Galatians and the Law

The Problem

Galatians is a great book: read it!  There are also no “o”s in the name, which caused me no end of difficulty writing this.  It is a letter to a part of the church, people who know the Truth but are turning away from it:  “I am surprised and astonished that you are so quickly turning renegade and deserting Him Who invited and called you by the grace (unmerited favor) of Christ (the Messiah) [and that you are transferring your allegiance] to a different [even an opposition] gospel” (Amplified Bible: Galatians 1:6).  These are Christians then, but Christians who are being tempted to cease their obedience to God and to be “burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (NIV: Galations 5:1).  Reading the rest of the book, it is fairly obvious that this refers to the Law, and trying very hard to be justified before God by their own efforts (see Galatians 5:2-4 for example).

The Solution

However, it is the solution which is most interesting to us (since we must not fall for the same trick that was re-enslaving the Galatians).  We must first be in a situation where we are “believing what [we] have heard” (Galatians 3:2), and from there we must continue to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16-26).  This passage, to verse 26, describes the amazing change in the life of the believer, but ends with a solid warning against arrogance: after all it is God who wrought the changes, and we contributed… oh yes, our wretchedness!

Something to act on…?

You will also note that in Galatians 3:2-5, there is mention that God is (present tense) giving His Spirit and working miracles among them, as a direct consequence of their belief.  This is Paul writing to them, as my wife pointed out, so he’s not there, so this is not an apostles only thing, this is God being in power with His people.  Miracles are commonplace*, so much so that Paul pairs them with the presence of God’s Spirit as the evidence of his argument.  I often wonder why Christians (most definitely including myself here) find it very hard to believe God can or will do a miracle.  Asking the All-Mighty God who made the universe to heal chicken-pox or even to raise the dead… it’s not going to be difficult for Him.  The only time He wanted a break (1 day off only) was after the six days of creation in which he made everything: it is hardly likely my request is going to exhaust Him!  It would be a bit like asking this bloke (see image)

Strong Man Competition

Strong Man Competition (Photo credit: Michael @ NW Lens)

to lift a grain of sand (only less difficult).  And that right there is the problem: I can say I believe in miracles all I want, but unless I step out totally in the Spirit of His Son Jesus to do “even greater things” (John 14:12) than Him (only, of course, through His Spirit: no boasting!), I have not put my trust fully into practice.  I have a strong feeling there are a lot of Christians in my position, who need to build up spiritual muscle: pray and fast, read the scriptures and get encouragement from one another!  Encourage and admonish: walk in the light, confessing sins to one another!  (none of these commands are new- they are just from Bible passages, nor do they earn favour with God (legalism)- they help us! (was man made for the Sabbath or the Sabbath for man?)).  And think about how to act in ways that show total trust of Him!  A challenge: what would our faith look like if we utterly trusted in the promises of Jesus?  Because John 14:12 is just one of many!

Feel free to post comments/advice/replies to this (though if you’re new see the “about” section for what constitutes useful comments).  Who knows: this might be your first chance to admonish or encourage after reading this.

For examples of what living in the Spirit looks like, I can recommend the books by Colin Urquhart, starting with “When the Spirit Comes”.

When the Spirit Comes (Hodder Christian paperbacks)

*Do balance this out with what Paul writes about the apportioning of the Spiritual gifts among His people (1 Corinthians 12:27-31).  Not everyone does everything all the time… but still it is hard to see how it is really possible to interpret this passage honestly as saying that we will not experience miracles…

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