THE BOOK OF GALATIANS
THE BOOK OF GALATIANS Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
One of the main emphases of the Book of Galatians is that of the transition from the Law of Moses to the new covenant. Apparently there was pressure on Paul from his fellow apostles and others who would profess faith in Christ and yet return to part or all of the Law. This problem has not been fully resolved to the present day.
Table of Contents
THE BOOK OF GALATIANS
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Paul, an apostlesent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead And all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia: (Galatians 1:1,2)
The meaning of the term "apostle" is "someone who is sent." Why do you think Paul stressed that he was not sent by man but by Jesus Christ and God the Father? Perhaps because the Book of Galatians contains a strong argument against those who were not positive that we who look to Christ for salvation are totally free from the Law of Moses.
It is necessary there be apostles in every generation. Otherwise traditions accumulate quickly and the original message of Christ is soon distorted. Such distortion certainly has occurred in our day!
Someone must hear directly from the Lord and bring Christian thinking back on course.
Christian thinking cannot be brought back on course by someone who understands the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic languages and has read all the major commentaries, unless the Lord reveals the meaning of the text. There has to be at least one individual who is hearing from the Author, from Christ Himself. There apparently was some confusion among the Apostles concerning the role of the Law of Moses in the new covenant. The Lord Jesus drew Paul aside and explained the transition to him.
I think this is why Paul emphasized the fact that he was not sent from man but from Christ Himself.
"Jesus Christ and God the Father." It is not unusual in the New Testament for this distinction of Personages to be made. The Christian thinking of today seems to lean too far toward the idea that Christ and the Father are the same Person in different manifestations. The Scripture does not bear this out. This is the sort of distortion I am referring todistortion resulting from an accumulation of traditional thinking.
"And all the brothers with me." Paul always seemed to have one or more believers traveling with him.
"To the churches in Galatia." Paul is not writing to the unsaved but to the saved people of Galatia. There are passages in the Epistles that tell us we can die spiritually, or not inherit the Kingdom of God, if we do not turn away from our sinful nature and live righteously. When we come to these passages we apply them to the unsaved.
For example: "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life." Do you know, this statement is preached to the unsaved? Yet the context reveals clearly that it is the saints in Rome who will die spiritually if they choose to serve their sinful nature. Another distortion.
"To the churches in Galatia." Let us keep this salutation in mind because in this epistle there are strong exhortations to righteous behavior, which are directed to the saints in Galatia, not to the unconverted.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, (Galatians 1:3)
Grace is Gods Presence in Jesus Christ providing every resource we need to fulfill Gods will concerning us. Peace is the cry of the world today, but there is no lasting peace outside of Him who is Divine Peace itself.
Who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, (Galatians 1:4)
Notice that the purpose of the atonement made on the cross is to "rescue us from the present evil age." This is not what is preached today. The emphasis in our time is that the purpose of the atonement is to forgive our sins so we might have the right to enter Heaven when we die. Actually, the purpose of the atonement is to forgive and then destroy the sinful nature in us so we will not be condemned along with the present evil age.
To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:5)
I believe the Antecedent here is God the Father. Every act of the Lord Jesus Christ is to bring glory to His and our Father in Heaven. In the same manner, every act of ours should serve to bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you." (John 17:1)
When we bring glory to the Son, the Son glorifies the Father.
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 (Galatians 1:6)
Paul was so certain he had made the Gospel clear to the believers in Galatia that he was astonished they would leave him in favor of another teacher. A little leaven permeates the whole ball of dough. How quickly believers are led astray by those who worship their own belly, when these "wolves" introduce their special doctrines.
Which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:7)
From the text of the Book of Galatians we understand there were teachers who were seeking to persuade the believers in Galatia that to be saved they must be circumcised and keep the statutes of the Law of Moses.
The explanation of the transition from the Law to the new covenant is at once simple and complicated. It is simple because we can say truthfully that once we count ourselves as crucified with Christ we are not under any part of the Law of Moses whatever.
It is complicated in that it leaves the question of the definition of sin unanswered. We are not under any part of the Law. Fine. So are we free to commit adultery? If not, why not? How is sin defined under the new covenant?
I dont believe there is any greater area of confusion in Christian thinking than that of what is sin under the new covenant.
The Law of Moses defines sin under the old covenant. The Holy Spirit and the New Testament define sin under the new covenant. Under the old covenant we are forbidden to commit adultery. Under the new covenant, the Holy Spirit and the New Testament forbid us to commit adultery.
Since being able to follow the Spirit as He deals with our sinful nature is not easy (it is the sons of God, not the children, who are led by the Spirit), the writers of the New Testament have given us guidelines to follow. The numerous commandments found in the New Testament are just thatguidelines we are to follow until we are mature enough to follow the Holy Spirit without being deceived by Satan. Our behavior is to be controlled by what we read in the New Testament.
The teaching of today states that because we are under grace, we are not obligated to keep the commandments given by the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles. This teaching is totally destructive. Since the Christian people, by and large, are not mature enough to know the voice of the Spirit of God (although they may believe they are), if we tell them they are not required to keep the commandments issued by the Lord Jesus and His Apostles they will live according to their sinful nature. They do not know what is good and what is evil.
This is where we are in America. The Christians do not know is righteous and what is not; what is accepted by the Lord and what is not. Moral confusion reigns.
Numerous believers yield to their sinful nature, believing there are no harmful consequences because they are "saved by grace." The Apostle Paul warned us clearly that if we yield to our sinful nature we shall reap destruction. Yet we go on our merry way, believing somehow the New Testament does not mean what it says.
There are some among us who are returning to the Law of Moses. Why is this? It is because most Christian teaching offers no plan for growth in righteousness, and people have a hunger for righteousness. They can find substance in the Law that they cannot gain from the current grace-rapture-Heaven delusion.
However, the Law of Moses does not contain the Divine grace needed to destroy the sinful nature of man. The new covenant does contain such grace. This is the principal difference between the two covenants, because forgiveness of sin was possible under the old covenant through the blood of animals. Forgiveness of sin is possible also under the new covenant through the blood of Jesus Christ.
So both covenants provide forgiveness. But only the new covenant furnishes the Divine grace needed to destroy the sinful nature.
The destruction of the sinful nature is not preached commonly, but it shall be as time goes on. We are entering the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement has begun and it shall last through to the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Millennium). It is the reconciliation of man to God and God to man. This is not merely a legal forgiveness of sins, but an actual reconciliation brought about by the destruction of the sinful nature and the entrance of God through the Spirit into people.
Since the explanation of the transition from the Law of Moses is at once simple and complicated (we find references to the Law in First John and the Book of James), it is not surprising that teachers of the Law were able to confuse the saints in Galatia.
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! 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 1:8,9)
The Gospel Paul preached does not present Divine grace as an alternative to righteous behavior.
The Gospel Paul preached does not present a "pre-tribulation rapture" to escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation.
The Gospel Paul preached does not point toward eternal residence in Heaven as the goal of redemption.
The Gospel Paul preached does not tell us anyone who makes a profession of faith in Christ will not hear anything negative at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The Gospel Paul preached does not promise the believer that once he has made a profession of faith in Christ his name never can be blotted from the Book of Life.
The Gospel Paul preached does not tell us if we have faith we will never suffer or have any other problems.
The Gospel Paul preached does not speak of a "Gentile Church," only of the one cultivated Olive Tree.
The Gospel Paul preached does not speak of a new dispensation with a goal different from the time-honored "practice of righteousness, love of mercy, and a humble walk with God."
The Gospel Paul preached does not advise us that the sign of the blessing of God is material wealth.
The Gospel Paul preached does not speak of salvation "by faith alone" but insists the work of redemption brings forth a new creation of righteous behavior.
The Gospel Paul preached does not define "the righteous shall live by faith" as meaning we are to maintain our theological position without reference to our behavior.
The Gospel Paul preached speaks of bearing the fruit of Christs moral image through many years of patient cross-carrying obedience.
The Gospel Paul preached speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ coming with His victorious saints to establish with violence the Kingdom of God on the earth.
What has happened to the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God? I personally believe it is time for a reformation of Christian thinking.
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
You know, if we are going to do anything worthwhile for the Lord we will have to be free from the fear of the opinion of people. The fear of man brings a snare, the Bible says. Sometimes we have to be an "Antipas" (against all).
Think of the people of faith of the Bible, and you will see they were not always popular. Sometimes their testimony brought them into painful situations, as we read concerning the Apostle Paul, and also concerning the heroes of faith of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.
There might be 300 prophets in the palace of the King of Israel, all prophesying out of their own spirit. Sometimes there would be only one true prophetand he would not be living in the Kings palace!
So it is today. We are apt to view ministers with a large following as being the only true servants of the Lord, yet in our heart we must know better than this! How often in the Bible was the Lord revealed by a multitude of people?
Consider the situation in which the Apostle Paul had been placed. Many teachers and preachers were tempted to draw back to the Law of Moses. In our day it is difficult to imagine how highly the Law was esteemed at that time. To declare we no longer are obligated to be circumcised, or to observe the Ten Commandments was contrary to the deepest instincts of influential people. In fact, it appears some of the apostles of Christ were wavering.
If the Apostle Paul had sought to win the approval of men, rather than the approval of God, the letters Paul wrote to the churches would not be the inspired Word of God.
The same is true today. If we vary as much as one hairsbreadth from what God tells us to say and do, in an attempt to please people, we will have been found false witnesses of God. Other people will suffer because of our faithlessness.
Thank God for Paul! Because he stood his ground, refusing to return to any part of the Law of Moses, we have the clear logic of the Book of Galatians. May we be just as faithful, choosing to win the approval of God rather than the approval of men.
I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11,12)
I realize most of us do not have many revelations from Jesus Christmaybe two or three in our entire lifetime. But I do believe in each generation there are those who hear from Christ.
It seems to me that most Christian work is done without a clear understanding of the will of Christ. Over fifty years ago, just after leaving Bible school, I was brought to a decision. I had heard during the previous three years that we were supposed to "go out and save souls." In fact, I had heard that exhortation ever since I became a Christian. "We are saved to save others." I wonder what bible contains that verse!
I had promised God, while in Bible school, that I would obey Him no matter what He asked, if He would give me the grace to do so. I was not married at the time, my mother was deceased, my father was an alcoholic, and I have no brothers or sisters. So I was pretty much alone in the world and did not care particularly where God sent me or what He wanted me to do.
Right after leaving Bible school I married Audrey and now was faced with what to do with my life. Ill tell you, this was no small struggle in my mind. Was I to make every effort to go out and "tell others about Christ," or was I to pray and wait to find out what God wanted.
I reasoned that if I did not wait to find out what God wanted, and attempted to satisfy everyone elses opinion, I would not be my own man. So I made a lifetime commitment to do only what I felt Christ wanted me to do. This remains my commitment to the present moment.
If the whole world goes to Hell it goes to Hell. I am not going to take my eyes off Jesus and work according to my fleshly reasoning or according to anyone elses opinion.
God has been good to me. I have been pastoring a church for nearly 27 years (which I had no intention of doing) and have an extensive ministry on the Internet as well as with books, booklets, and audio and video tapes. All of this without really trying, just following the Lord.
If I am not mistaken, the history of the Christian churches has been largely that of man-directed activities, although there have been notable exceptions.
I know there have been marvelous saints in the Catholic churches. But no one can convince me that the Catholic Church was following Christ when it murdered those who disagreed with it.
There have been marvelous saints in the Protestant churches, but the competing denominations are proof man is at the helm.
One example of the leadership of man is the idea that all believers are supposed to fulfill the Great Commission. The Great Commission was given to eleven men who were apostles, meaning they were sent from Christ on a mission. Are all Christians apostles? This is ridiculous! It is true rather that the Holy Spirit has given varying ministries and gifts to the members of the Body of Christ. They are not all apostles. This pressure reveals mans thinking, not Gods thinking.
To make matters worse, we are told that the Great Commission means every believer is to go out and get other people saved. The truth is, the Great Commission is given to apostles whom Christ has chosen to go forth and make disciples, teaching them to keep Christs commandments. The teaching today is that we are saved by grace and are not required to keep Christs commandments. This is why the churches have so many immature members. No one is teaching them how to keep the many commandments issued by Jesus Christ and His Apostles.
It is my opinion that in the future, various pressures will force a division in the ranks of Christendom worldwide. I think the majority of believers will become part of the great babylonish religious system. A minority may be called out of institutionalized Christianity and forced to flee for their lives to a remote area of the earth. How else will there ever be a Bride without spot or wrinkle?
My thought is that the majority, the members of religious institutions, will be quite orthodox in their beliefs and practices. This is why so many will be deceived, thinking that if they are sound theologically there is nothing further needed.. But the Holy Spirit will not be present, and the immature Christians will not be aware of the absence of the Spirit. They have elected to serve Christ in their own wisdom and strength, so the Holy Spirit will not be missed. They are not aware the Holy Spirit is not with them now, and they will not be aware the Holy Spirit is not with them then.
The Apostle Paul did not receive his understanding, particularly his understanding of the transition from Moses to Christ, from any human being. Rather, this learned rabbi was told what to teach by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now Paul proceeds to tell us how deeply he was involved in Judaism.
For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. (Galatians 1:13)
Christ could have revealed Himself to Paul before Paul persecuted so many Christians. Have you ever thought of that? The Lord is very wise in what He does. He knew how greatly the memory of what he had done would weigh on Paul. My opinion is that it was this memory that caused Paul to regard himself as the chief of sinners.
Given the tremendous experience with Christ which Paul had, it would have been a temptation for Paul to regard himself too highly. The memory of guarding the clothes of those who stoned Stephen would prevent that.
God does this sort of thing with us sometimes. We may be following a wrong path without realizing it, meanwhile praying and serving God as far as we know. Then the Lord shows us that what we are doing is not of Him. How embarrassing this is! But it shows us that salvation is of the Lord, not of our dedication to His will no matter how sincere.
I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. (Galatians 1:14)
The above verse reveals Pauls personality. Paul was intelligent and ambitious. He was a learned Pharisee, having been taught by no less a rabbi than Gamaliel. Christ saw in Paul a man of integrity who would be faithful to the Gospel no matter what the cost to himself.
But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased To reveal his Son in me so I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. (Galatians 1:15-17)
Now here is an interesting fact. God set Paul apart from the time of his birth, and later called him to be an apostle through a miraculous intervention, but did not stop him from persecuting Christians in the meantime. Sometimes we do not understand God, but we trust Him.
God was pleased to reveal His Son in Paul. It simply is not enough to use our ministry or gift. We should use our gifts, of course. But hopefully the time will come when we are not merely using a gift of the Spirit but actually are revealing Christ to other people.
When his call came, it appears Paul went into Arabia to seek the Lord. No doubt it was during this time of reflection that God revealed to Paul the truths that do not appear so clearly in the writings of the other Apostles, such as:
Christ has a Body.
It is Gods will that Christ be not only with us but in us.
We no longer are under the authority of the Law of Moses.
Unlike the Law of Moses, the new covenant contains the Divine grace needed to put to death our sinful nature.
We are to count ourselves crucified, resurrected, and ascended with Christ.
The righteousness of Christ is applied to us when we turn aside from our sinful nature and obey the law of the Spirit of life.
At His coming the Commander in Chief is going to call up His warriors to Himself in preparation for the calvary charge of Armageddon.
God is building an eternal house for Himself; God has made the Jews and Gentiles one new Man by means of the cross of Calvary.
The Spirit of God gives gifts and ministries to the members of the Body of Christ.
These gifts and ministries are for the purpose of building each of the saints to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Those of us who have received Christ as our Lord and Savior are already at the right hand of God in Christ.
Paul did not learn his doctrine by conferring with those who had been in Christ before Him. He received the truth of Christ from Christ Himself.
It is a never ending source of amazement to me that God would entrust one person with the basic truths of the new covenant.
Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostlesonly James, the Lords brother. (Galatians 1:18,19)
I suppose Paul always suffered in one manner or another because he was not one of the original Twelve. It is interesting that God did not entrust one of the Twelve with the great truths of the new covenant, but an individual who had in the beginning treated the believers harshly, being determined to stamp out the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. God has His ways, doesnt He?
It must have been difficult for Peter to see how Christ had chosen an educated man to explain the new covenant, an individual who was not one of the original disciples. Every one of us must accept the fact that God uses whomever He will, exalting whomever He will, no matter how hard we have worked.
Paul does state a deacon who serves well gains an "excellent standing and great assurance" in his faith in Christ. But rank in the Kingdom of God is by Divine choice. All we are required to do is to grasp that for which we have been grasped by the Lord. To come short of this is to incur the displeasure of the Lord. To try to go beyond our calling is to exhibit an unhealthy ambition, and will not bring rest and peace in the Lord.
I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. (Galatians 1:20)
Why would Paul defend himself like this? Probably because his teaching that we no longer are under the authority of the Law of Moses was being contested.
Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: "The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." And they praised God because of me. (Galatians 1:21-24)
There is a great lesson here for us, and I think pastors learn this. There may be an individual who it seems is depraved, wicked, beyond redemption. Then the master touches him or her. A revolution occurs. The person is transformed and begins to serve the Lord.
The reverse also may take place. A person who has been actively supporting the church will turn against the ministry and begin to slander it.
There are less dramatic cases in which a casual believer suddenly takes hold and becomes fervent; or a fervent believer becomes casual or even falls away.
I cannot account for these changes. But I do know we must be patient with everyone as each individual works out his or her own salvation.
It really is true that the Word of the Kingdom is more like a seed than it is an ordinary written or spoken expression. You cant always tell how, or even if, it is going to grow. This is why counting the people who "accept Christ" does not produce significant data.
One person who was designated as having accepted Christ never did end up serving the Lord. Someone else who walked out the door in apparent disgust became a flaming evangelist. Our job is to faithfully give the Word, in season and out of season. God is the only One who can give the increase.
We praise God every time someone who has been opposing the Gospel turns and becomes a productive saint.
Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. (Galatians 2:1,2)
Several times in the Book of Acts we see that the work of the ministry was conducted in terms of the specific leading of the Lord. From my point of view, such specific leading is needed today more than ever. There are numerous programs and efforts designed to spread the Gospel. But how many of these leaders are hearing from the Lord, and how many are just doing what they think is best and scriptural?
For myself, I am not interested in involving myself in a program just because someone thinks it is a good idea. I want to hear from God!
Apparently when Paul went to Jerusalem he consulted with the other Apostles, checking to see if what Christ had shown him agreed with their understanding. This reveals that Paul was a temperate man, seeking to avoid running ahead in a reckless manner. The church in Jerusalem consisted of thousands of Christian Jews, all keeping the Law of Moses. I believe James, the brother of Jesus, was the pastor of this large congregation.
Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. (Galatians 2:3,4)
The Jews were insistent concerning the rite of circumcision. Paul certainly had his work cut out for him as he sought to convince the Jewish Christians that we no longer are under the Law of Moses. Some believers are confused about this issue to the present day.
We did not give in to them for a moment, so the truth of the gospel might remain with you. (Galatians 2:5)
Many of the statements found in the Book of Romans and the Book of Galatians are arguments against those who were not certain we should abandon the Law altogether. This has caused no little confusion on the part of Gentiles who read some of Pauls statements without recognizing to whom and why he was writing as he did.
The classic confusion has to do with Pauls use of the term "works." Paul claims we are not saved by "works." We Gentiles have interpreted this to mean we are not saved by behaving righteously. Building on this idea we have developed the doctrine that we are saved (meaning eligible for eternal residence in Heaven, which is another point of confusion) by a sovereign action of God unrelated to our behavior. We are saved by "faith alone." We are going to live for eternity in Heaven among the angels because of our profession of belief in Christ apart from any change in our personality.
Yet we can see there is a problem here, in that Paul wrote to the Christians in Galatia that if we continue to live according to our sinful nature we will not inherit the Kingdom of God; we will reap destruction.
I cannot understand why devout scholars have not picked up on this inconsistency.
The problem arises because when Paul contrasted faith and works, or grace and works, he was addressing Jews who were struggling over the role of the works of the Law of Moses. Paul was not speaking about righteous behavior such as: moral cleanliness; a loving, kind disposition; a merciful character; truthfulness, faithfulness; integrity; honor; and honesty. Paul would never, never, never contrast faith and grace with godly behavior. Godly, righteous behavior is the very life, the essence of salvation.
We have been saved that we might do good works, according to Ephesians 2:10. We are to be zealous of good works, living self-controlled, upright, and godly lives, according to Pauls words to Titus. When Paul spoke to Felix he reasoned with him about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come. Paul did not speak about a sovereign grace unrelated to our behavior!
The devout Jew was earning righteousness by keeping the Law of Moses. This is what Paul meant by "not by works of righteousness we have done." Paul did not mean we are found to be righteous by a Gnostic kind of belief unrelated to our behavior. True salvation always results in fruit. That fruit is the moral image of Christ. This is the harvest which the Farmer, God, is waiting for.
When our Christian faith does not produce the moral image of Jesus Christ, it is not true faith. It is nothing more than membership in a religion.
If any person is in Christ there is a moral transformation. The old things of the sinful nature are passing away. The new things of Christ are being formed in the personality. The result is a human being in the image of God.
When our salvation consists of belief only, of "faith alone," we have been deluded by a false impression arising from our misunderstanding of the basis for Pauls statements. Paul never taught people that salvation operates independently of our behavior; rather he taught Jews, and those influenced by Jews, that we cannot earn salvation by keeping the Law of Moses.
To derive from the early chapters of the Book of Romans that it is not necessary Christians grow in godly character is to make Pauls statements in several of His epistles of no effect. It is growth in godly character that is in fact salvation (salvation from the chains of sin).
For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy personsuch a man is an idolaterhas any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5)
The statement above was written to "the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus."
Why would Paul write such a thing to them if it did not apply to them?
The meaning is, "No immoral Christian has any inheritance in the Kingdom of God."
Paul says the same thing in the Book of Galatians, as we shall see a little later.
Whether or not they have realized it, the Christian churches all these years have been waiting for the Day of Redemptionthe time when the Lord is ready to remove sin from His people, for it is not possible that sin can remain in the Kingdom of God. That period of redemption has begun, and this is why we can understand the Scriptures more clearly than has been true in the past.
As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (Matthew 13:40,41)
The above is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement, and it has begun and will continue throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Millennium). Ask the Lord Jesus about this.
As for those who seemed to be importantwhatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearancethose men added nothing to my message. (Galatians 2:6)
If we are going to declare what God is doing today we will have to be courteous and respectful, but not at all moved from the truth by distinguished scholars or other Christian leaders. Perhaps some of us are not accustomed to being misunderstood or rejected. Well, it shall happen. What God is showing us today may prove to be very unsettling to the established ministry.
Put yourself in Pauls place. How do you think he felt when the established ministry looked at him suspiciously, especially when he was not one of the Twelve?
The great ones had a conference concerning the Gentiles. This is what they came up with:
It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. (Acts 15:19,20).
This is the best the distinguished gentlemen could come up with. Compare this with the riches of doctrine God gave Paul for the Gentiles. So much for committees. I dont think God works with committees. He chooses individuals, or so it seems to me.
Paul had to face these people and try to tell them about the Body of Christ; how Christ was to be formed in them; about the eternal house of God; about the one new Man. Especially about how the Spirit of God has replaced the Law of Moses.
No wonder Peter said Paul wrote about things "hard to understand." The old fisherman recognized the Word of Christ when he heard it or read it, but he may not have understood all of it.
How about you and me? Do we have what it takes to be an "Antipas," to be against all? Are we willing to declare what the Spirit is saying to the churches today even though it causes us to be rejected? If we are not, then we do not belong with Gods prophets, for they usually are rejected if not murdered!
My hope is that in our day there will be a tremendous uprising of people who are hearing what Christ is saying to His people; who will hear the word of righteousness and begin to lead true Christian lives. If such an uprising occurs in America it might save our nation from destruction.
On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. (Galatians 2:7)
The leaders were good men and true. They added nothing to the message of Paul because they had not been entrusted with the revelation of the new covenant. But they recognized Gods hand on Paul as a minister to the Gentiles just as Gods hand was on Peter as a minister of Christ to the Jews.
For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. (Galatians 2:8)
Each one of us has been given a specific charge. We are not to thrash about blindly. We are to walk carefully and prayerfully before the Lord until we know where God wants us and what He wants us to do. We are to commit our way to the Lord and not lean on our own understanding. Then He shall direct our paths.
James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. (Galatians 2:9,10)
James, Peter, and John, pillars of the church at Jerusalem, may not have recognized Pauls doctrine, but they did recognize the Divine grace that was upon him. And you know, true Christian unity does not come from agreement on points of doctrine but comes when we recognize that the grace of God is on someone else.
Paul did as they asked and took up collections for poor believers. It is the responsibility of each Christian church to keep aware of those in the midst who have financial needs, and also to reach out to Christian believers in other cultures who are impoverished. God will help us do this and bless us when we are generous.
When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. (Galatians 2:11)
It is said Peter was the first pope. Can you imagine the Apostle Paul opposing the first pope?
But the fisherman was wrong because he was separating himself from the Gentile believers. Yet it was Peter who was willing to obey the Lord by going to the home of Cornelius. This was a difficult time of transition for Jewish believers, because all their lives they had been taught to keep themselves from being defiled by contact with Gentiles.
We must never forget that the Jews are the only nation God has called His own people. It is true that not all Jews are chosen of God. Paul teaches us this. Nevertheless, ours is a Jewish salvation. There is a holiness present in the Jewish race that never has and never shall be true of Gentiles.
There is nothing in our history as Gentiles that compares with the events that took place in the history of Israel. The sun standing still, for example. We Gentiles are proud, it is true. But our pride is founded on nothing but our imaginations. We have been grafted onto an olive tree whose roots are in Abraham and Sarah, and their descendants.
There is a holiness, a closeness to God, that always will be true of the Jewish race and the land of Israel. One day, in Gods time, He will make it clear to us that the new covenant is made only with Israel. We can come under the new covenant only by becoming part of Christ. This is true also of the physical Jew. Thus there is one new Man in Christ, made one by the blood of the cross.
But the holiness of Israel remains. In the future, if we are true to Christ, we will become an integral part of that which always is of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If we live as victorious saints we will find ourselves among the princes of Judah.
The Gentile tree is unclean. There is no such entity as a Gentile church. If there were, it would be unclean. Only Christ and those who are of Him are part of the cultivated Olive Tree. I realize this is not clear to many of us in the present hour, but it shall be made clear in the future.
Our Bible is Jewish. Our Apostles are Jewish. Our city is the new Jerusalem. Our Savior and Lord was born of a Jewish mother and raised in a Jewish household.
When we forget these facts we are vain in our imaginations and ungrateful. God has not forgotten and never shall forget His chosen race. The whole house of Israel shall be redeemed in the days to come, for they are the family of God.
Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. (Galatians 2:12,13)
James, the Lords brother, was the pastor of five thousand or more Christian Jews, all fervently keeping the Law of Moses. Orthodox Jews can be violenteven to the present day in Jerusalem. They caused Peter to be afraid and he separated himself from the Gentile Christians. Other Jewish Christians, including Barnabas, a Levite, followed Peter.
When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? (Galatians 2:14)
What a thing to say to the first pope! Peter was a bold, impetuous person. He ran past John into the tomb, after John outran him and stopped at the tomb. At the time described here in the Book of Galatians, Peter was growing in the Lord. Yet his lifelong training as a Jew made it difficult for him to depart entirely from the Law of Moses.
Paul was able to make a clean break because of what the Lord had shown him in Arabia. The other Apostles did not have this advantage.
We who are Jews by birth and not "Gentile sinners" know a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:15,16)
Can you see that when the Apostle Paul spoke of being justified by faith instead of by works, he meant the works of the Law of Moses? Paul would never teach, as we do today, that salvation by grace through faith has nothing to do with how we behave.
Pauls struggle in Romans and Galatians was with people who thought they could be saved by obeying the Law of Moses, not people who thought they could be saved by behaving righteously.
Our misunderstanding along this line has made the grace of God an excuse for sin. We have turned the grace of God into a license for immorality, as Jude protested. Thus we are godless!
Of course, we do not earn salvation by behaving righteously. But true salvation always results in righteous behavior. It is the righteous behavior itself, when it proceeds from faith in Christ and obedience to the Spirit of God, that is salvation. Salvation is not a ticket to Heaven. Salvation is deliverance from all that is of Satan.
We are saved from Satan and brought to God. This is salvation.
If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! (Galatians 2:17)
A good question. An excellent question! How about today. If the believers are sinning, does that mean Christ promotes sin? Does it mean Divine grace promotes sin? Does it mean faith in Jesus Christ promotes sin?
One would think so from examining the behavior of those who profess to be Christians.
We Christians are not known for our godly behavior, not in America or in any other country. We should be, but we are not. The Muslims can point to American Christians, or to the Jews, for that matter, and accuse us of immorality.
No matter how vile we think the Palestinians are for sending out young people as suicide bombers, we are in a glass house. What are our young people doing?
There is at this time an awakening on the part of Christian young people in America. But the example of many of their parents, plus the unscriptural teaching they are hearing from the pulpit, may not reinforce their interest in Jesus Christ.
One time years ago I taught a group of hippies. They had come to Christ after years of drugs, immorality, and rock music. They were utterly sincere. They had rejected their parents because of the hypocrisy and shallowness of their parents and other leaders they had known. They wanted something real.
When I said something they wanted to know where that was in the Bible. Do you think their parents would ask that question?
This was a home Bible study. I did not invite them to the church I was attending on Sundays because I knew these young people would see the hypocrisy there. They would have been rejected in any case because of their sandals and Indian headbands. They were better off in the house they were staying in, playing their guitars and worshiping the Lord in Spirit and in truth.
If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. For through the law I died to the law so I might live for God. (Galatians 2:18,19)
If Paul returned to the ways of his sinful nature, he would be judged as one who breaks the Law of Moses.
But I thought we no longer are under the Law of Moses.
We are free from the Law of Moses only as long as we have taken our place with Christ on the cross and now are walking in newness of life in the Spirit of God.
If instead of choosing to be the slave of righteousness we return to our sinful nature, then the Law of Moses has jurisdiction over us
Paul died to the Law of Moses by counting himself crucified with Christ. The old Paul was dead. The new Paul lived for God by following the Holy Spirit into the crucifixion of the sinful nature.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
It is true that Paul had left the Law of Moses. But Paul was not a lawbreaker, because he had crucified his sinful nature and was following the Holy Spirit of God each day in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God.
So it is today. If we say that we no longer are under the Law of Moses, then someone might wish to know what law we are under. We are under the law of the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ. Each day the Spirit leads us into victory over sin.
Now, if we are not following the Holy Spirit each day, then the righteousness of Christ no longer is imputed to us. We are nothing more than a sinner, a lawbreaker, and are under condemnation.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
The above is one of the most significant passages of the Bible.
The above is the answer to the question concerning the relationship of the Christian to the Law of Moses.
Today we say "We are not under law but under grace." By this we mean it is not critically important how we behave because we are "saved by grace."
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! (Romans 6:14,15)
Are Christians free to sin because they are under grace, or are they not? How important is it that we gain victory over sin? Is victory over sin just a "nice" thing to do, or does God actually judge us when we sin? An important question, isnt it?
We will find a little later on in the Book of Galatians that it indeed is important for a believer to gain victory over his sinful nature because if he continues to yield to it he will destroy himself.
The answer to the question of law versus grace is found in Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
"I have been crucified with Christ."
"I no longer live."
"Christ lives in me."
"The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
We are free from the Law of Moses provided the above is our testimony.
We have declared ourselves crucified with Christ. This means by faith we have placed our entire first personality on the cross with Jesus Christ.
We no longer live. We do not yield to our sinful nature.
Christ lives in us. Not only is the Holy Spirit killing our sinful nature, He also is forming Christ in us.
I now live by faith in the Son of God.
How many Christians of your acquaintance are living like this? These are the true Christians, and they are free from the Law of Moses. They are under another law, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
How about the multitude of members of the Christian religion who do not have this testimony; who are not pressing forward in Christ each day?
They are condemned by the Law of Moses because they have not counted themselves dead on the cross with Jesus Christ. They yield to their sinful nature, believing they are "saved by grace" and so it doesnt matter. They are being taught that Christ was crucified on their behalf so they do not need to worry about their sinning.
Therefore, because they have been taught incorrectly, they are under condemnation because they yield to their sinful nature. God is not excusing their conduct, unless and until they confess their sins and turn away from them.
Thus we have sinning believers in America, and our nation is heading toward Divine judgment. We have been deceived concerning the nature of the Christian salvation.
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! (Galatians 2:21)
Again we see that by "works of righteousness," which Paul mentions in other places, Paul is not referring to godly conduct but to obeying the Law of Moses, including circumcision. If we could gain righteousness by obeying the Law, Christ died for nothing.
Gods goal for mankind always is righteous, holy, obedient behavior. This goal never changes and never shall change. This is the goal under all Divine covenants, including the Law of Moses and the new covenant.
No previous covenant accomplished Gods goal to His satisfaction. So God gave us the new covenant, the Christian covenant.
Can you see how we have misunderstood the writers of the New Testament? We teach that Gods goal no longer is righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God, but faith in Christ. However, faith in Christ is not true faith if we do not obey His commandments and those of His Apostles!
True faith in Jesus Christ always results in obedience to Christ and His Apostles. How could it be otherwise? When we obey Christ and His Apostles we learn righteous, holy, obedient conduct. Furthermore through Christ we have Divine help so we can truly achieve godly behavior.
By insisting we are saved by faith alone, we destroy the equation. God is not looking for faith alone. God is looking for faith that produces righteous, holy, obedient behavior. Faith that does not include these is dead. It will not save us. We cannot be saved by a dead faith.
Faith that does not produce a change in behavior is not Bible faith. It is a mental grasp of theological knowledge. The Pharisees had this kind of "faith" and then murdered Christ. Such faith is not faith at all but adherence to the concepts of a religion.
Genuine faith walks hand in hand with the Lord Jesus, the result of which is a continual transformation into His image. How could it be otherwise?
So we are terribly deceived in America at this time. God is not going to judge America because of our belief system or lack of it. God is going to judge America because of unrighteousness, moral filth, and disobedience to His commandments in the New Testament.
Let us pray that God will raise up leaders who will turn us back to Bible-faith in the Lordfaith that insists on godly behavior on the part of Christian people. If God answers this prayer, I believe the Muslims and members of other religions will be more impressed with Christianity than they are at the present time.
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. (Galatians 3:1)
I think Paul was pointing out that our attention should be focused on the crucified Christ. Our righteousness is found in Him, not in the Law of Moses.
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? (Galatians 3:2)
Paul was addressing Spirit-filled people. In spite of the fact that the Spirit of God was in them, they still were vulnerable to those who were advocating that they return to the Law.
There has been error in our day among Spirit-filled people. The faith and imaging teachings are not scriptural. The emphasis on becoming rich is not scriptural. And then we have the "pre-tribulation rapture." But the greatest error of all is that Divine grace is Gods alternative to righteous behavior. So having the Holy Spirit does not necessarily protect us from unscriptural teaching.
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? (Galatians 3:3)
It often happens that works begun by the Spirit of God are taken over by well meaning people. It is my understanding that all the major Christian denominations of our day were begun by people who were moved by the Spirit of God.
It is not long, however, before people come into power who are not accustomed to the ways of the Spirit. They bring "success" through their knowledge of corporate practices. This transition occurs even in Pentecostal organizations, which were born in the holy fire.
I think the Ark is coming down the road today, but it is being put on a new cart instead of on the shoulders of the Levites, so to speak. It is time for the Holy Spirit once more to move on dedicated Christians who are willing to turn from the "successful" business practices and follow the Lord Jesus. We need a fresh baptism with the Holy Spirit if Gods will is to be done in our day.
New organizational plans and seminars are just not going to accomplish what Jesus has in mind. We have to hear directly from Him.
It is not by might, nor by power, but by the Lords Spirit that the work of the Kingdom moves forward.
Have you suffered so much for nothingif it really was for nothing? (Galatians 3:4)
They had been spiritual pioneers, suffering the reproach of the cross. Now they were willing to return to that which was more popular at the time. They could escape the reproach of the cross by being circumcised and obeying the Law of Moses.
There always is a reproach where the Lord is working, and there always are those who are willing to be unpopular. The Ark of His Presence is always on the move.
We think of the Anabaptists, the Puritans, the early Methodists, the Quakers, the holiness people of the nineteenth century. All of these people suffered reproach.
The Pentecostal pioneers were scorned as "holy rollers." Now we have the "Charismatics" who are Pentecostal "yuppies." They are fancy with fancy churches. The original Pentecostal people often were poor and uneducated. But they knew God.
God is ready to move past the Pentecostal experience. We are to enter the next realm of grace, which is going to require a much closer walk with Jesus than we are accustomed to. It will mean the surrender of our will to the will of God. It will require righteous, holy, obedient behavior. The days of foolishness are over.
It may be true that those who are ready to turn to God in our day will be scorned by the current crowd. Hopefully this wont happen, but it often did in the past.
There is not much reproach on speaking in tongues anymore. Many members of the historic denominations speak in tongues. The reproach is on the move past the grace-rapture-Heaven teaching to an emphasis on a deeper walk with the Lord.
Perhaps the reproach will arrive when we begin to teach that the Kingdom of God is coming to the earth. When I first started preaching the Kingdom of God there were people who wondered if I had become a Jehovahs Witness.
Yet, we pray that Gods Kingdom will come to the earth. We just dont believe it.
But it shall. There is no scriptural basis for believing the purpose of salvation is to bring us to Heaven when we die. When we are living in Jesus we already are in Heaven at the right hand of God in Christ. When the Lord returns, we will return with Him and set up the Kingdom of God on the earth. This clearly is scriptural.
So maybe this is the point of reproachbelieving our future will be on the earth in a resurrected body, not in a mansion in Heaven.
Also, another point of reproach is the scriptural teaching that we can have Christ conceived and growing in us and then die spiritually. Although this is clearly scriptural, it is extremely threatening to people who are trusting that even if they fall they still will go to Heaven to live in a mansion. Perhaps the idea that we can be saved and then fall away will be rejected fiercely.
I am not certain of this. But I am certain of the fact that in every generation there must be people who are willing to leave the popular crowd and bear their cross after Jesus. There always will be this despised few who have decided to follow Jesus no matter what others do.
The Galatians suffered reproach for the name of Jesus. Now they were being invited to give up what they had gained and to return to the comforting arms of those who had received Jesus as Christ but were holding fast to Moses also.
Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? (Galatians 3:5)
It is so easy to get our eyes off the Lord and follow a teaching. I notice when members of cults stop by the house to convert us to their beliefs, their tactic is to bring out a book and try to get us thinking along their line. What they are saying may be interesting, logical, and persuasive. But it is a line of thought that is presented, not the Person of Jesus. When one steps back and looks to Jesus, their whole presentation is seen to be without true spiritual value.
The Galatian believers had forgotten all about how God poured out His Spirit and worked miracles among them. Their minds were following the reasoning of teachers who were promoting the Law of Moses.
Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." (Galatians 3:6)
Paul uses this same argument in the Book of Romans. God told Abraham that he would have many descendants. Abraham believed what seemed impossible. On the basis of his belief, God viewed Abraham as righteous.
Pauls point was that one can be righteous apart from obeying the obeying the Law of Moses. Remember, the issue with the Galatians was whether or not Christians are bound by the Law of Moses.
Now we must ask ourselves: throughout Abrahams life, did God always stress that all God required was belief in what God said, or were there times when Abraham had to actually do something in order to remain righteous? Because if Abraham at one point was declared to be righteous on the basis of belief only, but at another point had to take some action to be counted righteous, then we cannot use the life of Abraham as a proof Christians throughout their lifetime need only believe in order to be righteous.
Of course, today we Gentiles are not concerned about being viewed as righteous. We just want to go to Heaven when we die and escape Hell. So we really are addressing this issue in a somewhat different manner. Paul was speaking of being righteous. We are thinking in terms of being saved from Hell and entering Heaven. We would say, "Abraham believed God and so he went to Heaven instead of Hell."
But back to the issue. Was Gods only requirement of Abraham that He believed what God said, or did Abraham on some occasions have to take action in order to have Gods approval?
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. (Genesis 17:1)
Could the above verse be construed to mean God only required that Abraham believed what God said, or did Abraham have to actually do something?
Suppose Abraham had said, "Yes, Lord, I believe I am supposed to walk before you and be blameless" and then he committed fornication with all his servant girls, beat his servants, and abused his animals. Would God have judged Abraham to be righteous on the basis of his belief that God had told him to walk before God and be blameless?
Then God said to Abraham, "As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. (Genesis 17:9)
The above has to do with circumcision. Suppose Abraham had said, "Yes, Lord, I believe you have commanded me to be circumcised and all the males in my household" but then did not follow through with the Lords command. Would God have viewed Abraham as righteous because he believed God had spoken to him?
For I have chosen him, so he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him. (Genesis 18:19)
What if Abraham did not direct his children to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just? Would God have considered Abraham to be a righteous man because at one point he had believed the promise of God? Would God then have brought about for Abraham what He had promised him?
The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time And said, "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, (Genesis 22:15-17)
Suppose Abraham had refused to offer Isaac. Would God still have regarded Abraham as righteous because previously he had believed the promise of God? Would God then have blessed Abraham and made his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky? This was the original promise that Abraham believed and thus was declared righteous. But see how the original promise was made certain at a later time by Abrahams response to a terrific test of obedience!
We have to make our calling and election certain, dont we?
We know the answer to these questions. We know we are judged to be righteous when we believe Christ died on the cross for our sins. But then God commands us to be baptized in water. Are we righteous because we believe God commanded this and then are not baptized in water? The Apostle Paul commanded us to present our body a living sacrifice to God. Are we righteous when we do not do this?
We know we must obey God if we are to please Him and be regarded as righteous. Yet religious teaching, seizing on Pauls use of one part of Abrahams life, has developed a salvation that aborts Gods intention that people practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. But Pauls only purpose was to prove to Jews that they can discard the Law, put their trust in Jesus Christ, and still be righteous.
If there is a way to thwart God, you can be sure religion will find it.
The Lord Jesus told us we could not be a disciple unless we denied ourselves, took up our cross, and followed Him each day. Are we righteous when we do not do this but live as a worldly person?
How do you think the Apostle Paul would feel if he knew his telling the Jews it was possible to be righteous by believing in Christ without keeping the Law was being interpreted by Gentiles to mean our only response to God is to believe the facts about Christ?
Some of Gods promises to us, such as the blood atonement, require nothing but belief. We obey God by receiving the blood atonement, so we are forgiven. We do not work for this forgiveness; we are forgiven solely on the basis of our belief.
However, there are numerous commandments in the New Testament that require action. We have been commanded to turn aside from our sinful nature and to follow the Holy Spirit. In this case, it is not our belief that God has issued the commandment that brings righteousness, but rather it is our turning aside from our sinful nature and following the Holy Spirit that brings righteousness.
It seems to me that the critical response is obedience. Sometimes we obey God by believing. Other times we obey God by acting. And what prompts our obedience? It is our faith that prompts our obedience. Unbelief and disobedience are virtually synonymous.
I think the Apostle Paul would agree entirely with this.
So the bottom line is faith. We are saved by faith, a faith that sometimes believes the promise, and on other occasions does what God has commanded.
The opposite of the faith that saves is an attempt to gain righteousness by keeping the Law of Moses. Before Jesus Christ came, some Jews did in fact gain righteousness as they sought to keep the Law, and they were judged righteous on that basis.
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lords commandments and regulations blamelessly. (Luke 1:5,6)
Pauls point was that God has changed His demands. Now we have to accept the blood of Calvary for our forgiveness, and then be baptized in water, declaring we have died with Christ and now are to walk in newness of life. Therefore we cannot go back to a previous covenant and please Godnot after He has given His Son as a sin-offering. We can let go of Moses and believe what God has done in Jesus Christ, and thus be viewed as righteous.
But Pauls other writings, as an Apostle to the Gentiles, demonstrate absolutely clearly that believers are not free to sin, just because their entrance into the program of salvation is accomplished by believing in the blood atonement. The believers must crucify their flesh with its passions and lusts.
Some of the saints of the Old Testament were judged righteous by obeying their conscience. For example, God highly regarded Noah, Daniel, and Job. Noah and Job were righteous men who feared and obeyed God. Daniel feared and obeyed God and also kept the Law of Moses, we assume.
Noah obeyed God and built an Ark, but he was judged to be righteous prior to this time.
Job did all in his power to please God, and then suffered anyway. But in the end he obeyed God by praying for his friends.
Daniel was characterized by his faithful prayer life. He was beloved of Heaven.
We have thrown out all of these examples, as well as our conscience and our common sense, and have developed a mystical salvation based on Pauls argument that it is possible to be righteous apart from keeping the Law of Moses.
We have been deceived and have churches full of spiritual babies who have not been taught what behavior is righteous and what is not. If a person mentions the need to be righteous he is scorned as a legalist, a Phariseesomeone who is attempting to improve on the perfect righteousness of Christ. Yet the bulk of the text of the New Testament has to do with righteous behavior, and the dreadful consequences of not behaving righteously.
Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. (Galatians 3:7)
I think Paul is contrasting looking up to Christ for salvation, and looking down at the scroll of the Law for salvation. Of course, Abraham did not have access to the Law of Moses, and so his walk with God was entirely in the realm of faith.
I guess the Jews were under the impression no one could be righteous apart from the Law. Paul is telling them that Abraham was righteous apart from the Law.
The same is true today. It often is taught in the Christian churches that no one can go to Heaven unless he or she "accepts Christ." But Abraham lived and died without "accepting Christ." Is he in Heaven with Lazarus?
Religion has a way of destroying common sense.
The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (Galatians 3:8,9)
All nations are blessed through Christ, the Seed of Abraham. This is the Gospel. Thus Abraham was given the Gospel and was declared righteous before the Law of Moses came into existence. The Gospel we have received was announced before the Law of Moses was given, and Abraham received it by faith. Therefore we enter the promise by faith and not by the Law of Moses.
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." (Galatians 3:9)
The point is that no human being can keep the Law of Moses perfectly. Only the Lord Jesus Christ was able to do that. Therefore, every individual who depends on gaining righteousness by keeping the Law is under a curse, because he or she does not continue to do everything written in the Law.
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, (James 2:8-12)
James, the brother of the Lord, is writing to Jews. He reminds them that if they favor the rich believers over the poor, they are guilty of breaking the Law of Moses. James repeats the idea of Paul by saying if you stumble at one point of the Law it is as though you have broken the entire Law.
I am not certain what James means by "the law that gives freedom," unless he is referring to the law of the Spirit of life: that is, the Holy Spirit. Under the new covenant, the Holy Spirit is our Law. If we obey Him we are held to be righteous in the sight of God, even though there is much of our sinful nature that has not as yet been put to death through the Spirit. Perhaps this is "the law that gives freedom."
Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." (Galatians 3:11)
"The just shall live by faith" is the cry of the Protestant Reformation. It has come to mean we do not have to behave righteously in order to be righteous. What we must do is hold fast our theological beliefs about Jesus Christ.
This is not what the expression means. The righteous shall live by faith is referring to how the righteous live, not what they believe. The righteous live by trusting the Lord for every issue of life. The unrighteous live by depending on their own wisdom, experience, and strength.
The believer seeking to obey the Law of Moses perfectly is prone to depend on his own wisdom, experience, and strength. The believer seeking to live by faith goes from moment to moment with his eyes on the Lord Jesus. It is a dance, a romance, full of surprises. Indeed there may be years of the patient endurance of various problems and dreads. But in the end the years of discipleship will prove to have been the mounting of a golden stairway that leads to a glorious new world of righteousness.
The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them." (Galatians 3:12)
The life based on the Law of Moses is occupied with the study of the Law and the conscientious observance of what the Law states. The life based on faith is occupied with prayer and obedience, with seeking the will of Christ; with listening for the voice of the Spirit of God.
It is not that one works and the other does not. It is not that one studies the Scriptures and the other does not. Both work. Both meditate daily in the Scriptures. But the one keeps looking down at the written Word. The other keeps looking up at the living Word.
The distinction is not between faith and works, for both seek to work righteousness. The distinction is between the human effort to obey various commandments and directives as written, and the human effort to touch God so the Spirit of God might be able to illumine the text; give individual directions; destroy the sinful nature; and form Christ in the inner man of the believer.
Is there faith involved in the attempt to obey the various commandments of the Law? Yes, I think so. But the mind is not occupied with God but with the text of the Law. We are to obey what it says. We do not have to look to God for direction.
I remember when I first became a Christian. Within two weeks of my conversion I was contacted by a representative of the Seventh Day Adventist church. He stressed to me that I was not to work on Saturday.
I was in the Marine Corps at the time. I really struggled over the problem of having to carry my rifle on Saturday. There was no flavor of Christ in this. My mind was occupied with not working on the Sabbath. It was not occupied with the Presence of the Lord.
I remember that experience, and I can see what the Apostle Paul was referring to. It is not a matter of faith but of obedience to what is written. We earn righteousness by our obedience to the commandment.
All forms of law, whether Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Christian, are characterized by gaining approval by obedience to the rules.
Numerous Christian churches imply that every Christian is to go out into the world and save souls. Like every other ecclesiastical rule, it does not invite to prayer. It does not say, "Ask God if you are supposed to go out into the world and save souls." It says, "This is what you are commanded to do. It is not necessary to ask God about this."
The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, not the sword of the Christian. The new covenant is not of the letter but of the Spirit. The new covenant operates by the Spirit. The purpose of the New Testament is to keep us from being led about by unclean spirits. The New Testament commandments are to be obeyed until we learn how to obey the Word through the Spirit.
We are to be led by the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God will never lead us to violate the moral laws of God. The Spirit of God will never lead us to break any of the Jewish Ten Commandments, although the Spirit shows us the true, eternal form of the commandments. The Spirit of God writes the eternal moral law of God on our mind and heart until we keep the law of God by nature.
The Law of Moses leaves us with a set of rules that are to be obeyed. We do not need to ask God about keeping them, although we can pray for strength to obey them. But the emphasis is on the written Scripture. To obey it is to earn righteousness.
Under the new covenant we do not earn righteousness by obeying the commandments found in the New Testament. As long as we follow the Spirit of God, we have been given the righteousness of Jesus Christ, who Himself kept the Law of Moses perfectly. His righteousness is assigned to usbut only as we set aside our sinful nature and obey the Spirit.
The believer who obeys the Law of Moses earns righteousness and the blessing of God. The believer who obeys the Spirit of God is already righteous. The result of following the Spirit of God is not always material blessing. Rather it is change into the image of Christ. It is rest in the center of the Person and will of God. It is assignment to one or more of the roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God. It is to become part of the Temple of God; a part of the Body of Christ; a member of the Bride of the Lamb; a member of the royal priesthood; and so forth.
Thus the Law of Moses leans heavily on obedience to the written text as the worshipers means of earning righteousness.
Under the new covenant, the believer begins with the gift of the righteousness of Christ and eternal life. He does not earn this righteousness or this Divine Life. They are given to him that he may begin the rigorous discipleship that leads to the Throne of God.
Thus the first covenant operates by works. The second covenant operates through faith and proceeds from faith to faith as the transformation of the individual occurs and the new creation makes its appearance.
The current interpretation of the distinction between the Law of Moses and the new covenant is that under the Law of Moses we have to behave righteously, while under the new covenant we do not have to behave righteously but are "saved by grace." Being saved by grace means, as it is used today, that if we believe the facts about Jesus Christ, we will obtain eternal residence in Heaven when we die regardless of how we have behaved on the earth.
Can you begin to get a feeling for how far we have drifted from the teaching of the Apostle Paul?
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." (Galatians 3:13)
Several times in the New Testament the cross of Calvary is spoken of as a tree. I do not know why this is.
Paul is saying here that while Jesus Christ obeyed the Law perfectly, He nevertheless suffered the curse of the Law on our behalf. Now He is able to transfer to us the righteousness He gained, thus freeing us from the curse of the Law of Moses.
He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (Galatians 3:14)
The Lord Jesus Christ paid the price of redemption for us with His blood. He redeemed us so the blessing given to Abraham might come to us through Christ. The blessing given to Abraham makes it possible for us to receive the Holy Spirit by faith.
In Abrahams Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. What is the blessing? The Holy Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit is eternal lifeeternal, incorruptible resurrection life. It may have been true that the Holy Spirit was present in the Garden of Eden causing nature to be alive with the Life of God. But the Life of God left when the first people sinned, for God gives His Spirit only to those who obey Him.
Paul said we Christians have the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit. This means one day, at the hands of the sons of God, the Holy Spirit shall be restored to the creation. Think of the marvel of it! The earth shall be full of the Glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. The Spirit of God shall cover the dead sea of mankind, as we read in the forty-seventh chapter of the Book of Ezekiel.
There are only two ways in which a person can live. One is by the animal life of flesh and blood. The other way is by the Spirit of God. We can walk in the flesh, or we can walk in the Spirit.
It is Gods will that every saved person, in the present world and in the world to come, walk in the Spirit of God. At the present time it requires a great deal of dedication and perseverance if we are to walk in the Spirit of God. We have to fight against our fleshly lusts, our love of the world, our personal ambition, the spirit of Antichrist in the world, the suggestions of the media, social pressures, and so forth. All conspire to bring us down to the animal life of the flesh.
Christ came that we might not be an animal but might live in the eternal life of the Spirit of God. Satan desires that we live according to the sinful nature of our flesh. We have to fight! fight! fight to press into the resurrection life of God!
Why is the Lord putting us through this, when in the world to come it will be so much easier to live according to the Spirit of God? It is because God is developing rulers. The rod of iron is being created in us as we choose to serve righteousness; as we choose to obey the Spirit of God.
At one time a significant number of Gods ruling angels rebelled against His will. The leader was and is Satan. This is why God is developing rulers. It is so there never again shall be a rebellion against His will. His conquering saints shall govern His creation forever. These are Gods sons, and they are arrows in His quiver.
It is Gods will that we set an example for the creation by living in the Spirit of God. If we do this, when the Lord returns we shall return with Him. We then shall bring eternal life, the Life of the Spirit of God, the Life that Jesus Christ is, to the saved peoples of the earth; for it is not Gods will that any person created in His image live according to his own lusts and self-will.
Can we conquer through the Lord Jesus Christ? I believe we can. Lets do it without further delay!
Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. (Galatians 3:15)
Remember, Paul is arguing against the attempts of Jewish teachers to convince the Galatian believers that they were required to obey the Law of Moses. Paul is reminding them of the inviolability of the covenant God made with Abraham.
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ. (Galatians 3:16)
This is an interesting point, isnt it? The Divine promises were made to Abraham and to His Seed, that is, Jesus Christ. This means no one, Jew or Gentile, can receive the promises made to Abraham unless that individual is part of Christ. This is a significant statement, because it sets Christ above the Law of Moses by virtue of a covenant that predates the Law.
What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. (Galatians 3:17)
Paul is saying the Law of Moses does not do away with the covenant made with Abraham, which was made hundreds of years before the Law. If the Law of Moses did do away with the covenant made with Abraham, then Paul could not appeal to the fact that God called Abraham righteous on the basis of his faith in God and not on the basis of Abrahams obedience to the Law of Moses.
Paul is proving that it is not necessary for Christians to go back under the Law of Moses, by showing that they by faith are receiving the blessing coming from a Divinely ordained covenant made before the installing of the Law of Moses.
For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. (Galatians 3:18)
The following is the inheritance, and it was given to Abraham before the Law of Moses came into being. Pauls argument is that the inheritance comes through the Divine promise and is not based on our observance of the Law of Moses. However, the inheritance was based on the obedience of Abraham. So it is true of us that we cannot earn the inheritance by obeying the Law of Moses, but we do have to be obedient to God if we are to be found worthy of the Kingdom of God.
And said, "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, And through your offspring [Seed] all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me." (Genesis 22:16-18)
Abraham shall be blessed and his descendants shall be as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.
Abrahams descendants shall take possession of the cities of their enemies.
Through Abrahams Seed, Jesus Christ, all nations on the earth shall be blessed.
Abrahams physical descendants have been numerous, for all of physical Israel are descended from him. But Paul maintains that the Spirit of God was referring to Christ. So we have to consider every person who becomes part of Jesus Christ as fulfilling the promise concerning the very great number of descendants. Abraham is the father of all who believe in Christ.
The Seed (Jesus Christ and those who are part of Him) will be totally victorious and drive Satan from the face of the earth.
Through Jesus Christ, all nations on earth shall be blessed. Thus the inheritance includes the giving of the Holy Spirit and the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
All of this inheritance was given to Abraham because of his obedience while as yet there was no Law of Moses. Therefore to receive the inheritance it is not necessary to return to the Law of Moses.
What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one. (Galatians 3:19,20)
It appears the promises made to Abraham and his Seed leaped over the Law of Moses and landed on the Lord Jesus Christ and those who become part of Him. The Law of Moses was not an instrument through which people could gain the inheritance, but a device to deal with sin until the promised Seed should come.
My opinion is that the "mediator" was Moses. If this is true, God is one signer of the contract, and those who receive the Word and obey God are the other signers of the contract, and the recipient of the inheritance.
I believe this is an important concept for us to consider. Too often, I think, we regard salvation as a sort of unconditional amnesty operating independently of our responses. I do not believe this is true. God signed the Christian contract in blood on the cross. But the New Testament tells us of how we are to live if we are to honor our part of the contract.
To listen to the preaching of today you would think there is nothing significant we are to do after we say we have faith in Christ. But according to the New Testament there are numerous things we are to do, such as presenting our body a living sacrifice, and cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. God always will keep His part of the contract. But if we do not keep our part of the contract, the contract becomes null and void.
Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. (Galatians 3:21)
The Law of Moses not only is not opposed to the promises of God, it is an abbreviated form of the eternal moral law, the law that is written in the conscience of man. As Paul says, if a law could have been written that would bring eternal life to people, then righteousness and life would have been made available to us through the Law of Moses.
But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. (Galatians 3:22)
The whole world is a prisoner of sin. This includes the Jews. So the promised inheritance is not limited to those who are Jewish, in particular, those who observe the Law, but to all people everywhere. AllJews and Gentilescan put their faith in Christ and receive the Kingdom of God and the Holy Spirit.
Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. (Galatians 3:23)
I think the above verse is crucial in terms of understanding the relationship between the Law of Moses and faith in Christ; between the old covenant and the new covenant. The Law is seen as a temporary device. God was not ready to trust us with the wealth of the Kingdom until the Seed should come who is to rule.
We can see clearly how foolish it would be to return to the Law. It might be compared to an adult who returns to his parents that they might take the responsibility for him and direct his actions.
So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. (Galatians 3:24,25)
The Law of Moses leads us to Christ by showing us our need for a blood atonement, and by defining sin. The Law shows us that we are sinners. As Paul said in the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans, the Law brings sin to life and slays us. Then we see that we need both the total forgiveness and the power to deliver us from the sinful nature that only faith in Christ can bring.
Now that faith in Christ is available to us, we no longer need the Law to supervise us.
Sometimes it is taught that the purpose of the commandments given by Christ and His Apostles act in much the same way. That is, they show us that our sinful flesh is not able to do what we have been commanded, and so we have to be saved by the grace of forgiveness.
However, this teaching is in error. Through the grace given through the new covenant we are able to keep the commandments found in the New Testament. We have the Holy Spirit, the body and blood of Christ, the born again experience, and access to the Most Holy Place in Heaven, to help us do what Christ and His Apostles have commanded. The worshipers under the Law of Moses were not given these elements of Divine grace.
The Law of Moses did not contain the Divine grace required to overcome the sinful nature. The salvation which is in the Lord Jesus Christ does contain the Divine grace required to overcome the sinful nature. Apparently this has not been understood, and so we have the current expression "saved by faith alone." This means how we behave is not critically important, because Divine grace recognizes we are helpless sinners and overlooks our behavior. No greater, more destructive misunderstanding of the new covenant is possible.
If the modern understanding were true, then we Christians have been forgiven but we are helpless sinners who are doomed to continue in our sins. There is no such thing as the victorious life in Christ. No matter how we pray, Satan always has power over our conduct. This would mean Christ came to forgive the works of the devil, not destroy the works of the devilat least as far as our life on earth is concerned.
We have been deceived. It is time now to turn from our deception and begin to go to the Lord for His help as we gain victory over the sin that so easily keeps us in bondage and guilt.
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, (Galatians 3:26)
We do not have to keep the Law of Moses. We do not have to be circumcised. By virtue of our faith in Christ we now are sons of God.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abrahams seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:27-29)
The above three verses put an end to all attempts to put a division between Jews and Gentile Christians. There is no such thing as a Gentile Church. There is no division between Jews who are called of God, including Old Testament Jews, and Gentiles who are called of God. The separation of Jews and Gentile Christians may be due to the destructive philosophy known as Dispensationalism.
When we were baptized into Christ, first in water and then in the Holy Spirit, we clothed ourselves with Christ. We now are an integral, inseparable part of Christ.
For those who have been clothed with Christ, there is no distinction among Jew, Greek, slave, free person, male, or female. All are one in Christ.
If we belong to Christ, having been clothed with Him, we are Abrahams Seed. If we are Abrahams Seed, then we are heirs of the promises made to Abraham.
I cannot understand why intelligent teachers of the Bible have such a problem with this. How can they speculate about a Gentile Church when there is no such thing, only the one Olive Tree; only the one new Man?
How can they talk about Gentile Christians being caught up to Heaven while Jewish believers are left on earth to struggle against the Antichrist?
Actually the bloodlines are so confused by now that it would be nearly impossible to identify a pure Jew or a pure Gentile. And even if we could, it would make no difference. The inerrant Word of God has spoken. In the one Seed of Abraham there is neither Jew nor Greek.
No Jew is a member of Gods elect by virtue of having Jewish parents. Election is independent of physical birth. From the time of Abraham there have been elect peoplepeople whom God has chosen to be members of the royal priesthood, the holy nation. All of these people were physical Jews.
After the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ the Divine election continued with a remnant of Jews and a remnant of Gentiles. These remnants are one stick in Gods hand. They are Gods elect in Christ, and they are absolutely one with all of Gods elect from the time of Abraham, who is the father of all who believe.
This is what the Apostle Paul has stated. It is clear. It is not at all complicated. We should cease our speculations and accept what Paul has stated. It is the unchanging Word of God. It makes the Bible much more understandable. It is what the Bible says!
What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. (Galatians 4:1-3)
The worshipers under the Law of Moses were as slaves, the Law being the guardians and trustees.
The Law works in terms of the basic principles of the world, such as the food we eat, the kind of clothing we wear, various religious observances and customs.
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, To redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. (Galatians 4:4,5)
Now the time has come for us to receive our full rights as sons. With this in mind, it would be unreasonable for us to go back under the Law. It would be like a young man who has come to maturity, and then goes back to the guardians and trustees who guided him while he was a child.
Christ redeemed us from the authority of Satan by paying the mortgage price on the cross.
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:6,7)
The more Christ is formed in us, the more we become aware of the Father. Christ came to bring us to the Father. When all the creation has been placed under subjection to Christ, then Christ Himself shall be subject to the Father.
The current confusion concerning Christ and the Father works against what the Lord Jesus desires to do in the last days. Christ wants to introduce us to the Fatherour Father and His Father. When we maintain that Christ is one of the revelations of the Father, it becomes difficult for us to envision our Father in His own right. Hopefully this confusion will be done away with as we move forward in Christ.
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. (Galatians 4:8)
We humans look for someone to worship, to give glory to. Yesterday the governor of our state was thrown out of office by the voters and a new governor was voted in to take his place. People become excited supposing somehow their daily life will change for the better. They are looking toward the wrong person if they expect an improvement in their life.
The first commandment is that we should have no other gods before the Lord. The Lord is our rightful God, and we do well when we give all glory to Him. I wonder how long it will take us Christians before we stop looking to distinguished men and begin to worship God alone.
Human beings have been created with the need to worship some person, thing, or circumstance. As long as we worship a person, thing, or circumstance other than the Lord and His Father, we remain in bondage. Only God, and His Son, Jesus Christ, are to be worshiped. They alone can help us. They alone can set us free from sin. They alone can bring us love, joy, and peace. The sooner we learn this, the happier we will be.
But now that you know Godor rather are known by Godhow is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? (Galatians 4:9)
The Galatian believers, following the exhortations of their teachers, were going back to the statutes of the Law of Moses, including circumcision. As we saw at the beginning, even the Apostle Peter was swayed by those who were preaching the Law of Moses. These teachers were seeking to add the Law of Moses to the salvation that is in Christ.
Even today we have Christian people who are returning to the Torah. Their return tells us that believers find it difficult to understand why we no longer have need of the Law of Moses. In fact, there is a great deal of confusion today concerning how the new covenant deals with sin. I believe the Holy Spirit is going to open our understanding in the present hour so we can see what we are supposed to do about our sinful nature.
If Christian people understood how the law of the Spirit of life operates, how we are to be led by the Spirit to put the deeds of our sinful nature to death, they would never go back to the Law of Moses. But for the most part they are being taught only about how they are justified through the blood atonementnothing past this. They may feel instinctively that they should not be sinning, but they do not know what to do about it.
You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! (Galatians 4:10)
Some Christians are keeping the feasts of the Lord, such as Passover and Tabernacles. Actually they are not keeping the feasts according to the Torah, because the Torah required animal sacrifices. It is kind of a romantic idea in some instances, I believe.
I think it is helpful to study the feasts, and observe them during the calendar year if desired. But they are not required of us. They are part of that which has been done away.
When we speak of no longer being required to keep the Ten Commandments, Christians become confused. They have not been taught that the moral obligations found in the Ten Commandments are all repeated in the New Testament. Also, if we are following the Holy Spirit, we are cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.
This leaves the question of the fourth commandment, the Sabbath. Are we or are we not obliged to stop working on the Sabbath, which is Saturday (not Sunday, which is the first day of the week, the day on which Christ rose from the dead).
If we still are required to stop work on Saturday in order to honor the Sabbath, then Pauls argument in the Book of Galatians is nullified. If we choose to keep any part of the Law of Moses we are obligated to keep the entire Law.
The Christian Sabbath is discussed in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. It is the rest of God. The rest of God is that place in God where we are dwelling in the center of Gods Person and will. Instead of honoring God on one day of the week, we honor God at all times, not seeking our own will or pleasure but the pleasure of the Lord. This is how the Lord Jesus lived, even though He also honored the Mosaic Sabbath.
Each one of the Ten Commandments is greatly expanded and written on our mind and heart. The Holy Spirit writes them and then enables us to observe them, meanwhile helping us to destroy our sinful nature.
Christ is the eternal Word, the eternal Law of God, made flesh. We are the flesh being made the eternal Word, the eternal Law of God. We are being made in the image and likeness of Christ. Christ is being formed in us, and eventually the Father and Christ will take up Their eternal abode in us. With these acts of salvation in mind, we can see how inappropriate it would be to return to the Law of Moses.
I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. (Galatians 4:11)
I marvel at the wisdom of God. Dont you? How could the Apostle Paul have realized that the attempted return of the Galatian believers to the Law of Moses would prompt him to write the explanation we are studying, and that it would help Christian people for thousands of years in every country of the world?
So we should never be discouraged but just do what God puts in front of us to do.
I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong. (Galatians 4:12)
Paul never held himself above his fellow saints. It seems Paul met in homes with relatively small groups of Christians. In fact, it may be true that the lists of people that are included at the end of some of the Epistles may have included everyone in that particular assembly.
We are placing far, far too much emphasis in our day on the number of people who attend a church. It may be true that this emphasis on numbers is watering down the assemblings until the spirit of wisdom and revelation no longer is operating.
Paul, it seems to me, was a simple, plain, forthright person who went from city to city teaching ordinary people, for the most part. I do not visualize Paul making a business of the ministry, seeing how many people he could get in his organization, and then keeping a record of how many "accepted Christ."
As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. (Galatians 4:13)
Apparently Paul had not intended to preach in Galatia, or at least not to the extent he did. Paul had to stay and preach in Galatia because he became ill. Isnt it just like the Lord to bring circumstances into our life in order to force us to do what He wants!
This is why, when we find we are being opposed or frustrated in what we are attempting to do, we should refrain from raging at people and circumstances, and instead ask the Lord what He would have us do. Perhaps He is closing one door and opening another just a crack. If we are careful in prayer we will be able to see the way the Lord wants us to go and not keep trying to smash the obstacles placed before us.
Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. (Galatians 4:14)
Sometimes our illnesses and other handicaps work for good. While we may desire to be strong and independent, the people to whom we are ministering may be helped to a greater extent because of our helplessness. The Lords strength may be made perfect in our weakness.
What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. (Galatians 4:15)
Some scholars have speculated that Pauls illness may have been a disease of his eyes. The converts in Galatia were so overjoyed with Pauls preaching they would have given him their own eyes. Paul had to write and warn them because they were getting off the track.
It happens so often that when someone is brought to Christ, a false teacher shows up to try to get the novice into an unprofitable doctrine. I do not know why God permits this, unless it is to test the new convert for some reason.
As I said before, after I had been a Christian for a few days, here came a Seventh Day Adventist teacher. I was swayed by his arguments. However, a strong Christian prayed for me, and God brought me out. I still remember what a bondage it was to keep from working on Saturday. It took my eyes off the Lord completely.
Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? (Galatians 4:16)
The above verse really strikes a note with me. When I first started pastoring a church (at the age of fifty), the faith and prosperity messages were prominent. Everything was positive. Think positively and you will get whatever you want.
I came with my message of cross-carrying obedience. It is a marvel anyone remained in the church I was pioneering.
The main objection to my teaching, I was told, was that I did not have love. Sometimes I hear that even today.
I do not know what other pastors do or say that reveals how great their love is. My idea of love is to find out from God what I am supposed to give to the people, and then present the message as clearly, accurately, and in as kindly a manner as possible. I am endeavoring to show my love for the Lord Jesus by feeding His sheep.
I will be the first to admit that I have been somewhat belligerent in time past, while now I am as mild as milk. But there is this about it: I was telling the people the truth all the while. I do not know about you, but I would rather a preacher told me the truth and frowned at me than give me false information while he is smiling.
So how does a pastor show love? Is it by telling everyone that God loves them and no matter what they do they will go to Heaven? More than that, any day now they are going to be carried up to Heaven while the Jews face Antichrist in the earth?
I recognize "grace-rapture-Heaven" is a more attractive message than "set aside your sinful nature and obey the Holy Spirit." But I do not believe it is very loving to lie to people so they will feel good.
I guess the Galatian believers were beginning to regard Paul as an enemy. Why? Because he was not telling them what they wanted to hear. Why else would they regard the Apostle as an enemy?
I am resolved to tell people the truth in a way that shows I care about their welfare. How do you feel about this?
Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so you may be zealous for them. Galatians 4:17)
Do you suppose Paul was correct in what he was saying? Paul was claiming that these teachers of the Law of Moses were motivated by a desire to alienate the Galatian believers from Paul. They wanted the Galatians to believe them and receive them as teachers of the truth, and to turn away from Paul.
If Paul was correct, these teachers of the Law were not primarily interested in the Law but in gaining followers. Do you know, there is so much of this sort of thing in todays Christian churches it is sickening. We could wish for more integrity in the ministry.
It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. (Galatians 4:18)
I am under the impression the Apostle Paul was not seeking to gain followers. He had been sent by Jesus Christ to bear witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord. He wanted the Galatians to be zealous for Christ, not for Paul.
My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, (Galatians 4:19)
It is my opinion that the above verse is one of the most important of the New Testament.
Notice that the Galatian believers had received the blood atonement. They also had received the Holy Spirit, but Christ had not been formed in them sufficiently to keep them from being seduced back into the Law of Moses.
I may be incorrect in this, but I believe today we are preaching "another gospel." We are not preaching the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
We are announcing that if you believe in Christ and are baptized in water you will go to Heaven when you die. This is not the gospel. The Gospel is that if you believe in Christ and are baptized in water you will be saved. Saved from what? Saved from the bondages of the devil. How are we saved from the bondages of the devil? By having Christ formed in us.
We are treating the Gospel of the Kingdom as a philosophy. The Gospel is not a philosophy. The Gospel is not a religion. The Gospel is a Seed that comes from God and is planted in the hearts of people.
The parables of Jesus are about the Seed of the Gospel. It requires a lifetime of cross-carrying obedience if the Seed of the Kingdom is to grow to the maturity God desires.
Gods goal for us is that we become a new creation of righteous conduct. Gods goal for us is that we attain to the stature of the fullness of Christ. Can you see how utterly different this is from what is being preached today?
The gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit are to travail until we all come to the unity of the faith, to the knowledge of the Son of God, to perfection as measured by the full image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is not what we are preaching today. We are preaching a ticket to Heaven, not maturity in Christ. We are preaching a false, destructive message. God is seeking to bring people into Christ. We are seeking to bring the people into our churches under the assumption that this always is equivalent to bringing them into Christ. But it is not.
The ministries to today are endeavoring to build churches, not saints, for the most part. This is a grievous condition and I believe God is going to do something about it.
When the believers grow to maturity in Christ they are not easily led about by teachers who are worshipers of their own belly. When the believers grow to maturity in Christ they are able to overcome Antichrist. Why are they able to overcome Antichrist? Because the truth of Christ that has been formed in them is more powerful than the lie of the Antichrist world-spirit
Let us keep praying that we will have a reformation of Christian thinking so strong saints will be produced in the churches.
How I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you! (Galatians 4:20)
It appears one aspect of the ministry of the apostle is that of making certain the believers stay on course with Christ. We certainly need apostles today! The Christian churches have drifted from the original new covenant to a mythological salvation. People who never have turned aside from their sinful nature are going to be caught up to Heaven in an unscriptural "rapture." The whole purpose of the new covenant, which is to make people in Christs image, has been defeated by a schizophrenic, never-never land of a bubble of grace. As long as one is in the bubble of grace, no onenot even Godcan see the believer as he or she actually is.
Isnt it time for someone to point out that the emperor is naked?
If Paul were with us now, he probably would behave like Ezra did when he found out the Jews had married pagan women.
Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? (Galatians 4:21)
We see that Paul is still reacting against the Law of Moses, as he does in the Book of Romans. Unless we keep in mind that Paul is arguing against going back to the Law of Moses, we Gentiles will think Paul is saying salvation has little to do with godly behavior. This is a gigantic error in our thinking, isnt it?
For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. (Galatians 4:22)
The one by the slave woman was Ishmael. The son by the free woman was Isaac.
His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. (Galatians 4:23)
The point here is that while Ishmael was born in the normal physical manner, Isaac was the result of a promise and a miracle. No promise or miracle was involved in the birth of Ishmael.
Ishmael, a "wild donkey of a man," was the result of Abraham and Sarah attempting to fulfill the promise of God by their own efforts. Every time the Christian people attempt to fulfill the promise of God by their own wisdom and strength they produce a "wild man." This is as true today as it has been throughout Church history. Will we ever learn to wait on God until He shows us what to do?
These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. (Galatians 4:24,25))
Hagar, the slave woman, the mother of Ishmael, represents Mount Sinaithe Law of Moses. The present city of Jerusalem and her children are in slaveryslavery to the Law.
But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. (Galatians 4:26)
The Jerusalem that now is in Heaven speaks of Sarah. She is not in slavery to the Law of Moses.
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, To the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, To Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)
When we leave the Law of Moses and put our faith in Christ we have come to the heavenly Jerusalem, to the righteous angels, to the church of the firstborn, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus and His blood of atonement. It is not that we will come to Mount Zion, we already have come here.
Quite a difference between the Law of Moses and faith in Christ, isnt there?
For it is written: "Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband." (Galatians 4:27)
The above quotation is from the fifty-fourth chapter of the Book of Isaiah. This passage should always be central to Christian thinking. It speaks of the barren women of the Bible, such as Sarah, Hannah, the mother of Samson, and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist.
The message is: when God is ready to bring forth a person of special importance He sometimes intervenes so what would occur under normal circumstances does not take place. Finally, when the hoped-for child does arrive, it is by a miracle.
All of us should take this message to heart. God may give us a promise. But there may be years before God bring the promise to fulfillment. The saints are formed in the years between the vision and the fulfillment.
There is a temptation to take matters into our own hands, isnt there? We begin to imagine that God wants us to put feet on our prayers. Putting feet on our prayers is like putting boots on an eagle. Prayers fly on the wings of faith and patience; they do not stump around in the boots of human endeavor. There is a time to work, and a time to wait. Only the Lord can tell us which we should be doing.
Waiting can be difficult, especially if the Lord has put a desire in our heart for some form of ministry. Sometimes it is appropriate to ask God for wisdom and then take a small step. If the fruit is good, and we have peace, we might take another small step, in the meanwhile watching the consequences.
The moment we find ourselves forcing people or circumstances, or becoming angry because people are not doing what we think they should, we are to draw back and look to the Lord. We may be getting ahead of Him.
Speaking of getting ahead of the Lord:
But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50:1)
God is not pleased when we take matters in our own hands.
It is interesting to note that the barren woman, of the fifty-fourth chapter of Isaiah, brings forth the new Jerusalem.
O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. (Isaiah 54:11)
It appears so much of Christian work proceeds from the well intentioned efforts of people who are anxiously performing what they think is Gods will. I believe Babylon the Great, of the Book of Revelation, represents religious organizations who are working in their own strength and wisdom.
Babylon always will murder Jesus Christ wherever He appears.
According to the Book of Revelation, the time will come when God calls His own people out of Babylon and prepares them for the return of the Lord. Then the Antichrist government will destroy Babylon, which at that time will be situated at the site of ancient Babylon in Iraq, I believe.
Even though we may be in a babylonish religious situation, let us do the good that we can until God makes it absolutely clear that we are to leave. Many of the Lords people are in Babylon, so to speak, and He is blessing them there.
Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. (Galatians 4:28)
In other words, it is not the natural children who are Gods children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abrahams offspring. (Romans 9:8)
Paul wrote that a member of Gods elect is not so by the fact of physical birth but by promise. This means not all those born of Jewish parents are members of Gods elect, of the holy nation, the royal priesthood.
We must conclude from this that not all Jews are members of the Body of Christ; but some are. Not all Gentiles are members of the Body of Christ; but some are. Not all members of the Christian religion are members of the Body of Christ; but some are.
The Lord Jesus said, "You did not choose me. I chose you."
He said also, "No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him."
Today in America we have a difficult time accepting the New Testament passages that speak of election. We want everyone "saved," and that is the end of that!
In other words, we do not accept what the Scripture states clearly, in spite of our vigorous proclamations about how the Bible is the Word of God.
The truth is that we have been contaminated by the philosophy of humanism and the democratic form of government. We may forget at times that the Bible was written under the governments of kings and emperors.
From the time of Abraham to the present, the true servants of the Lord have been chosen by the Lord. Much of Christendom always has been of Babylon. But in our babylonish institutions there have been true members of Gods elect
Paul is telling the believers in Galatia that they, like Isaac, are children of Gods promise. They are not of the elect because they were born Jews or Gentiles, but because the Spirit of God has brought them to Jesus Christ. The point is that they are not to return to the religion of Judaism, which is not by election but by the efforts of men.
At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. (Galatians 4:29)
Ishmael mocked Isaac when Isaac was weaned.
But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, (Genesis 21:9)
Notice that Isaac, the miracle baby, was born by the power of the Spirit.
How did Sarah respond when she saw Ishmael mocking Isaac?
But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave womans son will never share in the inheritance with the free womans son." (Galatians 4:30)
Paul is arguing that we should get rid of the Law of Moses, because the Law enslaves us with its obligations. The Law is like Ishmael, it addresses the natural man, telling it what to do. Faith in Jesus Christ is like Isaac, in that His salvation operates by promise and considers the physical body dead in sin.
Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. (Galatians 4:31)
It is amazing that the Apostle Paul, having been raised in the Law, was now so decidedly against it, equating it with slavery.
We Gentiles do not realize how unpleasant it is to be bound by the Law of Moses. It did not produce happy Jews.
Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? (Acts 15:10)
We who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are not to go back to any part of the Law of Moses. To do so is to return to slavery.
However, this does not mean we are free to sin, as some are teaching. We are under a far more demanding law, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ. The Law of Moses addresses our natural man, telling him how to behave. The law of the Spirit of life demands that our entire personality become part of Christ so He governs every detail of our life.
How is it, then, that the Law of Moses is slavery while the law of the Spirit of life is freedom? It is because the Law of Moses requires of our flesh behavior the flesh finds impossible to perform. Thus the Law interacts with our sinful nature and leaves us with a guilty conscience.
The law of the Spirit of life calls our attention to the works of our sinful nature, and then furnishes the Divine grace that will set us free from sinful behavior.
The Law of Moses condemns us because we cannot obey it perfectly. When we enter the salvation that is in Jesus Christ we are forgiven all our sins. We begin the Christian pilgrimage with a clear conscience, which the Law of Moses cannot provide.
Then Divine grace furnishes the wisdom and power we need to overcome our sinful nature, enabling us to keep the commandments found in the New Testament. Meanwhile, Christ is being formed in us. Eventually, at the coming of the Lord, we will receive a body like that of Christ. Then we will be totally free from sin.
We understand, therefore, that the Law of Moses brings us into bondage, while the law of the Spirit of life in Christ releases us from the bondages of the world, of the lusts of the flesh, and from our self-will and self-centeredness.
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. (Galatians 5:1)
From what Paul has just said we understand we are not to return to any part of the Law of Moses. People may approach us with arguments that seem convincing. We are not to listen to them. We are to determine resolutely we are not going to obligate ourselves to keep any part of the Law.
If we are so weak that we still can be swayed, we need to pray for the strength to follow the teaching of Paul and not be moved away from it.
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. (Galatians 5:2,3)
Evidently these Jewish teachers who were seeking to bring the believers back under the law were pressing circumcision. "People have to be circumcised if they are to please God and be righteous in His sight."
Paul is saying if a person is circumcised for religious reasons, he then must obey the entire Law of Moses. Since this is impossible, because animal sacrifices cannot be made until the Temple is rebuilt, it is folly to dip back into the Law in any manner.
Whoever is attempting to gain righteousness by keeping the Law of Moses is making Christ of no value to himself. Christ kept the Law of Moses perfectly, and then paid the penalty as though He had broken the Law. Christ gives the believer Christs own righteousness, when the believer looks to Him in faith and follows the Spirit of God. Since Christs own righteousness is perfect, it is pointless to attempt to add to it by keeping any part whatever of the Law of Moses.
You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:4)
Whoever would seek to gain righteousness by observing any part of the Law of Moses has been separated from Christ. He has abandoned the grace of God.
But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. (Galatians 5:5)
The above verse is extraordinary. Our concept today is that salvation occurs the moment we "accept Christ." Then we look back to that moment and say that is when we were saved. But remember the Lord said: "He who endures to the end shall be saved." So our idea of salvation needs some modifying.
Paul said in Romans that our salvation is nearer then when we first believed. Paul said also that we have been sealed to the day of redemption. And notice Peter:
Who through faith are shielded by Gods power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5)
A glance at the text of First Peter will reveal that Peter was writing to Christian people. Peter is saying to Christian people that their salvation will be revealed in the last time. There are other passages that present the same idea.
If we wish to express the thought of salvation we should say that we were saved at the point we received Christ; we are working out our own salvation at this time; and we shall be saved when the Lord comes if we endure to the end.
The salvation of the last time has to do with purifying the members of Christs Body from sin, and then clothing their resurrected flesh and bones with a body from Heaven that has no sin in it.
So Paul says we are hoping for the righteousness that is to come.
The problem we have today is that the believers are viewing salvation as having taken place at some prior time in their life. Then they drift into the controversy concerning whether we can be lost after we have been saved.
Dont you see, if salvation is a process rather than a decision we made at some point in the past, it makes no sense to raise the question whether we can be lost after we have been saved?
Salvation is always today. Today is the day of salvation. We may have received Christ twenty years ago. We were saved at that time. But what is true of us right this minute? Are we living with Christ at the right hand of God? Or are we living in the world and yielding to our sinful nature? If we are living in the world and yielding to our sinful nature, we may have been saved twenty years ago but we are not now. Why is this? It is because salvation is salvation from sin.
Now, if we still are bound with sin and living according to our sinful nature, how can we say we are saved? The truth is that we are not being saved from sin at this time. We have dropped out of the program of salvation.
Salvation is not static. It is not something we did at some point in time. Salvation is the program of moving us from Satan to God. It lasts throughout our lifetime on the earth. For all we know, it may continue after we die. I know of nothing in the Bible that says our deliverance from the sinful nature does not continue after we die.
The Bible states that after death comes the judgment. This is true. But Peter says that God is ready to judge the living and the dead. So we can be judged at any time.
Salvation is always right now. We can embrace Christ at any point in time, or we can reject Christ at any point in time. Right now if you are embracing Christ, you are embracing eternal life. You are not under condemnation. You are joining yourself to Gods beloved Son.
But if right now you are not embracing Christ, no matter what you did five years ago, you are not embracing eternal life. You are living in the flesh. Unless you turn again to Christ, you are sowing destruction, and that is what you are going to reap when the Lord returns.
You can see readily how we have been deceived!
The Israelites left Egypt, which is a type of receiving Christ. Then they died in the wilderness because of disobedience and unbelief. This fact is used in the New Testament as a warning to us not to turn away from our daily walk with Christ.
See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12)
Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. Jude 1:5)
Therefore the current teaching that after we accept Christ we cannot be lost to Gods purposes is not scriptural. It is the old "You shall not surely die."
We Christians are to be awaiting eagerly, through the Spirit, the righteousness for which we hope. Day by day we are to be pressing into Christ, hoping when He comes He will be pleased to count us righteous and worthy of being brought forth into eternal life in the new world of righteousness. This is what the New Testament teaches, and our current traditions are largely unscriptural.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5:6)
Faith expressing itself through love. What a perfect portrayal of the true Christian discipleship! These are dynamic faith and dynamic love: never looking back; always pressing forward to the day of perfect righteousness, the Day of Salvation.
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? (Galatians 5:7)
The Christian life is a race. It is not a philosophy. It is the way in which we face the decisions that confront us each day and night. The currents of the world, of our sinful nature, and of our self-will, are strong. If we do not keep pressing forward, we soon are drifting backward.
Sometimes I marvel at how casual American Christians are. They take life easy, go to the beach, play golf, have backyard barbecues, and go on vacations. There has to be change and rest if we are to remain healthy. But I think we overdo it. One can get the feeling we are not in a race; not in a warfare. We have "accepted Christ" and now we ought to enjoy ourselves while we are waiting to die and go to Heaven.
This too often is the way of American Christians, but it is not the Bible way of cross-carrying discipleship.
Jesus told His disciples to beware of the leaven of the scribes and Pharisees. I have noticed that sometimes believers of years of experience will get drawn into an unscriptural doctrine. We have to be watching in prayer at all times so we are not deceived!
That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. (Galatians 5:8)
It was not the Lord Jesus who was urging the Galatian Christians to be circumcised. We need to be careful whom we are listening to. It is not unusual for Christian people to become inflamed with some new teaching: unconditional love; get rich by faith; say what you want and believe you have it; and so forth. These novelties sweep through the churches and lead many astray.
It is a good idea to pray several times a day that you not be deceived. I do!
A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough. (Galatians 5:9)
The Lord Jesus told us the Kingdom of God is like a seed. If tended properly it will grow into a huge tree. The same is true with Satans lies. If we do not root out these little shoots when they appear, they grow into sturdy trees that are very difficult to remove. This is why we must pray and read our Bible every day.
Satan always is watching us, looking for chinks in our armor. This is why we never can just kick back and have fun, as worldly people do. We must always post a prayer-guard no matter where we are or what we are doing.
If we go to a party and join in the fun, we may say or do something that will take years to correct. Christian discipleship is a deadly serious business!
I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. (Galatians 5:10)
Christian teachers who introduce novelties or emphasize traditions that are not scriptural will someday be called on to answer to Jesus Christ why they brought confusion into the churches.
I wonder about the number of pastors and evangelists who have taught Gods people that they never can be lost no matter how they behave. I wonder about those who have emphasized a "pre-tribulation rapture" that will keep the believers from being exposed to Antichrist or the Great Tribulation. I wonder about those who are teaching that no believer will hear anything negative at the Judgment Seat of Christ, although many contemporary American Christians could hardly be termed cross-carrying disciples.
My opinion is that many such pastors and teachers are godly people who sincerely believe they are correct. They are not intentionally deceiving people. This also may have been true of the Judaizers who were instructing the Galatian believers to return to the Law. They may have been godly people who were utterly sincere.
Someone said, "Sincerity wont keep you from drowning if you dont know how to swim."
I do not believe deceived teachers will immediately become aware of their error the moment they die. Maybe they will, but I doubt it.
Perhaps the Judaizers who caused Paul so much anguish are part of the cloud of witnesses who are watching to see how their lifes work helped or hindered people. Maybe this is what takes place.
Paul says they will pay the penalty.
I remember Dr. Jarman who preached the wrong message for fifty years, and then was brought onto the right track by his secretary, Carmen Benson. His question was, "Lord, why did you let me go for so long preaching the wrong message?" Dr. Jarman was a fine man, and a truly humble man to grasp the truth when he heard it, although it caused him to lose his congregation.
Perhaps all the preachers and teachers of time past can look down and see the effects of what they said and did. I dont believe God would punish a person whose heart was right, even though he had been deceived.
But you can imagine the sorrow of finding out you were incorrect. And think of the rejoicing of the Apostle Paul when he discovers that he had been accurate and his words finally were vindicated; even though today they are being misinterpreted to mean grace covers the believer who continues to follow his sinful nature.
Maybe Paul is wishing he were clearer. But God controls all things. Sometimes God speaks to us in parables so those whom God has chosen will hear the truth and others will be confused.
He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. (Matthew 13:11,12)
We all will have to wait, wont we, to see the true effects of our efforts. If our heart has been right and we have heard from God and obeyed Him, we will receive a reward. If our heart has not been right, we will not receive a reward. We ourselves will be saved as by fire.
Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. (Galatians 5:11)
There always is an offense when God is bringing a new Word. As we look back in history we can see how each new step, beginning with the translation of the Bible into the language of the people, brought vicious persecution.
Since that time, each succeeding move forward in the plan of redemption resulted in persecution. Examples of such moves include: the priesthood of the believer; the righteous live by faith and not by punishing themselves; and water baptism by immersion. The previous century, the Pentecostal century, began in the midst of persecution. The believers were despised as "holy rollers."
Now the offense is not on "tongues" nearly as much as it was. The offense now is on the doctrine that God is ready to cleanse His Church, and we must be ready to confess our sins and turn away from them. Instead of obeying our sinful nature and waiting for an unscriptural "rapture," we are to start living righteously, take up our cross, and follow Jesus.
Another offense is on the teaching of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, rather than the doctrine that we are to make our eternal home in Heaven. There always is an offense resting on truth that is being restored to the churches.
In the case of the Apostle Paul, if he had preached the necessity for adding the Law of Moses to the Christian faith, he would not have been persecuted. But now by preaching that the Christs death on the cross has abolished the Law of Moses, Paul was being persecuted.
As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! (Galatians 5:12)
This is a harsh statement, isnt it? We must keep in mind, as we read the Book of Acts, how mean and vicious the Jews were as they pursued Paul on his missionary journeys. It may be easy for us to sit back and say that Paul was not being kind here. But he was under stress from mean peoplepeople who agreed with the crucifying of the Lord. Paul was thoroughly disgusted with them.
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. (Galatians 5:13)
I think today it sometimes happens that American believers interpret Pauls teaching of grace to mean they can act as they please. Instead of serving one another in love, there often is strife, division, gossip, slander, self-seeking, sometimes immorality, anger, spite, jealousy, and backbiting. We preach the blood atonement well and the need to be born again. But after that we are weak. We do not seem to know how to grow past the appetites and passions of the flesh and spirit.
The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. (Galatians 5:14,15)
It is clear from Pauls writings that the first-century churches were as carnal as we are today.
It appears the Lord chose the first Apostles and gave them great revelation. As soon as they died, the church leaders no longer had the same Spirit of wisdom and revelation. They began to write commentaries.
Beginning with the Reformation God has been restoring the original revelation given to the Apostles. It will not be lost again. Numerous saints have lived a victorious life in Christ. This is still taking place today. Even though the churches in America as a whole are quite immature, it seems a remnant of saints are emerging who are growing toward maturity in Christ.
We still may be biting and devouring one another. But an army of righteous believers is being formed from within the churches: one here; another there. In due time, I believe, the Spirit will bring them together. I think this is what God is planning.
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Galatians 5:16)
When people tell me it is impossible to gain victory over sin, I often quote the above verse. We can overcome sinful behavior. If we will be careful to live by the Spirit by praying, reading our Bible, obeying the Lord, and gathering with fervent believers, we can overcome the desires of the sinful nature.
But is this victory necessary in order to be saved? I guess it depends on what you mean by being saved. If being saved means to be part of Christ and to inherit the Kingdom of God, yesvictory over the sinful nature is necessary.
For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so you do not do what you want. (Galatians 5:17)
This sounds like defeat, doesnt it? But Paul had just stated that if we live by the Spirit we will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
It absolutely is true that we have a sinful nature and that it desires what is contrary to the Spirit. It is a fight all the way as we resist the sinful nature and obey the Spirit of God and the Scriptures. But it is not a hopeless struggle. As we keep on, keep on, keep on praying and seeking the Lord, we gain eternal victory over various elements of the darkness that is in us.
This is what growth in Christ is: the ability to judge between what is good and what is evil, and the willingness and strength to embrace the good and reject the evil.
It is a fight, but it is a fight that always leads to victory if we do not surrender to the desires of our sinful nature. Remember, the promises of glory and rulership are made to the overcomers, not to the losers.
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. (Galatians 5:18)
If we are following the Spirit of God in our daily life, the Law of Moses has no authority over us.
Even though we are Christians, if we are not following the Spirit of God, we are judged by the Law as sinners. This may not be a popular teaching, but it is implied by Galatians 5:18, isnt it?
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; Idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 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. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Every one of us has a sinful nature, and these are the behaviors the sinful nature performs.
Now notice carefully: If we, as a Christian, continue to yield to these lusts and passions, we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
I say again: Christian or not, if we continue to yield to these lusts and passions, we will not inherit the Kingdom of God; not by grace, mercy, or any other means of escape on which we are pinning our hopes.
The inerrant Word of God has spoken. It shall not be changed by todays Christian humanism!
There is grace in the Lord Jesus Christ that will enable us to gain victory over every behavior mentioned here. Absolute victory over every manifestation of our sinful behavior! There is no behavior too strong for the Lord Jesus such that He cannot give us victory over it.
The reason Christian believers do not gain victory over these behaviors is because they have been taught that it is not necessary, and that victory is not possible.
But the Scriptures state victory is necessary. The Scripture states that through the Holy Spirit we can gain victorymoment by moment we can gain victory! It is not an open-ended, endless struggle. We can gain victory over each of these behaviors! We must gain victory over each of these behaviors, otherwise we risk not inheriting the Kingdom of God. This is what the Bible states.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22,23)
There is only one fruit of the Spirit. The one fruit has nine faces that interact.
These nine virtues are not the fruit of the Christian but the fruit of the Spirit of God. They are manifest in us only as we are living in the Spirit.
What is eternal life? Eternal life is life lived in the Presence and knowledge of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. How is eternal life revealed? In love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
How is eternal death revealed? In hatred, misery, unrest, impatience, cruelty, evil, treachery, harshness, and lack of self-control.
Is a believer exhibiting hatred? He is revealing the death in himself or herself.
Is he miserable? He needs more of the eternal life of the Spirit.
Is he anxious and worried? This is not of God.
Is he impatient? This is a characteristic of the wicked one.
Is he cruel? This is Satans man or woman. He or she is filled with death.
Is he evil? This is the face of Satan.
Is he treacherous? Again, this is the personality of Satan and is spiritual death.
Is he or she harsh? Christ is a Lamb.
Does he lack self-control? He is losing his soul. He is being directed by forces other than his conscience and judgment.
The only sure sign we are being saved is that we are changing from the fruit of the sinful nature to the fruit of the Spirit. We can talk all we want to about being saved and born again. But if the fruit of the Spirit is not coming forth, then we are going to be cut out of the Vine. That we are living in spiritual death is demonstrated by our lack of these virtues. We are dead although we are alive physically.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
Do we belong to Christ Jesus? Then we have crucified our sinful nature. How do we crucify our sinful nature? By deliberately refusing to obey the lusts and passions of our sinful nature. This means we will be praying without ceasing. But there is nothing wrong with that, is there?
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
How do we keep in step with the Spirit? (Galatians 5:25,26)
By praying each day.
By reading our Bible each day.
By confessing and renouncing our sins as the Holy Spirit points them out to us.
By presenting our body a living sacrifice that we may prove Gods will for our life.
By coveting earnestly the gifts and ministries of the Spirit, and exercising the gifts and ministries we have.
By being sternly obedient to God when we understand His will for us.
By assembling with fervent believers on a regular basis (as possible).
By bringing each detail of our life to Christ so He may be guiding us at all times.
Anything short of this is not acceptable if we hope to inherit the Kingdom of God.
We are to make every attempt to reject a high opinion of ourselves, and to refrain from provoking and envying our fellow believers.
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)
Notice what James says about this:
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (James 5:19,20)
Snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fearhating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. (Jude 23)
And the writer of the Book of Hebrews:
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so none of you may be hardened by sins deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13)
Those who are strong should help the weaker believers.
I am under the impression the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Millennium) may have three purposes:
To govern the nations who are on the earth at that time.
To perfect the saints who will be ruling with Christ.
To teach the members of Gods elect who did not qualify to return with Christ but who must be helped to come to spiritual maturity. These people probably compose the majority of the elect.
The eighth chapter of the Song of Solomon speaks of the immature "sisters" who must be built up in the Lord.
Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
Those believers who struggle through the night, so to speak, in order to gain victory over the world, over lust, and over self-will, may be tempted to despise the Christians of lesser zeal. Our attitude should be, rather, to do all we can to help our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Gossip and slander abound in the Christian churches, as believers criticize other believers. We must never do this. This is Satans business, and he will gladly encourage and assist any Christian who is willing to find fault with another Christian.
If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:3)
Compared to God and Christ, all of us are no more than intelligent dust. It does not reflect favorably on us when we begin to imagine that we are better than other Christians, or even better than unsaved people. Whatever we are, we are because God has spoken to us and blessed us. Let us keep this in mind, because there is no place around the Throne of God for those who esteem themselves more highly than others.
Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, (Galatians 6:4)
If we have obeyed the Lord diligently, and God has given us some fruit, then we can be thankful, knowing we have served our generation. We cannot feed all the hungry of the world, or clothe all the naked. All that God asks is that we do what God has commanded us as an individual. Then we can pass into eternity knowing that God is pleased with us.
We need not compare ourselves with anyone else. Some Christians may bring thousands to Christ. Another Christian may have a ministry of intercession, or giving, or of the business administration of the church. God is not impressed with one more than the other. All God looks for is faithfulness in the tasks He has set before us.
For each one should carry his own load. (Galatians 6:5)
Each Christian has a load, a burden to carry. It is the face of the ox (of the Cherubim of Glory)
There are people who expect other people to carry their responsibilities for them. Perhaps most of us have experienced this. It is so in the present world. I am not certain concerning the future. The Bible says "each one should carry his own load." Let us not expect others to carry our load. I am certain those who have used other people to carry what should have been their responsibility will never eat at Christs table.
Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. (Galatians 6:6)
Pauls rule was that those who are taught should help support their teachers. Those who preach the Gospel are expected to live by the Gospel. Otherwise they get caught up in the problem of making a living and are not able to give their time and strength to the ministry of the Word.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8)
The above is a powerful passage and deserves a lot of thought. It presents a difficulty for those who insist we are saved by a sovereign act of God apart from our behavior.
Christians have argued that Christians do not reap what they sow, because they are saved by grace, not by what they sow, or by enduring to the end, or by anything else that sounds like "works."
However, if Paul is writing to Christians, which he obviously is, why should he speak about sowing and reaping if it does not apply to Christians? Why should Paul cease addressing Christians and refer to non-Christians?
The truth is, a Christian person will reap whatever he or she sows. This is a law of the Kingdom of God, and mercy and grace do not affect it.
If we keep yielding to our sinful nature, not turning away from it, not confessing our sins and renouncing them, then we will reap destruction in the Day of Christ. Every believer will receive in that Day whatever he or she has done while living in the body. It may be true there is no Bible truth more needed in the present day in America.
Hell is not mentioned, but may be included. Destruction may refer more to our condition than it does to where we are placed. Instead of being resurrected into eternal life we will come forth in a shameful condition, having no inheritance.
The liar will reap lying. The person filled with hate and unforgiveness will reap hate and unforgiveness. The sexually immoral person will reap sexual immorality. The gossiper will reap gossip. We will receive, in the Day of Christ, what we have done, unless we confess our sins, turn from them, and follow Christ.
To believe God does not see our lying, our hate, our unforgiveness, our sexual immorality, our gossiping, is to be deceived. God wants us to repent and will help us if we do. But we may wait until it us too late. Then we are going to be in terrible anguish in the Day of Christ.
By the same token, if we sow to please the Spirit of God, we will reap eternal life from the Spirit. The man who sows to please his sinful nature reaps destruction from his sinful nature. The person who sows to please the Spirit reaps eternal life from the Spirit. These results are natural and fair. What we reap in the Day of Christ will not come to us from afar but proceed from either our sinful nature, or from the Holy Spirit, depending on what or whom we have chosen to obey.
The above passage demonstrates conclusively that eternal life is not a gift God hands to us apart from any change of behavior on our part.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
Still talking about sowing and reaping. The believer who keeps on doing good, as he has opportunity, will reap a glorious harvest in the Day of Christ. His greatest reward, other than closeness to God, will be people who have been helped in their Christian walk by his prayers and dedicated life.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:10)
We ought to be kindly and helpful toward the people of the world, but our main efforts should be directed toward Gods elect. If we will pray and look around we may see that we are in a position to assist one of Gods elect. This is the same as assisting Christ, and He then regards us as one of His sheep.
See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! Galatians 6:11)
I believe Pauls eyes were bothering him so he wrote in large letters he could see.
Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. (Galatians 6:12)
Evidently Jewish Christians were teaching the Galatian believers that they must be circumcised. In those days, one could be punished for not being circumcised. The believer who consented to be circumcised would not be persecuted, even though he believed Jesus is the Christ.
Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. (Galatians 6:13)
Whoever these troublemakers were, they were hypocrites. They wanted to boast about the number of Gentiles they had persuaded to be circumcised, yet they themselves were not obeying the Law of Moses.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)
The cross puts an end to everything, doesnt it? Christs death on the cross signaled the end of the first creation. The first creation began when Christ created the spirit realm and its inhabitants, and then proceeded with the creation of the physical world. The first creation ended with the cross. "It is finished."
The second creation began when Christ was raised from the dead. The Spirit of God will work until every saved creature and every thing in Heaven and on the earth has been made new in Christ. God is making all things new, and making Jesus Christ the Center and Circumference of all.
When all has been brought into subjection to Christ, then Christ will be subject to the Father so the Father may be All in all.
There were three crosses at The Place of the Skull. The unrepentant was crucified there. The repentant was crucified there. And God was crucified there. "It is finished."
If we would be of the new, righteous creation, we must view our life before Christ as finished. All that should matter to us now is that which is of Christ in us. The old has passed away. The new has come. If we boast, we are to boast in the cross, for the cross has given us a new life.
Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. (Galatians 6:15)
Religion is only scaffolding. What matters from this point forward is that which is of Jesus Christ. Religious practices vary from generation to generation and culture to culture. Every aspect of our religion must contribute toward the forming of Christ in us.
Any part of our worship service that does not form Christ in us is a waste of time and strength. Sometimes musical "specials" are a complete waste of time. Like circumcision, it does not matter whether we practice them or whether we dont. The goal of all we are to be doing is the formation of a new righteous creation, prepared to live in the new world of righteousness. This is all that truly matters.
Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:16)
The Israel of God consists of everyone, Jew or Gentile, who has become part of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the finest sense of the word, it is Jesus Christ who is Israel. He is the One who struggles with God until the blessing comes.
Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. (Galatians 6:17)
My opinion is that these marks were caused by the many sufferings Paul experienced, including lashings by the Jews. The Jewish teachers who were seeking to persuade the Galatian believers to return to the Law of Moses had no such marks in their body. They were man-pleasers.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen. (Galatians 6:18)
The grace of God is infinitely more than forgiveness. The grace of God is the Presence of God in Christ, enabling us to perform all the will of God. Grace includes forgiveness. It also includes Divine Virtue, Substance (the body and blood of Christ), strength, wisdom, love, peace, and joy.
Yes, we are saved by grace, meaning God has come to us, forgiven us, and set our feet on the path that leads to eternal life. Our part is to receive by faith that which freely is given to us, and to work it out diligently in the holy fear of the Lord.
Let us be among those who refuse to use the term "grace" to mean God blesses us even though we are leading a casual Christian life, not using our gifts fervently for the benefit of Gods Kingdom.