I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law. 4-6I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior:faith expressed in love. ~ Galatians 5:2-6~ the message
Were you taught certain things as a child that you believed to be true. It was what everyone in your circle practiced.And anyone who didn’t practice these things was an outsider. They could be reached but you must not step too close or you may get sucked in to their belief system that was unlike your own.
In the church, we are especially “good” at this.
And it looks like the church of today is not that far from what the Galatians were struggling with. Paul is telling them essentially throughout the whole letter… Stop it! He’s even rebuking other leaders…such as Peter. Some important church leaders were requiring circumcision for those who were not of Jewish decent.
The Jews knew circumcision. They were raised on it. It was of utmost importance. God had said so. So for generations their people had practiced it. It had always been done this way.
And here comes Paul telling them it’s not the most important thing. It’s in fact a side issue. No longer the main player in deciding who the people of God were. And it was troubling to many.
It prompted me to start thinking about what the new circumcision is for the church today?
Maybe its style of worship. Maybe its certain programs in the church that are “sacred cows”. Things that are fine and good in themselves but have become too important in your body. Maybe its dress. Perhaps it’s a fruit of the Spirit such as Peace, Or Feeding the hungry, or Prison Ministry. Maybe it’s clothing poor people or taking in orphans. Perhaps it’s visiting the sick or helping widows. Maybe it’s which denomination you are a part of. Or how you interpret end times. Perhaps it’s tongues or words of prophecy.
What would Paul say to your church? Would he tell you that you have exalted something above Salvation through Faith in Christ alone.
Do we get “disappointed” with each other because someone isn’t following the traditions (some are very good ones) that I have been taught and hold tightly to. Maybe people don’t know the language we were raised with so we discount one another. Reasoning if they were truly saved they would not say such things. Or they would know how important these teaching are.
What are we doing?
We are making those things as important as the circumcision was to the Galatians and early Jewish Christian. We have in essence made a mockery of Christ’s death. And Faith through Believing in him alone.
While we may not say certain things save us. We live as if they do. We condemn and look down our noses on others who haven’t seen the light.
Does that mean that works aren’t important?
They absolutely matter.
13-15It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?
If we are saved we should be showing more fruit this year than we did last.
But the fruit doesn’t save me.
And it doesn’t save you.
The fruit is an expression of our walk.
But so often we take the fruit or perhaps the tradition and we make it our walk. We make it a test of faith for others.
16-18My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
If I live by the Spirit I will not make the Law my salvation.
I will allow Christ to live through me so the law can still be my guide. But not my salvation. ~So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. gal 3:24…meaning the law was a child guide bringing us to Christ.
It’s tricky. And it seems we get it turned around.
If I live to my flesh this is my result…
19-21It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.
And when we are walking in the spirit our fruit looks like this…
22-23But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
All good things right? But when we take anyone of those and make it the star of the show…
We have made it the new circumcision.
Faith in Christ alone.
We start there. And when we truly grasp what he saved us from…..When we truly give our lives in surrender….. The outpouring is lives that want to bring him honor. Lips that speak of what he has done. Hearts that love more compassionately than they did before.
25-26Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.
That my friends is so exciting!
You can be exactly what Christ called you to be.
Not comparing ministries with your neighbor. Not deciding your call is what everyone else should be passionate about. But living out your walk in the way his Spirit directs you.
It’s liberating to know that he has called us to be free in Christ.
Free not to live a lifestyle that is hurtful to ourselves and others. But free to live for him.
Not under the law of circumcision but not apart from it either. It was that which led us to Faith.
Anything that sets itself up as most important. Anything… no matter how good can replace our worship to God.
It’s not about what others think of us. It’s not comparing ourselves with each other.
It’s about being changed from the inside.
It is about Faith alone.
Anything other than that takes credit from the one who freely laid down his life so we could live.