Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Walking with the Spirit (Considering Galatians), Pt. 7


Well...better late than never...and it was almost "never." (Not really...but, if one procrastinates or is distracted long enough, it might seem like it :-).  However, on to the concluding message from Paul's letter to the Galatians.   Paul has spoken about the connection of living spiritually versus living according to the flesh in chapter 5.  Paul continues with this theme in chapter 6...and instead of sounding combative, he has a much more conciliatory tone, as at the end of chapter 5.  Apparently some have asked the question, "How do we deal those Judaizers (or Gentile Christians, for that matter) who repent of the attitudes and activities of the flesh?"  Paul may be thinking about Jesus' message in the Sermon on the Mount, regarding approaching all matters of discerning judgment with humility and love.  He offers an interesting expression, "you who are spiritual should restore him gently."  But, for those of the Spirit, this must be done with humility...and I believe that he is speaking with regard to the contrast between pride and humility.  If those who are "spiritual" are not careful, they will be tempted to be unspiritual, that is prideful, concerning how they go about their business.  Once again, Paul appeals to love...as in "the law of Christ," and this, as it is in this letter, runs opposed to the Law of Moses.  We must not be prideful or arrogant as it relates to helping others who are in need, or else, we may do more harm than good. 

We must not overvalue ourselves, neither should we undervalue ourselves, in relationship to principle of living the Christian walk and serving others.  We cannot fool the Lord who is able to evaluate matters accurately with regard to our spiritual walk (vv.7-8).  Living according to the flesh will keep us distracted and hinder us from being the servants that God not only wants, but requires for us to be.  God has gifted each of His children in a unique way to serve Him...and all believers need to fulfill their service to Him...and especially to those who belong to the body of Christ.  I believe this is the principle behind Paul's unusual statement in v.6. regarding instructing and instruction -- if we have been blessed, we need to be a blessing.  If we can maintain our spiritual walk as we should...taking time to rest, recuperate as we need...we will not only be a blessing, but we will receive blessings.

In the final eight verses of this letter, Paul apparently takes control of the steering wheel, so to speak.  He writes with his own hand, rather than have his amanuensis (secretary) compose for him, as has been the case throughout the letter.  Paul claims no professional ability as it relates to his writing, and indeed, seems to be poking fun at himself (v.11).  Basically, this section is a recapitulation of everything he has shared up to this point.  He does not want the free believers in the Galatian churches...primarliy Gentiles...to be influenced by those who would claim that circumcision (as well as the rest of the principles of the Law) is essential in order to be acceptable to God.  The key, once again, is not concerning matters that bind us humans...the Law, the flesh...but it is concerning the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, where all of these other matters find their place and are laid to rest.  The Law was not sufficient, but being a "new creation" in Jesus is.  The Galatian believers must come back to investigating and appropriating the spiritual matters that they once believed...and not allow themselves to be held captive by doctrines and other matters that are going to take them away from spirituality, and ultimately, eternity.  And finally, if anyone would be of a mind to question Paul's credibility (as did some "believers" in Corinth) in writing these matters, he reminds them that he bears scars...physical and emotional...on Jesus' behalf.  These marks for Jesus are of a far greater benefit in proving Paul's conviction for truth, perhaps, than anything he could say.  Nonetheless, the two walk hand in hand.  Paul concludes by appealing to the grace of Jesus Christ for their spirits, a wonderful expression of peace and hope.

Once again, nothing is gained for us today in making the same mistakes as a significant portion of the early believers.  Although, I believe that we could concur with the wise sage, Solomon, who shared that "there is nothing new under the sun" in this regard.  We must learn and understand that Laws and regulations are not going to produce spirituality in us, but indeed, they take away from it.  They hinder our ability to walk as free persons in Christ in much the same way as the flesh also hinders the spiritual walk (and Paul has connected the two).  This does not mean that we must not be people of principle...we should be so.  But, we must appeal to the same law that Paul appeals to in this letter...the law of love...the law that Jesus Himself commended during His last few days on earth (John 13:34-35, 15:12, etc.).  Then, in turn, all other principles gain their proper perspective and place in relationship to the whole of the Christian walk.  And as Paul says, early on in the letter, it is this perspective that will make the difference...then and now...as to whether churches grow and prosper or decay and decline. 

I hope this series has been a blessing to you...have a great day.

Blessings, Don

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