Traveling Inward to Come Out: Part 8

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I want to spend my last couple of blogs on this issue taking a close look at one of Paul’s letters. I want to examine Galatians, almost verse by verse, because I think it has much to reveal about many of the issues raised in the last couple of days.

Background

Paul wrote Galatians probably right after writing Romans.

Galatians addresses a Christian community agitated by a sect of Christians that insisted that Gentile converts to Christianity had to strictly observe Jewish law (which is why Paul spends much time discussing the practice of circumcision in chapter 6). Like the conflict in 1 Corinthians, the Galatians were dealing with a series of false teachings that were perverting the promise of the New Covenant (salvation through faith, not action). Like God’s people in Exodus 24, it seems like the church of Galatia wanted a set of rules to follow, but through this letter, Paul denounces any level of legalism being applied/tied to the covenant of faith.

(Those of you not used to reading the bible or are uncomfortable by reading it, I hope you can set aside some discomfort just this once…)

Moving forward, verses from Galatians are on the left, paraphrase, commentary and questions in the middle, any secondary verses will be listed on the right…

Primary Verses

Galatians

 

Running Commentary Secondary Verse
Galatians Chapter 1 Paul gives his salutations to the Galatians and mentions immediately his purpose for writing: Another version of the gospel contrary to the New Covenant was being taught throughout Galatia. Paul insists that such false teaching should not be followed and addresses rumors that Paul’s ministry is a people-pleasing campaign.
Galatians 1:10

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

(NLT Used Here)

Paul’s response to these accusations is basically that if he wanted to please people, he would not be spreading a Christ centered message.

 

 

Galatians Chapter 2 Paul mentions that there was a version of Christianity that maintained that circumcision was a mandatory part of Christian practice. Paul makes mention that the tension between circumcised (Jewish) and uncircumcised (Gentile) Christians was based on a needless and inaccurate distinction.
Galatians 2:16-18

Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”

But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not!

Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down.

(NLT Used Here)

In verse 16-18, Paul points out that a person is justified by faith, not through the adherence to the law. If one attempts to be justified by the law then they must follow all of it, and can’t have broken any part of it (which is impossible).

 

Instead, if one seeks justification through faith (the condition of the heart), Christ is our justification.

 

He points out that Christ does not lead us into sin by breaking our accountability with the law. Instead he frees us from it.

 

More to the point, Paul says, It would be a sin to try and re-instate the accountability of the law that Christ broke down.

 

Galatians 2:20

 

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

 

(NLT Used Here)

This verse is not meant to be interpreted as mysticism or magic, but hints at what the bond of Christianity really is, the condition of the heart (Because we have devoted our hearts to Christ, Christ will instruct us on how to act according to his will. We don’t need legalism to guide us. Which is why Christ says love is the greatest commandment ) James 2:14-26

It should be pointed out that at the same time, a faith without listening to the will of God is useless… but this also means, verse 16/ taking action when someone is in need… not just praying for them…

Galatians 2:21

 

I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

(NLT Used Here)

 

This is an important point, one that is often softened because most Christians want/need to hold on to a level of evaluation/justification based on morality/legalism… yet, the relationship one has with Christ eliminates that need.

 

Galatians Chapter 3 This chapter targets the foolishness of turning back to the justification of the law.
Galatians 3:3

 

How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

 

(NLT Used Here)

 

Paul reemphasizes the idea that it is not what we do or don’t do that validates our salvation… that it is literally impossible to become perfect by our own human effort.

 

We need to allow ourselves to understand that what we do is worthy of death, but are saved by grace. If we accept this for ourselves, we need to accept that this is the same way other people are justified… especially people we don’t understand/ fear…

Galatians 3:6

 

In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”

(NLT Used Here)

 

Paul uses Abraham as an example of someone who believed in God and had a relationship with him based on heart/faith, not one based on the adherence to the law.

 

Galatians 3:10

 

But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.”

(NLT Used Here)

 

Paul warns us that if we want to depend on the law to make ourselves right with God, then we must follow and observe everything written in that law. Likewise, if we want to discount others based on their lack of adherence to the law, then we are bound to the full letter of the law ourselves.

Galatians 3:11

 

So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

(NLT Used Here)

Paul pushes the point again that no one can make themselves right with God by trying to keep the law… and by pointing this out, he insists that because this is a futile effort, it should not be our goal.

 

What Paul is insisting that Christians should do is build a relationship with Christ that relies on Him to lead them in the path of righteousness instead of using the guidance of the law toward the ill-fated goal of perfection… In many ways this is harder because a relationship requires a genuine heart and genuine trust.

Galatians 3:18

 

For if the inheritance could be received by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God’s promise. But God graciously gave it to Abraham as a promise.

(NLT Used Here)

 

The promise in verse 18 is Christ, which means our freedom from the worry of attempting perfection. It allows us to open up ourselves and focus on the condition of our heart, instead of the acts (good or bad) that we do.

The flip side of this is, we need to be vulnerable and accepting of God’s guidance. But, at the same time, this means that if our heart is in the right place and we are doing something contrary to his will, He will reveal it to us in His timing.

 

We should encourage others to build this genuine relationship with God instead of condemn them by their actions. If we really trust in God’s revelation above our own, our message to non-believers will always be one of love, not condemnation… Because God is the one that does the changing, and he changes people through their hearts first, not their actions.

Galatians 3:23-4

 

Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.

Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.

(NLT Used Here)

 

Paul explains that the law was used to keep his people safe until his promise could be fulfilled. It was a safeguard against corruption and death. locked up- kept safe until Christ

 

Galatians 3:25

 

And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.

(NLT Used Here)

But now that Christ has fulfilled that promise, we are set free from that safeguard, and we are expected to not go back into the box.

 

Romans 12:2-3 Many like to use Romans 12:2 to insist that Christians should live by a higher moral standard and therefore use it in defense of a legalistic interpretation of the bible… but that’s a distraction. Christ calls us to not think like the world, seeking rules, money, outward righteousness along with not having a disregard for doing what is right.
Galatians 3:28

 

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(NLT Used Here)

I believe that this verse says it all. Christ has eliminated the need for a division between Jew and Gentile, freeman and slave, and male and female. Within the context of what Paul is saying throughout Galatians, within the context of the core teachings of the New Testament, and using a literal interpretation of the words that Paul uses here, there is no dancing around the freedom that Paul expresses here.

 

Verse 28 eliminates the division between races. It eliminates the division between genders.

And If there is no male or female, then quite literally, this verse eliminates the division between hetero and homosexuality. 

 

If there is no gender, a person’s natural and committed love for another person, ANY other person regardless of body part, cannot be limited by the New Covenant; and likewise, their marriage…

 

I hope today was helpful; and I hope you continue to think and pray about these verses and what they mean for your daily life.

Tomorrow we will pick up with Chapter 4.

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