Galatians Chapter 6

Welcome back, we are heading into the last chapter of Galatians! Paul continues to give instructions to the Galatians on how they should act. Let’s dive right in.

1 Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted. 2 Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But each person should examine his own work, and then he will have a reason for boasting in himself alone, and not in respect to someone else. 5 For each person will have to carry his own load.

After telling them to be good Paul goes to the end important point. If you see your brother sin you are to correct them. You are to do this with grace and gentleness be I alert so that you will not be tempted by the sin. We are to care for our brothers and sisters and help them carry their burdens. On the flip side Paul points out that if someone thinks they are a Christian then they should look at their works to see if they confirm it. Then Paul reminds us we should only look at ourselves as we know all the things we do and we should avoid comparing ourselves to our neighbor and instead compare ourselves to God’s standards.

6 The one who is taught the message must share all his good things with the teacher. 7 Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, 8 because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9 So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.

Paul moves on to comment that those who teach the gospel are entitled to payment. After this Paul reminds them that what they give is what they will get because God knows what they do. Therefore, we must not grow tired of doing good works but continue knowing it is for God and that we will spend eternity with Him. Do not give up because as you invest in others the time will come when your works in the Spirit will bring others to God. Since we know this we must work for the good of all.

11 Look at what large letters I use as I write to you in my own handwriting. 12 Those who want to make a good impression in the flesh are the ones who would compel you to be circumcised—but only to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even the circumcised don’t keep the law themselves; however, they want you to be circumcised in order to boast about your flesh. 14 But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world. 15 For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation. 16 May peace come to all those who follow this standard, and mercy to the Israel of God! 17 From now on, let no one cause me trouble, because I bear on my body scars for the cause of Jesus. 18 Brothers, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Paul then uses the next verse to let people know it is truly from him and not a false teacher Iain his name.  These false teachers are the ones tell I them to be circumcised. Paul knows they do this to avoid persecution and not for the good of God’s church. They cannot keep the law themselves but want the gentiles circumcised so they can boast about it. But Paul will boast only in God as should we all. Everything is made nothing in light of the cross. Circumcision means nothing as God brings in His new creation. He then prays for peace to all who follow Jesus and prays God will have mercy on Israel. He then closes the letter by telling them not to let anyone trouble them and to live in the Grace of God.

So What Do I Do With This Now?

All the information is great, but what do I do with it now?

1 If we see a brother or sister in Christ in sin we are commanded by God to confront them. We need to do so in grace and humility knowing that we too are open to temptation.

2 Do not compare yourself to others, but look at your own works and the standards of Christ.

3 Give to teachers and preachers as they are entitled to it.

4 Continue to do good works, do not give up on them as God will bring them to completion and use them in His time, and He will reward you.

5 Do not be concerned about impressing people, but crucify everything and follow God

Well thanks for sticking with me. We have made it through yet another book of the Bible and hopefully have learned and applied something as we went. Join me next week as we start a new book!

Chapter 1-Faith, Works, and God’s Call

Well it is time to keep moving forward with my book. It is a little rough as I have not had time to double back and check it thanks to being sick. Still, I wanted to put it out so people could read it and ask questions, that way I can continue to upgrade and edit it before I put it into a final form. I really want this book to speak into people’s lives and convict them so I want to make sure it is as easily understood as possible. Before I dive into any of God’s commands I choose to focus on the issue of works and on faith and how to please God as you continue in a relationship with Him. It may be a bit deep at times, but I kept it fairy short. Please let me know what you think and enjoy!

Chapter 1

            Chances are you have heard about the debate between works and faith. If you have not do not feel bad, you really have not missed anything important. This debate is primarily a misunderstanding. The debate is over salvation. There are many who know salvation is by faith alone. However, there are passages that talk about faith and works. The problem is that people have taken it to mean works are required for salvation. In response, some who know it is by faith have gone to an extreme to combat it and will not even talk about works. My goal in this chapter is show how faith and works play into a relationship with God. At the back of this book are several tables with verses. I will not use every verse as we talk about faith and works, but the table is there to show you every reference I found organized by the subject it talks about. It also has a table for Romans, Galatians, and a small part of James as these are the three major books that talk about faith and works.

Let us first establish what has often been said, that faith is the basis of salvation not works. Romans 3:27-31 talks about works and faith (the works it mentions are connected to the law of Moses seen in the book of Exodus and Leviticus). He shows through a long argument throughout the first eleven chapters that we are justified by faith not works. It is summed up in Romans 3:28 “For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” There is no argument about the basis of salvation, but there comes another part to Paul’s argument.

Starting in chapter 12 Paul transitions using the word therefore. Now anytime you see the word therefore you have to ask ‘what is it there for?’ I will try not to get too technical, but in this case therefore serves as a connector and transition from the first eleven chapters to the last five chapters. Paul first makes His argument for faith over the works of the law, but then finishes the argument talking about the huge grace God has shown us. Then he uses the word therefore. From there he goes into the second focus of the book, telling people how they should act and behave as children of God. What he is saying is literally ‘since we are saved by faith and have been given this astounding grace from God then it needs to impact us and change us, pushing us to do what we should.’ Now, I am not going to cover what he tells us to do here, as that will be addressed later. Right now, just follow the argument. Paul says that in faith we believe in God and He gives salvation, and that because of that grace we should be changed and desire to behave as God wants us to.

Romans is not the only place this is seen. Galatians is another book that deals largely with faith and works. After arguing for his authority in the first chapter and a half, Paul presents an argument nearly identical to the one in Romans. Again, he points out the law (and works) cannot save a person and that due to our own inability to follow the law we are condemned by it. However, God died and justified us by faith. The main point can be summarized by Galatians 3:2 “I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith?” Now, like Romans after he finishes his argument for faith he moves on to a secondary point. Paul points out the freedom of Christ and then asks the Galatians what has stopped them from obeying the truth. From there he uses another transitioning statement, ‘I say then,’ and then goes on to list behaviors and practices that they should be doing. This functions the same way as the therefore in Romans, connecting the first and second half of the letter. Again, he says, ‘We are saved by faith through God’s grace and as a result we ought to behave as He asks us to.’ Again, we have the logical result. Saving faith ought to change our lives in such a way that we desire to live as God wants us to.

This attitude of living a life that is worthy of the saving grace God has given us is an element that not only occurs in Galatians and Romans, but appears in six other letters of Paul. In fact, Paul tells his readers to walk worthy of the gospel they were called by in 2 Corinthians 4:1-6, Ephesians 4:17-5:5, Colossians 1:9-10, Philippians 1:27-28, 1 Thessalonians 1:11-12, and Titus 3:1-7. What is the point of bring all these up? Simple, to show you that Paul, the biggest advocate of faith and grace, nearly always put a second argument in those same letters about how that grace and faith ought to push us to do good works. He did not divorce faith from good works, only pointed out that it is not the works that save us. He was concerned with Christians works as it showed their trust in the gospel. Likewise, we cannot afford to separate the two, but must remember that works are not the cause of salvation.

Now we move into the book of James. Most people seem to think James is at odds with Romans and Galatians, but the truth is that it only adds to the point. James argument can be summed up in James 2:17, “In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.” People take these verses to mean that you are saved by works not faith, or works and faith. However, this is not the case. James makes his point clear in 2:19 when he says “You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.” James is saying that if you have ‘faith,’ and yet your life has not changed from it, it is a dead faith. The point he makes is that if you truly have faith in God, in a real relationship with God, then it must change your life. Works are the evidence that you truly have faith. If your ‘faith’ does not impact your life, then what good is it?

This is likewise confirmed in other books of the New Testament. 1 John 2:3 reads, “This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands.” Similarly 5:2 says, “This is how we know that we love God’s children when we love God and obey His commands.” In case you think this is just John then look at the words of Jesus. Matthew 7:15-20 reads:

“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging

wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or

figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree

produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce

good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the

fire. So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.”

How do you know if a teacher or leader is truly of God? By their fruit, or as we now call it, works. The point is still true for all believers. If you look at the chart in the back, you can see the many verses that say the same thing. Jesus evens says “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.” Faith is what brings salvation, but can you truly say you have faith if you do not desire to follow God’s words?

Now you see the issue that lay at the heart of these passages, love for God. The point of faith is not just to say you believe there is a God in control, but to be in relationship with Him. Jesus died on the cross not only to bring forgiveness, but to restore our relationship with God. Everything we strive to do must be done in that light, remembering it is a relationship. If we love God we will do what He wants us to do. God asks us to do these things because He desires to see us grow and thrive. He wants to see us desiring good and doing the things that please Him. When we seek our own ends, we are left bankrupt, feeling hollow and unsatisfied, but in following God we have His peace and satisfaction. We show our love and faith through obedience to God.

Now, if we have accepted this then we must do as God asks. Will we fail from time to time? Yes, but that is to be expected. However, we are not to continue in sin. If you continue in sin without concern, then you are showing an unrepentant heart. This just means that you show you do not love God. On the other hand, if you stumble, but ask forgiveness and continue to pursue God and deny sin. This is the attitude of repentance. If you are repentant of sin God is faithful to forgive and will strengthen you to stand against temptation. The only time it becomes a problem is when you stop trying to fight.

I hope that this chapter has given you a better picture of the Christian life and its focus on loving God. If you have, you will likely do what God desires of you. But how do you learn what God desires of you? That is what I will address in the rest of this book. I want everyone to see the commands of God and strive to obey them, but I am only human. I may miss something in scripture. I encourage you to read this book and apply it, but I also encourage you to read the Bible for yourself. To know God, you must know and apply His word. To apply His word, you must read it. Spend time every day reading God’s word and seeking to apply it, and pray to God each day for the strength to carry it out. The two most effective things you can do is to read your Bible and pray daily.

Galatians Chapter 5

Welcome back to Galatians! We are picking up at chapter 5. Last week Paul wrapped up chapter 4 with an analogy using Hagar and Sarah, the wives of Abraham. Paul continues here by expressing the freedom that comes through Christ through the promise made to Abraham and to Isaac. Let’s dive in as we prepare to finish up Galatians.

1 Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Take note! I, Paul, tell you that if you get yourselves circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all. 3 Again I testify to every man who gets himself circumcised that he is obligated to keep the entire law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything; what matters is faith working through love.

Freedom comes through Christ. Having been set free by Jesus we must not put ourselves back into slavery under a system of works-based salvation. If you try to make yourself righteous by works then Jesus is not benefiting you because you are again under slavery. Paul points out that if you try to follow one part of the law you will have to follow all of the law. By trying to earn our own salvation we become separated from God and have despised and rejected grace. We are to wait for righteousness that comes through the Holy Spirit, the only hope for us to be righteous. A point like circumcision on its own accomplishes nothing, but acting in faith and out of love is what accomplishes God’s will. It is interesting the way he says it, faith working through love. Faith is trust placed in God. We place trust in God because we love Him and because He is faithful, and He is faithful because He loves. The two seem to be inseparable.

7 You were running well. Who prevented you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion did not come from the One who called you. 9 A little yeast leavens the whole lump of dough. 10 I have confidence in the Lord you will not accept any other view. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty. 11 Now brothers, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated!

Paul has made his point about freedom and the ineffectiveness of the law and now turns to the Galatians themselves. He asks a question that has been burning within him, why? Who had stopped them from obeying the truth. This requirement to follow the law did not come to the gentiles from God, but from false teachers. Their teaching is destructive and spreads like a virus, or as Paul says like yeast in bread. However, even with all that has happened Paul expresses confident that they will agree with what he is saying. He also expresses that those that are teaching this false command will be punished for what they are doing. Paul then tries to get them to see the truth. If circumcision is part of Christianity, then why is Paul being persecuted? If circumcision is still required, then the cross is worthless because works are bringing salvation. The false teachers have so infuriated Paul that out of a righteous indignation and a bit of witty sarcasm he says he wishes they would go a step further and cut their privates off.

13 For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another. 16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Now Paul seems to know that someone will read his words and think they can do all kinds of sins since they are saved by grace. He is quick to tell them not to use this freedom to do the desires of the flesh, but to instead serve each other through love. In fact, the point and purpose of the law can be put into two major points, love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus says this in Matthew 22:34-40 when he is asked what is the greatest command. On the other side, if we instead fight against each other we will bring destruction on ourselves. We are to walk in the Spirit and in love, opposed to the flesh. The flesh will always look to do the opposite of the Spirit. Those who stay in the Spirit and allow Him to lead them are not slaves of the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

So, what are the works of the flesh? Sexual immorality. Well what’s that? Many things actually, so I will try to keep it brief. Sexual immortality can be broken into 2 categories, sexual acts outside of marriage and sexual acts with someone other than your spouse. The first is easiest to deal with. Literally all sexual acts (not talking hugging and kissing as long as your clothed) are prohibited before marriage. Now you can quibble over where to draw the line, but you should refer to Jesus’ words that anyone who lusts after someone has already sinned sexually. If you can do it without sexual feeling, appeal, or thrill then it is likely fine, but if it makes you lust you should not do it. As for the other there needs to be a basis. This applies to a man and a woman who are married. Before you ask God does not condone homosexual marriage anywhere in the Bible and it is not part of His design. Paul himself lists homosexuality as a sin in many of his other letters. That being said it is not some greater sin, it is a sin like all else and as Romans tells us we all have sinned. However, if you claim to be a believer then you need to have turned from that sin to do the things the Spirit leads us to do and that the Bible commands us to do. If you want a more in-depth argument there are many books and commentaries to read on the subject, but as for me I will end the argument here with God’s words and I do not intend to do more. Moving on, the other type of sexual sin is done in marriage when one spouse goes to someone outside of their marriage and has sexual relations of any kind with them. Promiscuity really hits both types and continues the ide, this is just more specific as it means the actual act of sex. It is what it is and there is nothing to add to it.

The next point is moral impurity. This is more vague, but touches on justice. It is the idea of compromising on the standards given in the Bible and doing what we know is wrong. It really encompasses all sins, but comments more on the loss of morals than the acts committed. The next ones can be paired down into groups. Hatred, selfish ambition, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, dissensions, factions, and envy all share the idea of anger and hate. Jesus talked about how hating someone was the same as murder. We are called to love and care for all people, regardless of whether they are Christians or not. On the same note we are called not to serve our own interests but to serve others.

Idolatry and sorcery both hold the idea of worshipping a different god and trying to call on them for power. The Bible points out that these ‘powers’ of sorcery actually come from demons. Now idolatry has more meanings. In fact, God often used it as a charge against Israel who would wander after other gods, but he also used it in conjunction with adultery. It is the idea of chasing after something other than God and giving it more importance. Idolatry is not just chasing false gods, it is putting something before God. For some people that becomes money, power, or even sexuality.

The last section consists of drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. Drunkenness should be obvious, referring to anyone who gets drunk. A sin that goes hand in hand with that is carousing. This is the idea of partying in a way where you indulge in various other sins such as sexual sins. Likewise, anything like this is of the flesh as well. There is not much more to say on this list. These are sins and do not please God. You either believe God’s word or you do not. If you do then you must stop doing these things.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. 26 We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Now in direct opposition to the works of the flesh we have the works of the Spirit. We are called to love, to be patience, to be full of joy (remembering what God has done for us), to be patient, to be kind, to be good, to be faithful (believing and trusting in God), to be gentle, and to exercise self-control. These are all things God approves of and there is no law against them. If we belong to Jesus, then the flesh and the works it produces are dead. In that case, we live by the Spirit. If we live in the Spirit, then we must follow the Spirit. We must not be conceited or provoke each other, but continue in love.

So What Do I Do With This Now?

All the information is great, but what do I do with it now?

1 Remember you are saved by faith and not works, however also remember that if the Holy Spirit is in you then you must not continue in sin.

2 Do not let false teachers lead you from the truths of scripture. You should check what they say against the Bible and be careful not to follow blindly. They may have good intentions, but if they are wrong it is still wrong.

3 We have freedom in Christ, but we are not to use this freedom to serve ourselves. We are called to serve others.

4 Do not do the works of the flesh, such as sexual sins, practice witch craft, put something before God, hatred or anger, drunkenness, or anything like them.

5 Do the good works God has prepared for you and remember that we are to be dead to the flesh and the sins it desires.

Well all, that was long. There is a lot of material here, and important commands. There are things we enjoy that are in fact sinful. We must repent and turn from these asking God for strength to overcome. Please press on and if you have been convicted of sin in your life please do not wait. Repent today and seek God.

What Christians Must Do-Introduction

I have made good progress on my topical study of what God desires of His followers and I thought I would start posting them to be read. Here is a short introduction that really focuses the book on its main theme. I pray to enjoy it and that it will really make you think.

Introduction-Of God and Men

Many times, I rack my brain trying to think of what might be the best, or most needed, thing to write on. I have done a lot of study and I can see the resources available. There are great books for faith and other topics, but there is one point that seems to be missing all together, at least from a writer in the last hundred years. It is odd when I think about it. Perhaps the first thing that happens when someone comes to Jesus is the joy of a new life. Through that joy, they want to know about God. It is a natural reaction and a beautiful desire. They have started on the journey of a relationship with God. They want to know God more, and part of that is wanting to know what God wants them to do. Here is where is book is concerned. The goal is to spell out God’s commands in Scripture and what He desires of us.

Every Christian, whether a new believer or one with a near life time with Christ should desire to draw in a deeper relationship with God. Now I know you likely have heard the term “relationship with Christ,” but many of you do not really know what that means. It’s not your fault, no one really tries to explain it. It’s not that they try to avoid telling people, but more that it is difficult to put into plain terms. I will do my best to give a satisfying answer, but bear with. As I said it is difficult.

Picture several relationships you have with other people. Think on your parents, a significant other, family relationships, or friends. Specifically think about good relationships, ones that are growing and in which you enjoy a closeness with the person. Think about what makes those relationships work. You likely talk to them often. You might confide things to them and share secrets. Those closest are there to help when you are going through hard times. You joke, you laugh, you cry. When you really draw close to family or friends you want to make them happy. You think about what they desire or need and try to do it. You seek to learn more about them and spend as much time as you can with them. These are the marks of a good relationship, and they apply in our relationship to God.

You might be thinking, ‘Woah! Hold your horses! How can I do the same kind of stuff with God that I do with a person?’ There is dangerous assumption there, as if because God is not a physical human being there is no way to interact with Him. That is false. We interact with God all the time and forget He is not stuck up in heaven. I know at times God can feel distant and we often feel as if He is not there, but that is more our attitude than it is fact. God is always there and always ready to be close to us, but often we are not engaging Him. Like any relationship, it is easy to blame the other person, unlike any other relation though God is perfect and the blame rests squarely on us. There are many ways we interact with God and we must be conscious of them so that we can improve them. That is how any relationship grows.

The first thing you thought of when talking about a good relationship was likely communication. Then, unsurprisingly when you thought about God you had to take a pause to try and see how that really works with Him. Obviously, you do not sit across a table from God and hold a conversation, but does that mean you do not communicate? Can God talk to us? Yes. How? Through the Bible, through circumstances, and through others. The Bible is God’s word to all people and as such reading it the same as hearing God speak. In the same way, when we listen to teachers and preachers present the word of God we are also hearing. God speaks to us, and we need to listen to Him. Listening involves reading His words and apply what God has asked us to.

‘Ok,’ you may be saying, ‘God can talk to us, but can we really talk to Him?’ Well, I am sure you have not forgotten about prayer. In prayer, we talk to God and believe it or not He listens. He hears all we say (see 1 John 5:14). For most people, prayer seems like a request list that never gets an answer. I need to note that God does answer our prayers, but sometimes the answer is no. When you pray for something and it does not happen that is God telling you no, or just not right now. They are not unheard or unanswered. A second point needs to be brought up as well. There is far more to prayer than just requests. Paul points this out in Ephesians 6:18 “Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request.” He has 2 categories, every type of prayer and requests. Looking at Jesus’ life we see some different prayers. He often thanked the Father and in His last moments before He was arrested He poured out His heart and thoughts. God is like that close friend we talked about earlier. You can tell Him anything and honestly you should tell him everything. I often pour out all that is on my heart and present it to God. It is after such prayer that I always feel God’s peace. This is the peace Paul peaks of in Philippians 4:6-7 and nothing compares to it.

Hopefully you believe that we can communicate with God, and that He communicates to us. However, there is another part to prayer. Another thing we pointed out in good relationships was time spent together. Prayer is spending time in God’s presence. Through Jesus we have access to the Father and we sit in His presence. Again, if you love someone you seek to spend time with them. The more we come to know and love God the more we will want to pray. I am not saying you will magically begin praying all the time and never get distracted. I love prayer and yet I often get distracted by something and before I know it I am going to bed and have not prayed. Things always come up, but just like you would make time for a spouse or loved one, we must also make time for God. We need to make that time, keep that time, and protect that time intentionally. If we do not we will become burnout, anxious, and stressed (by the way this is personal experience talking and it really is not a fun place to be, trust me).

So we talk with God, we spend time with God, that really leaves only one more thing that is natural and necessary to good relationships, seeking to serve the other person. Think about close family, friends or a significant other. When you really care, you tend to help them clean, or buy them gifts, or help them in other ways. You look for things you can do that will make them happy. No longer is it just about you, but about that other person as well. If we are said to love God then shouldn’t we look to do what will make Him happy? What is it that makes God happy? 1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.” God desires our love and attention and if we love the things of this world we do not really love God. John has more to say in 3:23-24, “Now this is His command: that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commands remains in Him, and He in him. And the way we know that He remains in us is from the Spirit He has given us.” When we keep God’s commands we show that we love God.

The next question you may want to ask is ‘what are the commands of God?’ And now you have hit the main point of this book. If we seek to do what God wants us to do, then we first we need to learn more about Him and His word. We must seek to learn what God likes and approves and carry it out. As we journey through the coming chapters remember what we have talked about. This is all about the love we have for God and the desire to do as He asks. In short, remember we are striving to build a relationship with God. If you look through this book and forget that, then it will be of no benefit to you. Good works on their own will not save you, and faith in God is dead if you do not obey His commands. With that I pray this book will help you to grow closer to God. Know that what you read will challenge you and that at times you will not like it, but please keep pushing forward to grow in your relationship with God. God bless and know that whoever you are I am praying for you through thus journey.

Galatians Chapter 4

Welcome to Galatians Chapter 4. Here Paul continues to talk about the law. To help his readers he uses an analogy, in this case using a known story relating to Abraham. He talks of Sarah and Hagar to show the difference of slavery and promise. Take a breath and dive in as we seek to know God’s word.

1 Now I say that as long as the heir is a child, he differs in no way from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. 2 Instead, he is under guardians and stewards until the time set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were in slavery under the elemental forces of the world. 4 When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Paul continues his visual of a guardian talking about how children are under a guardian until they come of age. Therefore, until that it is like being a slave because you do not get to make your own choices. Likewise, the law was our guardian until the appointed time, in this case the day Jesus came and died. Now we are no longer slaves to sin and the world, heirs and sons of God giving us the ability to cry out to God as our father. Paul spells out the gospel again that he came and fulfilled the law that we could become sons and daughters of God.

8 But in the past, when you didn’t know God, you were enslaved to things that by nature are not gods. 9 But now, since you know God, or rather have become known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and bankrupt elemental forces? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again? 10 You observe special days, months, seasons, and years. 11 I am fearful for you, that perhaps my labor for you has been wasted.

Before knowing God, we were slaves to sin and the thing if the world which are far short of God. Then Paul uses a turn of phrase. Because we now know God, actually because we have become known by God. What does that mean? God has graciously let Himself be known by man, something He was not obligated to do. He again condescends that we may come to know Him and He knows us. It is yet another picture of God’s grace. In light of that relationship with God and how we know the truth, how is it we can turn back to the foolish things that are so much less than God? In fact, things apart from God are bankrupt mean I they have nothing of value. Do you really want to be enslaved to those things again? Things you know cannot make you happy and will lead to death. The Galatians had become so focused on rituals and rules and had lost the heart of what mattered. They were devoted to the things that Jesus had done away with, going back to a system that could not save them, when they knew Jesus and His grace. As such Paul was worried about them.

12 I beg you, brothers: Become like me, for I also became like you. You have not wronged me; 13 you know that previously I preached the gospel to you because of a physical illness. 14 You did not despise or reject me though my physical condition was a trial for you. On the contrary, you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself. 15 What happened to this sense of being blessed you had? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They are enthusiastic about you, but not for any good. Instead, they want to isolate you so you will be enthusiastic about them. 18 Now it is always good to be enthusiastic about good—and not just when I am with you. 19 My children, I am again suffering labor pains for you until Christ is formed in you. 20 I would like to be with you right now and change my tone of voice, because I don’t know what to do about you.

Paul is urging the Galatians to become like him. He says to do this as he had become like them. What does that mean? In his visit, he did not distance himself because they were gentiles, instead he embraced Jesus grace for them over the rules of the law. That is Paul wants them to imitate. He goes on to describe how they once had been. They received him well, not caring that he was sick. They had been concerned over Paul to the point he felt they would have given him their eyes if they could have. They cared and were enthusiastic and so Paul asks the obvious question, what happened? Was Paul an enemy because he was not afraid to tell them the truth? He points out their new teachers were not truly concerned about the Galatians but only wanted to see the law enforced. Paul is pained by this, to the point that emotionally, he feels like a woman in labor. They are his spiritual children and as their father he cannot help but be distressed.

21 Tell me, those of you who want to be under the law, don’t you hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and the other by a free woman. 23 But the one by the slave was born according to the impulse of the flesh, while the one by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. 24 These things are illustrations, for the women represent the two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai and bears children into slavery—this is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written: Rejoice, childless woman, who does not give birth. Burst into song and shout, you who are not in labor, for the children of the desolate are many, more numerous than those of the woman who has a husband. 28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as then the child born according to the flesh persecuted the one born according to the Spirit, so also now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? Drive out the slave and her son, for the son of the slave will never be a coheir with the son of the free woman. 31 Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

Again, Paul hits them where they are putting trust, the law. He points out those who “know” the law and hits them with a story they would have known. Abraham had two children while Sarah still lived. One was through Hagar Sarah’s slave, while the other was the one promised who came through Sarah. He then likens the law to Hagar’s son, born not from God’s promise but as a slave. Sarah’s son though was born as God promised and inherited that promise, not slavery. Hagar’s son was born out of a lack of faith by Abraham and Sarah, while Isaac was born only through the faith in God. Paul uses this analogy to show the fight between the flesh and the spirit. We are to send out the ways of the flesh and follow God. Works without faith cannot save. God gives us His free gift of salvation and through it impacts our lives and changes us. We seek to do the good works He has prepared for us. For more conversation look at Galatians 2 bonus section at the end of the chapter about Faith and Works.

So What Do I Do With This Now?

All the information is great, but what do I do with it now?

1 Remember that if you have accepted God and been saved that you can cry out to Him. He is your Father, a perfect Father who loves you. Turn to Him for strength, talk with Him and love Him

2 We were once enslaved to other things before we received God. Do not go back to those things. Leave the sin behind and when you fall seek God and repent. We will struggle, no doubt, but we must not become comfortable with it, but turn away from it and cry out to our father to forgive us and He is faithful to forgive

3 Do not lose sight of love for God in the pursuit of righteousness. As you do good works remember why you do them, not for a sense of self-importance but out of love for God and the free gift He gave us.

Well, here we are at the end of the chapter. I really hope these words are impacting you. The word of God is powerful and it ought to change your life. If you are truly a Christian, if you truly love God, then these words will convict and change you. What is the most important thing we can do? Love God because out of that love will come the desire for good works, love toward your neighbor, and change in everything. Think about what He has done for us! His love, suffering and justice in making a way for us to come to Him. To call Him Father! Us who are such sinners, who fail daily. Praise His name! And listen to his words. As Jesus says in Luke 11:28 “those who hear the word of God and keep it are blessed!” Please keep His word and have a blessed day.