law (Vs 18), which makes evident to us what the sinful nature desires (Vs 19 & 20), but by seeing God’s life work amongst us to bring a manner of change which truly reveals something of the richness of the one who lives within us by His saving work (Vs 22 & 23).

1 comment:

Steve Martin said...

Good stuff, Howard!

One of two things happen when we meet the Lord Jesus.

Either we die...or He dies.

God bless you, friend.