Final thoughts and summary

INDEX

Read Galatians 6:11-18

The "Judaisers" were like those who would dig up the harvest before it's ready, just so that they can claim another member for their religious group. They wanted to turn the Galatian believers into Jewish converts. This was not out of great respect for the old covenant law because they didn’t fully obey it themselves. As such, they were hypocrites. What was worse, though, was that they were stopping the Galatians from receiving true salvation by grace. (Matthew 23:13)

There are religious leaders today who boast about numbers and all that their particular "religion" or denomination is doing, but their boasting will be entirely in vain. Paul says: “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. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcised means anything; what counts is a new creation." (Galatians 6:14-15) There is only one person Who can save us – Jesus.

Where do we stand?

Can we honestly say that we have been "crucified to the world"? How much do we really care about what we have in life: our job, our position or status, our car, our home, or any other possession that we have? Do we we put any of these things ahead of our love for our Saviour and Lord - Jesus Christ? What about the things that we say? Jesus said: "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks". (Matthew 12:34) How do we measure up to that? Let's think about the cross. Jesus was executed as a common criminal. In human terms, such a death is shameful and contemptible. Certainly, at that point in history, the Roman cross was a symbol of weakness, defeat and death. Nevertheless, it is this cross that the apostle, Paul, boasts about. Why? Because it is only through Christ’s death on the cross that salvation becomes possible for human beings. Paul has no confidence in the human spirit and no optimistic hope that humanity will survive, come what may. All natural thoughts and desires have died in him. Instead, he puts all his faith in the cross of Christ. He believes that his "old self" died at the cross, with Christ but that, through faith in Christ, he has become a new, spiritual being: a child of God. All those who follow Paul's example and teaching are citizens of a new kingdom and true members of God's family.

Proud to belong

Paul told the Galatians that he now had permanent "marks of Jesus" in his body, that were mementos of the persecution that he had received. These "marks" were similar to the branding used to indicate that an animal (or slave) was somebody's possession. Paul bore the marks of his suffering on behalf of Jesus as he took the good news to the non_Jewish people. These were the results of having been stoned (Acts 14:19) and beaten (Acts 16:22 and 2 Corinthians 11:25). They marked him out as a "servant of Christ”. He belonged to Jesus entirely - with every fibre of his being - and he was proud of it!

What about us? Can we say that we bear in our bodies the marks of Jesus, be they spiritual, physical or emotional? "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [but seek to please Him] by whom you were sealed and marked [branded as God’s own] for the day of redemption [the final deliverance from the consequences of sin]. (Ephesians 4:30)

Even though Paul had severely rebuked these Jewish interlopers in his letter, he still calls them "brothers". They are like sheep who have gone astray. They have followed after false shepherds. But Paul still loves them. He prays that they may receive the highest blessing of all: the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Summary

This letter describes how Paul was called, by God Himself, to preach firstly to the Jewish people and then to everybody else. He starts by telling them his own story: how he first met Jesus and became a Christian, then went off to Arabia by himself to listen to what God had to teach him through the Holy Spirit. Paul knew that Jesus had redeemed him (paid a ransom for his freedom) from the curse of the old covenant law. Without that intervention, he would have been destined for eternal death – separation from God for ever. Jesus had taken his place and became cursed Himself, so that Paul might go free.

Paul then discusses the differences between the old covenant law and the new promise given by Jesus: the law versus faith. He sets out some statements of faith that, as believers in Jesus today, we continue to affirm and believe: Jesus is the Son of God. He was born of a virgin. He lived on this earth for thirty-three years. He was sinless. He was executed on a Roman cross as a criminal. He took all our sins and diseases in His own body. Those who put their faith in Him do not have to pay the price for wrongdoing, but inherit all the covenant promises that have been given throughout the Bible. Jesus has paid the full price for all our sin here and now and also for our future security with Him. What amazing promises! It is worth abandoning all our own hopes and desires, just to live for Him.

This "good news" is far more than can ever be written on paper. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to us personally what He wants us to know. We need to to grow in our relationship and intimacy with Him, as He shows us all He has done just to include us in His family. "Selah!" It's a Hebrew word that means: "stop and think of that!"

Let's encourage one another

Paul wanted his readers to enter into the fullness of their inheritance and to stay away from sin. He wanted them to be led by the Holy Spirit, rather than by the acts of the old, sinful nature. How do we know that we are living in the Spirit? The answer is simple. The fruit of the Holy Spirit will grow in us and be evident in our lives! "When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; and here there is no conflict with Jewish laws." (Galatians 5:22-23)

Paul encouraged them by saying in Galatians 5:24-26 (Amplified version): “If we belong to Christ Jesus we have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. If we [claim to] live by the Holy Spirit we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character and moral courage – our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit]. We must not become conceited, challenging or provoking one another, envying one another.” As the Spirit is the source of our life, we must also allow the Spirit to direct every aspect of our lives and encourage us to "die" to ourselves daily.

Paul says that because we're saved, we should live as though it's true! The Holy Spirit is the source of our new life, so we choose, daily, to keep in step with His leading. Don't let anything or anyone else determine your values and standards in any area of your life. We all want a certain amount of approval from others, but those who go out of their way to secure honours or to win popularity with a lot of people can become conceited. This simply proves that they are not following the Holy Spirit's leading. Those who look to God for approval won't need to be envious of others. Because we are God's sons and daughters, we have His Holy Spirit as the loving guarantee of His approval.

A final word

As we have repeated over and over in these studies, people are saved only through faith in the Son of God - Jesus Christ - and all He did on that cross of calvary. The cross of crucifixion was an offence to Jewish people and they persecuted anyone who preached about it. It is the same today. People find it very offensive to hear us say, "Jesus Christ is the only way to God". But, once we know the reality of Jesus in our hearts, we must speak the truth boldly. Let's pray for all our unsaved loved ones. Let's ask the Holy Spirit to show us what is blinding their minds against the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ. What stumbling blocks are in their lives from past traumas? We may need to confess that we have been judgmental about people because such attitudes can block our prayers from being answered. Ask the Holy Spirit what are their "seeds of destiny"? We can pray for justice for them in the "courts of heaven" because they have been deceived by the enemy. Expect Father to respond to your prayers, even sending angels to do His bidding and ensure that they are in the right place at the right time. It is so exciting to see people come to know Jesus and the difference it makes to them. We also need to encourage new disciples to grow in their relationship with Jesus and to understand that they need to daily be baptised in the Holy Spirit so that they can see His fruit in their lives (as Paul mentions in Galatians). Finally, we need to make sure that they are not deceived by false teachers - as we have seen with the Galatians themselves.

In the light of this wonderful letter, what shall we do with our lives?


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