Monday, September 14, 2020

Dead or Alive?

In Galatians 2, Paul makes a bold statement about law and grace and life and death.  Paul's concern is simple.  If the law (the Torah and the Talmud) could save anyone, there was no reason for Jesus to die.  His message to the Galatians is ... "if you keep returning to the law, seeking to meet its requirements, you will be condemned by the law."  Paul says, "I died to the law!" (v. 19b).  "So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.  I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless." (v. 20-21)

Three issues here.  First, are you just existing, dead in the law?  Let's all be honest.  If we are living under the law of Moses and the Talmud (legal requirements) of the Jews, we are all guilty and worthy of the justice of death.  I hear people say, "I'm an Old Testament Christian!"  Sadly, there is no such thing, for Jesus said "I have come to fulfill the law (He took our sins upon the cross)."  He said, "I give you a New Covenant by water and the Spirit."  Jesus brings life abundant.  Jesus brings us newness of life.  We are full-Bible Christians who should learn to see the pre-Jesus Bible as preparation for the life, death, resurrection, newness and return of Christ.  Our part of this story is to die to the law, ourselves and our sin, so that we may do what Paul preaches ... "live for God" (v:19).

Second, is Christ alive in you?  Galatians, Chapter 2 is about how Christ lives through us.  Lately I have heard people (I think as an excuse for their nastiness) say things like, "Jesus didn't come so we would be good ... He came to save us."  While, on the surface, this is true, Paul reminds us that we carry in us (in our brokenness) a treasure placed there by Jesus (2 Cor. 4:7).  While Jesus didn't save me because I was good or to become a good person who keeps the law, I rather think Jesus living in me should produce goodness (one of the fruits of the Spirit).  Paul's rant about Peter in Galatians Chapter 2 reminds us that if God lives in us, if Christ dwells in us then we express the life of Christ to the world.  My challenge to those who try to defend nasty attitudes by claiming Jesus didn't "save them to be good," is this ... defend that position when Jesus prayed for unity in His last prayer ... defend that position when Paul (Gal. 5) describes the fruit borne of Christ-filled, Spirit-filled people as goodness, kindness, love, joy, peace, faithfulness, patience and self-control ... defend that position when 1 John 2:7 given us the new commandment to love one another ... defend that position when Jesus said, "I am giving you a new commandment ... to love one another as I have loved you" (John 13:34).  Please do not delude yourself or those you claim to lead by this false and dangerous teaching!

Lastly, realize we (Christians) represent our leader, Jesus.  When I was confronted by 4 thugs, one with a visible gun in his pocket, and he asked me who was the leader of our church, I answered, "I am the preacher but our leader is Jesus."  He considered this and asked me about coming to service.  When I made this same statement to a friend recently, he looked at me like I had 2 heads.  Martin Luther King rightly preached that negativity breeds negativity and darkness breeds more darkness.  We have enough of that stuff going on around us.  1 Thessalonians 5:5 reminds us "You are the children of the light.  We are not of the night but are of the day."  So ... my charge to you ... my prayer to God ... my "telling the truth in love" is this.  If you are alive in Christ, and Christ, as with Paul, lives in you (v:20), then represent ... re-present the Jesus who saved you, who loves you and who wants you to do good in the world because He has chosen you and you have chosen Him.  That's all, my fellow children of light!  Randy

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