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Thursday, August 29 2019
Contributor: Martins Olubiyi
Introduction: Last week we looked at the issue of freedom as it relates to the message of Paul found in his letter to the church of Galatia. Now that we know we are free in Christ; how do we live? If we are not to live in the circumcision of Law, how will others see us different from the world? How can we display our faith in Christ through the Spirit to others so they will know that we are different than the rest? Today by the grace of God we shall endeavour to provide answers to these questions as we continue in this lesson.
Aim: The aim of this study is to examine how to live in the liberty of Jesus. Using liberty to love each other and using liberty to walk in holy living.
How to live in the liberty of Jesus
13 For you brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself”. 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
2. (Vs 16-18) Using Liberty to Walk in Holy Living
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Conclusion: The triumphant Christian life is a life by the Spirit. It is to live in the liberty of Jesus. Our liberty must be used to love each other and not as an opportunity to sin. You as a believer must consciously walk in the Spirit and ensure that the words of God dwell in you richly so as not to fulfil the desires of the flesh.
Culled from Enduring Word Bible Commentary Galatians Chapter 5.
Friday, August 23 2019
Contributor: Dolapo Olaoye
INTRODUCTION: So far we have learnt about how Paul defended himself against the charges against his integrity and authority as an apostle while also writing some harsh words to those who bring lies (Chapters 1 and 2). Paul goes on to document the gospel revealed to him was God's intent from the beginning, tracing his documentation back to the promises of God to Abraham (Chapters 3 and 4) that they need nothing other than faith in Christ in order to be saved. Now, we will start to look at how Paul explains the aim of the gospel as true freedom, not only freedom from the Law but also from the bondage of sin. (Chapters 5 and 6).
THREE KEY WORDS (VS 1)
WARNING: Attention Drawn to The Warning About Circumcision (VS 2-6)
There are many various beliefs that some certain acts (i.e.: Baptism) can secure you a place in heaven and many do these things just to gain salvation which is not correct. The Galatian Christians looked at circumcision in a similar light and here Paul directly confronted the issue of circumcision. Circumcision was viewed as an act that lead to salvation (Act 15:1), which although painful and inconvenient, was a small price to pay to be more spiritual/saved. Vs 2 then highlights the point that if you believe all you needed to do for salvation is circumcision then you naturally will lack faith in Christ for salvation.
These days if an unbeliever is baptized, he or she won’t be any better off, or any worse off just because they are now baptized. However, when the Galatians performed the circumcision act, it carried with it much bigger consequences, but they did not seem to understand that. Circumcision then implied certain binding obligations.
Paul decided to focus on the issue of circumcision in these verses to point out the consequences of circumcision (highlighting that there is a high cost – Everything was in line to be lost by it and nothing was to be gained) as although maybe some of the Galatians have already practiced this act, there would have been others still thinking on whether or not to do it.
He begins vs 2 with “Listen! I, Paul, tell you this” trying to express the gravity of what the warnings he is about to pass on to the Galatians. The introductory words are used to shock the Galatians into a realization of the seriousness of circumcision which some might be contemplating on. Paul was in fact rebuking them for even contemplating the idea at all
In vs 3 Paul points out the fact that anyone who is circumcised is looking to establish their righteousness before God simply by keeping “laws” and no longer by faith. While in vs 4 Paul lets them know if they do then they have “been cut off from Christ” and “fallen from grace”. However, please note Paul’s teaching here does not indicate that anyone submitted to circumcision immediately lose their salvation but rather he is stressing the implications of circumcision (an acknowledgement that one is enslaving themselves under the law – turning from grace and setting aside Christ work which is wrong). Sometimes we do things when we are not fully aware of the terms and conditions and what Paul was doing here is making it clear to the Galatians that circumcision wasn’t just an act like they thought it carried far much more implications.
Vs 5 and 6 brings Paul’s arguments against submitting to circumcision to a close. Here he mentions two characteristics of Christian faith and practice.
ASSESSMENT: Consider the Apostolic Viewpoint (VS 7-12)
In verse 7 Paul moved on from the advice against circumcision to the people supporting circumcision. He started the verse by pointing out how the Galatian saints had once “run well,” but were no longer doing so. Something happened at some point which is now hindering them from obeying the truth they were well aware of before.
Paul then in verse 8 in trying to eliminate the source of the change in the Galatians points out the obvious truth that it was certainly not from God. This is very important, because when we Christians turn from the truth that we know to error (deciding to be disobedient), we almost always try to give God the credit or say God told me this is the way now (remember God NEVER changes! – Same yesterday, today and forevermore). Been deceived and trying to prove that they have seen a new truth and that their sins are sanctioned by God. That’s what Paul disregarded here making it plain that they had turned from the truth, openly giving out to them that God was not the author of their error but rather, their change had come from another source.
Paul uses the exact same expression he used in 1 Corinthians 5:6 in verse 9: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” In 1 Corinthians 5:6, Paul used it to express how letting a man’s moral sin go unchallenged was a corrupting influence on the entire church. The principle here is simple: what seems to be a little thing can do a lot of damage. Paul uses this phrase to show them how much damage a seemingly little thing (such as circumcision) can do.
Verse 10 is a display of Paul’s confidence in all of this. In trusting the Lord he is confident that they will not adopt a different gospel/teaching and he is also confident that God will deal justly with those confusing and causing trouble in the Galatian churches. Paul is confident of the destiny of the Galatian saints, because he knows without a doubt that it is God who has called them, and God is faithful to fulfil His purposes (Phil 1:6). Hence why Paul is so confident that God will deal in justice with those who lead others astray (2 Peter 2).
The principle in verse 11 is clear. The false teachers were teaching that Paul himself encouraged circumcision. After all Paul arranged for Timothy to be circumcised in Acts 16:3. Therefore, Paul had to disprove this claim by pointing out that he was still being persecuted. He was ridiculed because he did not preach circumcision. If he continued to preach circumcision, as he had done prior to his salvation, he would not be persecuted. The fact that he was still persecuted proved that he did not, as the false teachers implied or stated, preach circumcision.
Paul’s aim in verse 12 was to press the error of the false teachers who were teaching that circumcision contributed to a man’s righteousness. Surely if cutting off a little flesh is good, cutting off more flesh is even better. The words Paul used here “I would they would even cut themselves off” (NKJV) expresses his wish to the false teachers for God to judge them so that they will cause no more harm to the churches. Paul does not speak out of hatred, but out of a passion to the glory of God and for the good of his people.
Applying the above to this present days, some believe in the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. To those who hold this doctrine, salvation cannot be obtained other than by means of baptism. Apart from changing the ritual from circumcision to baptism, this teaching does not differ from the above. There are other “rituals” which fall into this same category so let us beware of viewing some “rite” as the passageway into a higher spiritual standing!
Very simply, anyone who trusts in Christ has been set free. The Galatians were in danger of wasting that KNOWN freedom, by swerving off in one of two directions. We should do well to steer clear of any such deviations.
Thursday, August 15 2019
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
INTRODUCTION: In our last study, we considered and reiterated the truth that we (as believers in Jesus Christ) are children of God through our faith in Christ Jesus and not by our observance of the law given to Moses. We will continue in digging deeper into this truth as we consider the allegories between two distinct covenants, distinguishing the life of faith (freedom) from that of the flesh (bondage). This is key to successful Christian living under this current dispensation.
VERSES 8-11: “But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.”
According to Scripture, there are two kinds of people in the world: the free and the enslaved. The categories are not physical but spiritual. The free are those who, by faith in Jesus Christ, are no longer under the dominion of sin, guilt, condemnation, and death. Jesus purchased an eternal redemption from this spiritual bondage by his atoning sacrifice on the cross. And this glorious freedom is for all who put their trust in Christ (John 8:36).
On the other hand, those outside of Christ are in a state of spiritual bondage. This describes the natural condition of all of us. Because of sin, we are helpless to make ourselves right before God and escape his just judgment. Nothing we can do can atone for our past sin, and we are unable to do anything meeting God’s perfect standard of holiness. This is the bleak reality Jesus taught. “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34).
The apostle Paul tells the Galatians that, because God sent forth his Son into the world, they are no longer slaves but sons of God (4:4-7). And they have come into this freedom not on the basis of the good works they have done, but because they put their faith and trust in Christ as their Savior. Our justification, which is true liberty, is by faith alone.
But because false teachers have crept into the churches and have persuaded the Galatians they need to keep Jewish laws in order to be saved, Paul fears the Galatians may be losing the very freedom that the gospel promised.
VERSES 12-14: “Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all. You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.”
Become like me – This means to give up relying on works and self-righteousness like Paul had already done. See Philippians 3:4-10. They needed to realize what Paul already realized, that works could not save them.
For I have become as you are – 1 Corinthians 9:22. Paul ministered among them. He adopted their customs, ate their food, stayed in their homes. He became like one of them to win them for Christ. He became like them (outwardly) so that they could become like him (inwardly).
Firstly, we should follow Paul’s ministry example. We should not be separate from those we minister to. We should make sure that our habits, language, and dress do not offend them. Secondly, we should remember the goal. Our goal is not just to fit in. We try to become like those we minister to (outwardly) as a mean to an end. The end goal is their salvation. We want them to become like us. We must therefore be careful that we only become like them outwardly and not inwardly. Some churches have attempted to become like the world to win the world. But if you become like the world then there is nothing left to win the world too because we aren’t any different than they are.
You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first – God uses all things to work together for good. Even suffering, illness, disasters, and disease are used by God to accomplish His purposes. At the time, Paul’s illness certainly wouldn’t have seemed like a good thing. It was obviously painful and inconvenient, painful enough to change his ministry plans. What good could come out of such agony? The answer is: a lot! The church at Galatians was evidently established because Paul went there to recover from his illness.
VERSES 15-20: “What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me. Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them. But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you.”
VERSES 21-26: “Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.”
VERSES 27-31: “For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband.” Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.”
Therefore, spiritually speaking, Sarah is the mother of all Christians—of people whose lives are not merely the product of human resources but of God's supernatural work in their heart. Our real life is not, like Ishmael's, simply owing to the work of man. Our real life is owing to the work of God in us fulfilling his promise to make for himself a people (Genesis 12:1–3) and to put his Spirit within them (Ezekiel 36:27) and write his law on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).
CONCLUSION: Finally, Paul concludes in verse 31 that we—that is, we who live by faith in the Son of God and don't rely on what we can achieve on our own—are not in the slave category but in the category of the free.
Thursday, August 01 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study, we looked at the relationship between the Law and the Promise and how Paul directed the attention of the Galatians to the enduring covenant that God made with Abraham and the temporary law that God gave to Moses. We learnt that Paul’s epistle to the Galatians and ultimately us was to make us fully appreciate the meaning and significance of Christ’s work of redemption.
In today’s study we see Paul continuing with the significant work Christ did by explaining further what it means to be God’s children through faith; and what the purpose of the Law was before Christ came.
VERSES 23-24: BEFORE FAITH CAME
“Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed. 24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.”
Here we see the purpose of a loving God acting as a shepherd, protecting His people from the lions and wolves that would otherwise have them for lunch. As the Shepherd, He provided the law to keep us safe as sheep would be shut up in a sheep pen for the night with the shepherd guarding the entryway to keep them safe. Before Christ came, God gave the law to keep people from straying into dangerous territory so that they would be prepared “for the faith which should afterwards be revealed”—faith in Jesus.
A story is told of children who lived near a cliff. They couldn't go out to play because they were afraid of falling off the cliff. So one day the adults built a very high wall at the cliff's edge; so the children where now able to play without fear. Instead of restricting them, the wall liberated them!
So it was with the law. God gave it for the people’s protection. He gave the law as a mentor to guide the people of Israel as a way of preparing them for Christ. The law gave them a framework for moral behaviour, and the prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah. And when Christ came, he changed the emphasis from salvation by merit (an impossibility) to salvation by the grace of God through faith in Christ.
VERSES 25-27: NOW THAT FAITH HAS COME
“And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. 26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.”
As born-again Christians, we respect the Jewish law, because we find great wisdom there. But we no longer look to the law for our salvation, but instead turn in faith to Christ.
When Paul talks about putting on Christ, he uses this clothing metaphor to describe a transformation that God has wrought in their lives. While clothing might seem merely external, as contrasted with a change of heart, Paul uses this clothing metaphor to describe a truly changed person. People who have put on Christ are new people—redeemed people—forgiven people—people whose demeanour and actions (external) reflect the fact that God has given them a new heart (internal).
VERSES 28-29: WE ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS
“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.”
We are Now One: In verse 28, Paul mentions some of the many divisions that separate people—Jews vs. Greeks (Gentiles), slave vs. free, male vs. female. These are hardly the only major divisions that keep people apart. Paul doesn’t intend these three divisions (Jew vs. Greek, etc.) he cited as comprehensive, but rather as illustrative. Others include rich vs. poor, literate vs. illiterate, First World vs. Third World, black vs. brown vs. white, Asian vs. European, socialist vs. capitalist, the list goes on and on. The truth however is this:
In Christ, all the barriers that divide one person from the other person are rendered null and void.
This was what Jesus prayed about in John 17:20-21, 23. He prayed, not only for his disciples of that day,
“but for those also who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me…that they may be perfected into one”.
We are Now Heirs: In Genesis 22:18, God promised that through Abraham’s Seed all nations on earth will be blessed because Abraham obeyed Him.” Galatians 3: 16 says:
“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.”
The coming of Jesus, the “Seed” has made all Christians become “Abraham’s seed and heirs according to promise.”
An heir a person legally entitled to the property or rank of another on that person's death. One who has the legal right to an inheritance. The word promise is from the word epaggelia which suggests a gift rather than something that a person can win by hard work. In that sense, it is akin to the word grace, which is the free gift of salvation—something that God bestows on us rather than something we have earned.
CHAPTER 4:1-4: IMMATURE HEIRS
“Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves an inheritance for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had. 2 They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set. 3 And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world”.
Paul goes further to explain what he meant in Chapter 3: 23-29 and makes it even clearer to the Galatians. It is only until an heir is mature before they can have their inheritance. Before Christ came, we were like such immature children – slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world”.
VERSES 4-7: THE AMAZING PURPOSE WHY GOD SENT HIS SON
“4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6 And because you are children, God sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, “Abba, Father! 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.”
The reason that God sent his Son into the world (a human under the same circumstances as the commoner) was to accomplish two things. The first was “that he might redeem those who were under the law” (the Jewish people). The second was that “we might receive the adoption as children.” (You and I!)
Apart from our adoption into God’s family, being no longer slaves but God’s own children, He has also given us the gift of the Holy Spirit - the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying, “Abba, Father!”
“Abba! Father!” is the kind of phrase that a small child would use for his/her father. It is a sign of God’s love that he permits this kind of intimacy, not just from the great saints, but from all saints.
Note that Paul used the word “you” (singular) instead of “we”
Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir. This a very personal statement. It applies to each of the Christians to whom this letter is addressed; and to each of us who reads it today in faith. We are brought into proper relationship with God as individuals not en masse. Through faith in Christ we have been transformed from slaves to sons and daughters; adopted into God’s family and engrafted into God’s family tree.
The consequence of being a child of God is inheritance (v. 7). The Galatian believers had been told that they must be related to the descendants of Abraham through observance of the law in order to inherit the promises God made to Abraham. But Paul has now demonstrated how faith in Christ makes one a child of God and so an heir of God. None of us can make ourselves children or heirs of God. Only God can make slaves into sons and daughters, and sons and daughters into heirs. And we can only receive this gift by faith! Also, the promise of inheritance is the promise of the Spirit. (Gal.3:14b). “so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”
Our greatest inheritance is not only the abundance of things the Father gives us, but the character of his Son which the Spirit of his Son is forming within us.