Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Unless, of course, he isn't dead

In Galatians 1:6 Paul expresses his surprise, confusion and disappointment that the Galatians have so quickly abandoned the True Gospel, The Gospel of Grace, only to enter the bondage of works righteousness; which is no gospel at all. Before we move on the chapter 2, it is worth noting (to say the least) that Paul is no stranger to works righteousness. Paul is no stranger to trying to “earn favor” with God. After all, Paul spent most of his life doing exactly that and he summarizes and, to a certain extent, understates his religious zeal:
Galatians 1:13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.
14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.
Paul was so on fire to please God, and earn God's favor that his reputation preceeded him throughout the region:
Gal 1:22-23 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.
23 They only were hearing it said, "He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy."
Paul was more ultra religious than anyone else we can think of; yet it was all in vain. It was all worthless. Do you need any more proof that works righteous religion is a futile exercise that leaves you condemned forever. If salvation could be attained by any other means than The True Gospel, then Jesus Christ died that brutal death for nothing:
Galatians 2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
If you know this to be true, praise God, for it is by His Grace it has been revealed to you. You do not need fancy degrees or titles to know The Truth; and Paul makes that clear here in verse 6:
Galatians 2:6 But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.
We need to stand on this Truth and hold fast. The scene that follows in Paul's letter is very interesting. I'll sum it up: Peter, Jame s and John are convinced that Paul is the real deal. They offer Paul “the right hand” of fellowship; Paul is definitely one of them. That is not unreasonable; but what is unique, compared to our “go along to get along society”, is Paul's response to some things Peter was doing. Remember, Peter just offered Paul “the right hand of fellowship” which is a big deal, but then Paul wastes NO TIME rebuking Peter. Isn't that amazing? You can almost hear Paul saying something like, “Buddy or no buddy; you're wrong and I am not going to sit idle while to put forth this hypocrisy”:
Gal 2:11-14 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.
13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?
Did you catch that? Even Barnabas was led astray! We got Peter who (after 3 times denying Christ) you would think was done being a punk; and Barnabas (who was Paul's right hand man) falling back in to their old religious patterns! Old habits die hard, and if these boys got deceived (albeit, temporarily) we know we need to always be equipped with the full armor of God. The other little lesson here is; we can not compromise eternal doctrine for anyone! Non-eternal stuff, let's discuss it and dig in to The Word and prayer. Eternal stuff...NO COMPROMISE!

Here's the Foundation:
Galatians 2:16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
You do not need a muti-page doctrinal statement on how to get saved. A friend of mine recently did a short study on catholicism and found that there were over 20 pages on their website on how to be saved! WHAT! Anybody that preaches Christ plus anything shall be accursed....isn't that what Paul said in the first chapter?:
Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
Does this mean we can keep on sinning? NO WAY! If the old man is dead, how can he keep on sinning...unless, of course, the old man isn't dead:
Galatains 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

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