I’ve been posting through the book of Galatians and talking about legalism vs. our freedom in Christ. We’re looking at the Apostle Paul’s personal battle against legalism as he ministered to the Gentiles.
[This matter arose] because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.
Here, Paul gives the reasons for the struggle. The words that he uses are very scary. They should cause us to be wary of our motivations.
He’s specifically talking about a group known as the Judaizers. They were people who felt that in order to be saved, you had to trust Jesus and follow the rules contained in the Law of Moses. This was particularly hard for Gentiles to conform to. In essence, these Judaizers wanted us to become Jews first, before we could become Christians.
What concerns me is the fact that Paul calls these people false brothers. I think that puts legalistic people on dangerous ground. Can you truly trust Christ to save you if you think that your works play a major role in God accepting you?
Paul says that their goal was to spy on or watch with malicious intent, the freedom Christ bought for us. They want to see our freedom and then convince us that slavery is the better option.
“You have to obey the rules if you want to be a good Christian. After all, you can’t just live however you want and please God.”
That statement does have a grain of truth in it. But it will bring you into bondage that will keep you from growing in Christ.
The fact is, the Holy Spirit had a reason why He inspired both James and 1 Thessalonians before Galatians. They stress the truth that a believer must spend quality time in the Lord’s presence. It’s in this way that our lives will constantly be transformed into the Lord’s image.
That has to be in place first, before you can truly walk in God’s freedom. This is not a license to live by whatever your flesh wants to do. It’s a freedom to walk according to the Spirit’s desire with no need for a set of rules to “keep us on the straight and narrow.”
When I look at the life of Jesus, I see the same thing. He is the Messiah. Yet, He was always being accused of breaking the rules.
Paul understood this and wanted those under his spiritual care to be free from the bondage of religion. The Christian walk is not about conforming yourself to a set of traditional, religious rules of performance. It’s a personal relationship with Christ that’s constantly transforming us by God’s power.
The Apostle is writing to us from his personal experience. The lifestyle of following rules and traditions is hard to break free from. We see in Paul, the key to this release.
That’s why he says that he will never give in to them. That phrase means to yield in submission. Let me jump ahead for a moment so that you can see where Paul is bringing us to in this letter.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Between here and there, he gives a detailed look at how this freedom should work in us. That’s where we’re going over the next few weeks of these posts.
Question: How do rules hinder your spiritual growth?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017
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