September 21, 2017
Paul said that the Judaizers, those who insisted that Gentile believers must adhere to the Mosaic ceremonial law, “boasted” in the flesh. Yet, Paul had put away all boasting in worldly and fleshly things. He had counted all things, his Jewish resume, his desire for worldly wealth and position, as “loss for Christ” (Phil. 3:7). Why? Because he knew that the works of the flesh brought only death. But receiving the grace of God through faith in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross brings eternal life. Therefore, Paul boasted in the cross of Christ!
Where is your boasting today?
September 20, 2017
In order to be “led by the Spirit,” we must be “filled” with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). The Spirit is given to us when we receive Christ as Savior. This is the “Spirit of adoption” (Rom. 8:14-16), which identifies us as children of God. Being adopted, filled and led, we are enabled to “walk” in the Spirit. The Spirit-filled life is under grace. But the one who strives according to self-effort, which is the flesh, is still under the law and its curse, which is death. The Spirit works from the inside-out, leading and empowering the believer, but the law is external and has no ability to energize adherence. Concerning this, the author of Hebrews wrote, ‘But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them”‘ (Heb. 10:15-16). This new covenant of grace has already come in Christ Jesus!
September 19, 2017
It is faith, not the flesh, that takes hold of true righteousness. And it is the Spirit that makes faith effective and righteousness real. For the flesh strives to earn righteousness through law-keeping, which is a rejection of the grace of Christ. Those who live by the works of the flesh cannot produce righteousness. But those who live by the Spirit are enabled to bear the fruit of the Spirit by faith in the finished work and righteousness of Christ. As Edward Mote wrote in the first stanza of his famous hymn, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness!”
September 17, 2017
If the law cannot save, what purpose does it “serve?” Paul asked this rhetorical question after making the point that the “promise” of God was given 430 years before the law of God was added. The “promise” was given to Abraham that through his “Seed” all nations would be blessed (Gen.22:18). This “Seed” is Christ. So, since faith in the “Promised Seed” is the only way of salvation, why was the law given? It was given “because of transgressions.” The promise is for salvation, but the law is “because” of sin. Paul goes on in his epistle to the Galatians to give what some have called the three “R”s of the law, which answers his question, “what purpose does the law serve?”
THREE “R”s OF THE LAW:
1) Reflect our guilty condition (Like a perfect mirror).
2) Restrain our sinful behavior (Like a prison guard).
3) Reveal our need for a Savior (Like a pedagogue).
The law is good and useful, but it cannot save. Only faith in Christ saves.
September 16, 2017
God’s grace, as Paul speaks of it here, is that which saves and sustains the one trusting in Christ’s finish work of salvation. Grace is about God’s mercy, while “works righteousness” is about our merit. But grace is more than mercy, for mercy only withholds the punishment we deserve. Yet, grace gives us the opposite of what we deserve. This is not only saving and sustaining grace, it is scandalous grace. For it gives the one who deserves an “F” on life’s test, an “A+.” How is this just? It is just because Christ died in our place. He took our “F” and offers us His “A+.” When we attempt to add law-keeping to salvation, we “set aside” grace. And having nullified grace, we nullify the work of Christ on the cross with it. Grace (Greek: χάρις, charis) is God’s unmerited favor freely bestowed on those who having recognized their own inability to save themselves, put their trust in Christ and His finished work of salvation. Grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone saves.
September 15, 2017
This was a pivotal meeting in the history of the Christian Church. The apostle Paul was moved both by a revelation from God and by his desire for unity with the other apostles concerning the matter of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. Certain people had come behind Paul into Galatia teaching that the Gentile believers should essentially become Jewish, following Jewish laws and customs. Paul was confident that the gospel the Lord had given him by revelation was not just a reform movement for Judaism, but good news for the whole world. One could come to Christ without becoming Jewish. The apostles in Jerusalem affirmed Paul’s gospel as the same gospel that Christ had given them. The gospel was for every nation, tribe and tongue. It was for the whole world. And it still is!
September 14, 2017
The apostle Paul warned the Galatians against adding or subtracting from the gospel. He said that they were at risk of deserting the “grace of Christ” and perverting the “gospel of Christ.” The gospel is not only that which sets free the one in slavery to sin, it is also that which sustains the freedom of those who are now sons of God. We never outgrow the gospel. As one commentator has said, the gospel is not only the ABCs of Christianity. It is the A-Z of Christianity.
September 21, 2016
This is one of the “one another” commands found in the Bible. It applies especially to the way believers are to treat other believers, showing that they are members of Christ’s body. In context, the “burdens” to which Paul refers are the troubles that come on one who has fallen into sin. Sin brings burdens, side effects that pile on in addition to the sin itself. Someone abuses drugs, and they lose their spouse, their kids, their job, and find themselves hungry and homeless. Sin equals suffering. Yet, we are not to shoot our wounded, leaving them dying on the field of battle. We are to help them carry their burdens, binding their wounds as the Good Samaritan. The Lord forgives them their sin, yet He expects His body of believers to aid in their restoration. And what is the “law of Christ?” It refers to another “one another.” As Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).
September 20, 2016
Fruit is singular. One fruit with nine seeds, each a part of a triad of triads. These are not works. We can’t do them. They are evidence of being connected to the Vine. Abiding in Christ, we increasingly bear these character traits.
September 18, 2016
Our spiritual identity in Christ is greater than racial, demographic, gender and any other physical identities. An emphasis on the latter leads to disunity and strife. But a focus on the former leads to oneness and blessing. Law cannot accomplish this kind of unity and peace. Only those who by faith have believed in Christ may know this oneness of being members together in God’s family. This is not a call to forget physical conditions, but to make identity in Christ your banner. Race, class and gender warfare belong to the former way of life and have no place among those who follow Jesus.