Galatians Chapter 5

There are certain times when reading that it feels like a ton is being told to you right then and there.  This is one of those cases where I felt like I was copying and pasting everything in chapter five.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” ~ Galatians 5:1 ESV

I trust that Paul is speaking about succumbing to slavery of the world, being within the bondage of what the world calls unto all of us.  Once we were freed through Christ, we should keep our focus on Him and turn from the world of madness.

In a conversation with a loved one, someone who is very much on the far right of politics (I stand mostly middle-left), I asked them about freedom.  Without speaking this particular passage, I heard them say that this was the model God wanted us to live: completely “free”.  But as I read this passage, I can’t help but wonder if the idea of freedom is simply mistaken by us.  We consider freedom as an ability to do whatever we want whenever we want when, as Christians, we know that ultimately we need to be focused on doing whatever God wants whenever God wants.

So… where is freedom within the world?  What does that look like exactly?

“Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law… … For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love… … I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!” ~ Galatians 5:2‭-‬3‭, ‬5‭-‬6‭, ‬12 ESV

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” ~ Galatians 5:13‭-‬15 ESV

As I study this book, I come back to various section in intervals.  I’d like to pick apart a phrase here; “the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”.   

It states 17 times in the Bible to love your neighbor.  It doesn’t say “tolerate” them or even to agree with them.  So really, the question shouldn’t be what we are to do for our neighbors but rather what that means exactly.  What does it mean to “love” someone?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” ~ Galatians 5:22‭-‬23 ESV

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” ~Galatians 5:25 NIV

The Bible Project did a great video on this book and stated the above verse.  Going back and rereading it, I agreed that I needed to include this statement.  The verse prior, 22-23, he mentioned what the Spirit provides, what sort of fruit that we can gain.  In verse 25, he asks us not only to receive it but to cherish it.  Like the seed of a fruit, it will grow in the soils of those who wish to garden it.

*Please see my intro to Galatians for my resources.

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Galatians Chapter 3

Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” ~ Galatians 3:2‭-‬3 ESV

It’s funny how even after I read this, I go out into my day and attempt to “be good”.  The premise is to love God, love Christ, not “be good”.  That is what the law forms us into

… just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
~ Galatians 3:6 ESV  (Genesis 12,15)

I wanted to note this passage because Paul makes a point bring Abraham into focus. Abraham was prior to the law, prior to the ten commandments.  He showed us not only how to be faithful, but also how he stumbled through it as a human being, being flawed and also being “good”.  Ultimately, it was faith that pulled him out and rewarded him.

Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”        ~ Galatians 3:11‭-‬12 ESV

I believe what I understand of this passage is that if you choose to not live by faith, by default you live by the law.

“So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. … There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” ~ Galatians 3:24‭-‬26‭, ‬28 ESV


I’d like to note something about his “list” of types of people.  Prior (Gal 2:10), it is directly pointed out to focus on the poor.  Here, he directs the attention to a whole slew of people and how faith intermingles within all.  Where Jesus states that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, your soul, and all of your mind; he follows this with a secondary of loving our neighbors as ourselves.  

So I ask:  Who are our neighbors?

All Greeks.  All Jews.  All.

 

*Please see my intro to Galatians for my resources.

Galatians Chapter 2

And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)…” Galatians 2:6 ESV

I want to pull the “God shows no partiality” from this verse.  It popped out to me like I needed to see it clearly.  

I can’t help but wonder exactly how this relates to people in general.  How often do I see the argument that God is the ultimate judge and we are not to judge one another?  How often is this said simply to prove a point that whatever that person is doing (or trying to justify) is OK?  The idea that God shows no partiality reflects the unity that mankind has in my opinion.  We strive for this concept that our “points” are correct but in truth it doesn’t matter.  God matters.

“…and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” ~ Galatians 2:9‭-‬10 ESV

 

 I find it interesting that when these men, James, Peter and John, direct Paul and Barnabas one way while they focus on another and then make it a point to remember the poor.

 Not leaders.

 Not the rich.

 Not the tax collector, workers, nor the families.  They don’t stop and ask for them to remember the soldiers or the freedom to carry their weapons. Not to remember oil prices or to build a glorious building.  They don’t ask them to remember anything else in particular but pause to note “the poor”.

 Who are the poor?  I push this question because I believe that where I am today, I am surrounded by various wealth; however there are aspects of being”poor” all through the people.  Financially we are good.  I mean, some have more than others and some have to go without but for the most part we are given what we need.  

 After writing that last sentence, I paused and thought that I should close the document for a bit, perhaps come back to it later.  I stared at my phone thinking about what I should do… so, after a moment, I opened my Bible app and this verse was the verse of the day:

 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord , whose confidence is in him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” ~ Jeremiah 17:7‭-‬8 NIV

 I would be more bold in saying that the “poor” are those without Christ for what cost do they expend in the end?

 I don’t want to stray too far from the idea of those who are physically ”without” various needs.  If I were to seriously consider it, the call for us to focus on it is within Christ’s teaching.  I’m only noting that this particular call to focus on the poor, perhaps the gentiles, those without Christ, without God, are poor in spirit.  These are the people that God placed in front of Paul.


“But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” ~ Galatians 2:14 ESV

There are two things to note within this passage: One’s actions versus their words, and the concept of forcing an ideal or practice upon others.  It’s common for people to attempt to “talk” others into their viewpoint when they believe that what that point is either helps or is truth.  I believe this is the same concept that drives Christians to evangelize to non-believers.  It’s that struggle of speaking about something and living it.  Live as if you are loved by Christ and allow that to show through your day to day.  

It is noted that to be “justified”, we are “declared righteous”.  This means that we are in a right relationship with God, forgiven and given a place in God’s family and this results in transformation by Grace but only by the faith of Jesus.

“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” ~ Galatians 2:21 ESV

I think this is pretty dead on.  Any guilt you carry, any feeling that you hold close where you whisper inside about how this “action” is unforgivable,… divorce,… cheating on a spouse… being untruthful… drinking in excess and saying or doing something that offends another (or climbing behind a wheel)… God knows about the issue and He holds the answers to solve these problems.

Christ.

If we cannot, as Christians, stand and place our faults on the Cross then we are, in a way, stating that God is not great enough to fix anything.

 

 

 

*Please see my intro to Galatians for my resources.

 

Galatians Chapter 1

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” ~ Galatians 1:10 ESV

In my day to day, who am I seeking the approval of?  

I understand that in order to find true peace, that sought out approval should be laid at the feet of God.  This is where my peace will be claimed; however, often I fail and look to my immediate surroundings.  I stubbornly believe that what ever approval I gain, quickly or just outside my own thinking, that I am then justified in my flaw or that there is some merit and this I’m capable of moving forward without realizing that that only gets me falling down later.

When I reflect on this, I consider things like Facebook, Instagram or even the concept of putting up this blog.  What are my reasons for posting that status, that photo or even my thoughts regarding this book?  Is it for a sort of gratification from friends, family and even strangers?

I want to say no; but I know a small part of me desires a positive reaction from others.

The Truth is that in order for me to be totally satisfied by my posting, it needs to be done to honor God and when it stops there, peace shall come.

“And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.”  ~ Galatians 1:14‭-‬17 ESV

How set in our ways we can become…

How we can believe that tradition is greater that understanding sometimes…

Paul was an amazing person.  He is a man who demanded the deaths of those who followed Christ and turned around to a point where he praised the very God he attempted to “attack”.  Not only does Paul’s relationship with Christ model how Grace truly functions, his teaching prove God’s power among the hearts of man.  Love.

He mentioned how he did not “immediately consult with anyone” after his conversion.  I wonder why this is exactly and I plan on researching a bit more into his actions.  It does make me consider how it is taught to pause, to listen, and then act on what we are being tasked.

“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” ~ James 1:21 ESV
I wonder if this was the process of what Paul was working through.

“They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.”  ~ Galatians 1:23‭-‬24 ESV

Think about this.  Think about if someone from ISIS, someone who vehemently sought out his enemies, Christians, to put them down like rodents in an old apartment building.

He persecuted and killed them all because he thought they were blaspheming the name of his God (ironically the source being the same God), and then he has a spiritual conversion like no other.  This killer.  This top ranking prosecutor and Commander is converted and starts talking about Jesus in a way that many of us fail to recognize and he begins to teach, to speak and to actively write lessons to the body of Christ.  

How would we react today?

How many of us would celebrate such a turnaround from this individual and not constantly second guess his motives?  His intention?  His honesty?  How many of us would rejoice?  How many of us would recognize the awesome power that God has bestowed upon us; how He is capable of turning all things to good…

It’s easy to say that “I would”, but the truth is we are in such a state in our society that we are bred to believe nothing.  Fake news.  False truths.  Empty thank-yous and so on.  I honestly can say that the world has been successful in derailing much of what truth is attempting to tell us.  The venom that drips from the mouths of those who misunderstand what Love I personally have found.  How one is automatically swept into the masses of the conflicted, the confused and the, oh so very, broken…  We all have our challenges to work through and to correct.  We all have our differences to figure out and work on so that we can truly be people of Christ, people, who like Christ, loves everyone here around us.  

This includes those we don’t particularly like…

Paul takes a special place in my heart because I feel as if I can relate to him.  No.  I wasn’t out in the world killing Christians but I was actively trying to work them off of their pedestal of Faith which, in a way, is far worse.  I wasn’t killing the body but attempting to damn the spirit.  How I spoke to believers and, now with such sorrow, how I would spout to current non-believers, weakening a Faith that could bud…  it is truly something of my past self I have asked forgiveness for and I know I have received it.  Now I feel God has asked me to share my heart.  

I’m not working out some sort of penance here.  Honestly, it’s something on my heart that I feel God is telling me to complete.  I honestly hope that this helps someone else. This is my goal.

 

*Please see my intro to Galatians for my resources.

Drink

As I watch the waters flow
In a creek through the
Riverbed
I question not if it goes

As I want nor wander
I question not either
The loving hand of God
As He is the water that
Pours over my soul

Thirsty not I shall ever be again
Of a simple sip I am blessed
Its His grace that cleansed our lands
By blood and thorny coiled band

With each sip from the earth
I drink
Never will I be satisfied
It is the Well of Truth that o’er spills
That washes and leads us to
Kingdom Come

As he calls, “I Am”
The words ring louder yet
I have heard and keep listening for
“Welcome home, my son, yet again”
And in that light I shall grin
Yes, home, as my spirit
sheds its skin
Only then will I know
The answers that have
clouded ages of men

It is with these waters I can rise again
Drinking of the Spring
Eternal life!

Of he that calls, “I Am. “
I follow, because I can’t do this alone
And by his word, his truth,
His grace
I know it in my bones
That no matter how dark it gets
There is one light that always shows

Again, by that well he names us
Knowing us in and out
He stated if we only knew
We’d be asking him instead
So now I stand, listening,
May I sip but once, my Lord,
Please
So I may never thirst again?

 

~ originally written: April 6th, 2015 ~ Copyright 2015

The Book of Galatians: My Intro Study

I wanted to start documenting my personal bible study and figured I would start with the Book of Galatians.  It’s a great book to find answers to various answers such as the difference between religion and relationship.  This first post will be my quick notes prior to each chapter.  I’ve been hanging onto this within my GoogleDoc for a little while now and figured I should just post it and have it out there.

Some research notes and facts: The Apostle Paul wrote this book to the Galatians around 57 AD.  It was a province of Rome and was the center of the Celtics Tribes.  

According to biblehub.com, the Celtics People we descendants of the Gauls.  They had sacked Rome in 390 B.C. and invade northern Greece and Asia Minor.

It is believed that this letter to the Galatians is one of the earliest or could even be the earliest letter written to the church.  What we should notice is how the first century church responded to some of the practices of accepting Christ.  How do we shed our “old skins” and truly become new in Christ?  What does this mean?  What does this entail exactly in how we are to grow?

It is considered that Paul wrote this “at his angriest” toward the church due to various practices being implemented that were straying from the Truth.  His passion for this issue results in his personally penning the last chapter “in large letters”. This is proof of his writing.  Paul notes an affliction, or a thorn in his side (2 Corinthians 12:7 NIV), that follows him constantly but neither he nor Luke follow up on what the exact details were of this affliction.  Many speculate that when he was blinded and given his sight back, it wasn’t given back 100%.  Some think he fought off malaria which, afterwards, can cause various issues throughout the rest of your life, migraines, epilepsy or possibly a speech disability.  Regardless of this affliction, there was one truth that Paul kept firm on:  The pure love that Christ had for us.

********

Additional reading and resources utilized:

  • Acts. 13:14; 14:6; 16:6

 

 

Galatians Chapter 4

“In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” ~ Galatians 4:3‭, ‬7 ESV

I like the coloring of this passage.  It reflects so many different ways that I have viewed the world.  How I was a literal child, to young man, to an adult, to a father and, now, watching my own children grow and guiding them along the way.  Spiritually, I make nearly daily comparisons to my four year old and my relationship with God.  How often I bicker or complain or negotiate various situations!  I can say yes to my daughter’s desire but stating that it may be “later” and that isn’t good enough, at least for her desire to be fulfilled “right now”.  

“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.” ~ Galatians 4:8 ESV

Before Christ, I worshipped self pleasure.  I worshipped material things, material goals, material relationships.  It was a “what can they do for me?” Practice instead of what can I do for them?  I’m not perfect in this manner by no means.  I fail constantly but it is with passages like this that remind me where I stand in Truth.

 I see those shirts and signs, “I stand on the right side of history!”, and I ask, “Do I?”

 God speaks.

“You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” ~ Galatians 4:13‭-‬16 ESV

“Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.” ~ Galatians 4:28‭-‬31 ESV

What slavery do we live under?  The concept of slavery in this moment is very different than how we view it today; however it still falls in line with what ownership we are succumbing to.  Is it the world or is it God?

Too often people will argue that being a “slave” to God isn’t desirable but I would ask, “What has the world given you that is better?”

*Please see my intro to Galatians for my resources.