Today’s reading in The Story begins on page 429 with the words, “Paul, and apostle – sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus…” and ends with these words on page 431 with these words, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.” Gal 1:1-9, 3:1-5, 10-11, 23-28, 5:1, 13,19-26, 6:18
Galatians 1:6-9 (NIV) 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
Galatians 1:11-12 (NIV) 11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
I can prove to you “my ministry is genuine.” Just look at my prior life. Paul’s ministry is from above. It is not a “manmade” Gospel. He and his message are authentic and the proof is His life before coming to faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul was passionate to destroy the Christ’s church until…
Galatians 1:15-16 (NIV) 15 “God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man,
His life in Christ was not anything he expected. But Paul’s prior life verifies the authenticity of his faith and new life in Christ.
Gal. 1:23-24 (NIV) They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.
What else can explain the 180-degree turn-around of Paul’s life!?!? Nothing except grace and faith. As you read through Galatians, their “issues” become the opportunity for the Apostle to address some deep theological concepts from which come some of the greatest expressions of the Gospel:
Galatians 3:1-5 (NIV) 1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4 Have you suffered so much for nothing–if it really was for nothing? 5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
I am so glad for this letter. Our life in Christ will ever only be a matter of faith, not our ability to keep the law.
Galatians 3:23-28 (NIV) 23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. 26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Now that faith has arrived, it is as if the doors of the prison we were in, are open and we are free.
Galatians 5:1 (NIV) 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.
Freed by our faith in Jesus. Freed we are no longer slaves to the LAW.
Galatians 5:13 (NIV) You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
But our freedom is not a license to sin…
Galatians 5:19-26 (NIV) 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Our Freedom is to walk away from our old lives, under the law, and to live a new life under the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Gracious God our Father, how foolish we are whenever we are tempted to think that it is our own goodness that makes us “fit” to be Your children. Help us, Holy Spirit, to crucify our old sinful self each day, with its passions and desires, that we may live in the freedom of our faith, empowered to live by Your presence in us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.