Posts Tagged ‘Epistle to the Galatians’

The troubles of this world are cold and relentless. It’s not easy to stay so focused on heaven that we are being bombarded with the problems of earthly life. We’re commanded, of course, to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things (Col. 3:2), but even the most committed believer will testify that earthly trials sometimes obscure the heavenly perspective.

We worry. We grieve. We stumble. We strain under the toil of our daily labors. We feel the guilt of our fallen condition. Meanwhile, we are assaulted with troubles of all kinds. Those are just a few of the many worldly burdens that  keep our thoughts from rising to heaven.

And yet we are commanded repeatedly to “seek the things that are above” (Col. 3:1). We are instructed to “look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” (2 Cor. 4:18). We can’t allow the burdens of this life to divert our hearts from heaven.

How is that possible? When the load weighs us down and the troubles become too much for one person to bear, pie-in-the-sky sentiments can sound very far away.

But that is precisely why the church is so important. It is our duty as believers to help bear each others burdens (Gal. 6:2). When someone staggers, we help steady the load. If he is straining, we help bear the burden. And if he stumbles, we lift him up. Helping fellow believers carry the weight of their worldly troubles is one of the chief practical duties that should be something every Christian WANTS to do.

Of course, that concept is contrary to the thoughts of our culture, with secular society’s tendency to focus on ourselves. Our generation has developed an unhealthy obsession with entertainment; we are daily bombarded with a bunch of trivial diversions; and we tend to interact with one another in sound-bites or through faceless media. We live in crowded cities and over-populated neighborhoods; yet most individuals are more isolated than ever.

And let’s be honest — Most churches nowadays often imitate the culture exactly where we most need to confront and contradict its influence. As churches seek to become bigger, flashier, and more technologically savvy, they usually tend to become more cold and impersonal. Contemporary churches sometimes even seem to encourage the “me first” agenda of self-love rather than the “one another” commands of Scripture. As a result, we don’t bear one another’s burdens like we should.

Paul made this duty a high priority. It was the centerpiece of his sermons to the Galatian churches. The first half (or more) of Galatians is a defense of  faith and a series of arguments against the false teaching that threatened to place those churches in bondage to the Law. In Galatians 5:14 he reminded them: “The whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

How is that love best shown? “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (6:2).

Do you want to fulfill the moral requirements of the Law? Love your neighbor. How do you love him? By bearing his burdens.

It’s interesting that Paul would emphasize this theme in an epistle written to confront people who were falling into legalism. It’s as if he were saying, “You want to observe a law? Let it be the law of Christ. If you have to impose burdens on yourselves, let it be through acts of love toward your neighbor.”

If you will do that faithfully, your own burden won’t seem so heavy. Best of all, you will find it easier to keep your focus heavenward, regardless of the trials you suffer in this life.

suffIf I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased
Galatians 5:11

This is an astounding insight from Paul, regarding the truth of the cross.

The church at Galatia was being hounded by Judaizers, who insisted that traditional, Jewish circumcision was still necessary in order to be saved. Paul, of course, opposed this notion and preached unabashedly salvation by the free grace of God upon all them that believe.

And this is the astounding observation that Paul makes: the offense of the cross is found in the very fact that it offers salvation entirely by grace! The fact that grace is free is what makes the cross so repulsive to so many.

Why are so many people so offended at the claims of Christianity? It is not because Christ requires good works, because almost any religion does that. The reason the cross of Christ is so offensive is that it shows that salvation cannot be earned. It means we must turn to God for help and healing and rescue.

Every other major world religion teaches that, if you are good enough and follow their set of rules, then you will be alright. But the cross of Christ unmistakably shouts to the world, “You cannot save yourself! You cannot be good enough for God!” That is why Jesus had to die for us to be saved.

Does the cross offend your sense of self-worth and self-actualization? Or have you come to realize that it is only by free, unearned and unearnable grace that you can be saved?

sinThere’s not a one of us reading this that doesn’t struggle with some sin in our life that hasn’t become so common that it’s now a habit. Some people will deny this, while others will feel convicted and want to repent and turn over a new leaf. If you’re the one struggling with it, or secretly want to know how to break the sin bondage you’re in, I urge you to read the steps below to free yourself from the habit of sinning, and restore your relationship withe jesus.

Steps in Overcoming addiction/sin
1. First, the individual must come to acknowledge that the addiction exists. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

2. We must recognize that what he is doing is wrong. He may hate other sins but justify this one. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (I John 2:16). “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate” (Proverbs 8:13).

3. We must not blame others. “If my wife was just more affectionate.” “If women were not so seductive.” Adam blamed Eve blamed the serpent. Instead, the one who is addicted must begin to take responsibility to make corrections. Job said, “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1).

4. We must learn the fear of the LORD. Fear of the LORD is a conscious knowledge that God disciplines his children and there will be a consequence for his sin. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil” (Proverbs 16:6).

5. We must learn to run from temptation. “Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away” (Proverbs 4:15). “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” (I Corinthian 6:1 . “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (II Timothy 2:22). Self deception may enter in where one thinks he can play with fire without getting burned. “Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27-28) .

6. We must recognize that “will power” is not the answer. At a weak moment, he “will” give in. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:1 . In contrast, for the Believer, he has access to the will of God and power of God. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). He must yield his will to God’s will and be obedient by the power of God. See: “Training The Flesh”.

7. We must engraft the Word of God concerning sexual purity. “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). To engraft means to memorize and meditate upon it until it becomes a reality in one’s life. Pr 6:23-24 “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman” (Proverbs 6:23-24).

8. We must destroy any pornography in his possession. “Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places” (Numbers 33:52). Remember pornography is a substitute for truth. See: Addictive Disorders.

9. We must break any generational curse that may be associated with the addiction. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Galatians 3:13). See the book, “How To Destroy The Evil Tree”. Furthermore, since evil spirits are most often involved, deliverance is likely to be needed. See: The Open Door.

10. We must understand and recognize that his body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. (For the Believer) “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

11. We must learn to submit himself to God and resist the devil. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). One must understand that it not just what NOT to do, but also what TO do. Furthermore, the authority to stand must come from submission to the authority of God and those under His authority.

12. We must make himself accountable to a spiritual authority (pastor, elder, or church leader). “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrew 13:17). When someone has to face regular questioning about his tendency toward the addiction, it may make him think twice before pursuing it.

THERE IS HOPE! A baby does not begin walking in a week; the baby has progressive stages of growth. At first the baby struggles to lift its head. Next, it struggles to just sit up. With persistence, the baby begins to crawl. Then it will make some attempts to stand (amusing at times). Finally, it can stand by holding something. Soon the child is running around on its own! In the same way – he can take progressive steps to freedom!

Realize you’re not perfect; don’t beat yourself up if you fail. Yet don’t use this as a license to binge. Focus on one day at a time.

changeIf anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! – 2 Corinthians 5:17

When a person comes to faith in Christ there will be some evidence of this faith in their lives. You won’t see perfection in a Christian, but what you will see is something different in that person. You will see some evidence that a person has a relationship with Christ.

Now it’s very important to we understand that we aren’t talking about being saved by works. You aren’t a Christian because you don’t curse or smoke or cut people off in traffic or because you go to church or give money to charity.

Everyone sins and falls short of God’s glory, but through Christ we are forgiven of those sins. A Christian is someone who calls on Christ to save them from their sins. (Rom 3:23-26)

You’ll see these differences more clearly in some Christians than in others – we’re all a work in progress and we all grow in Christ at different rates. But eventually the person who is following Christ will:

1) Love Christ

We love Him because He first loved us. (1 Jhn 4:19)

2) Hate Sin

Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (Rom 12:9)

3) Pray

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)

4) Read and Apply the Teachings of the Bible

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (Jam 1:22)

5) Turn from the Works of the Flesh

The works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like. (Gal 5:19-21)

6) Produce the Fruits of the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Gal 5:22-23)

7) Live by Faith

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Gal 2:20)

 

jesusI remember for years how I went through life more focused on my next high than what I was doing to myself as well as those around me. Now I am in the unenviable position of watching someone whom I have always loved dearly and respected go down the same ugly self-destructing path that I left in 1995. Addiction to anything is a slippery slope, and it will certainly lead to a path of destruction, often so slowly that you never even know you’re there until it’s too late. So what is an addiction?

The term addiction means to be controlled by, enslaved to, or compelled to engage in a particular habit or practice. It’s an urge or craving for something that may sometimes feel uncontrollable. Addiction does not only occur in drug dependencies but is demonstrated when people are mastered by anything from gambling and video games to sports and winning. What does the Bible say about addictions?

“Everything is permissible for me”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”–but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Drinking alcohol is permissible, being an alcoholic is a sin. Puffing smoke may be permissible, but being addicted to cigarettes, marijuana, and the like is a sin. Same goes for television, caffeine, money, celebrities, winning, music, tattoos, sex, types of food, etc.

Additionally, being drunk or high is a sin. Why? Because when one is under the influence of a substance he or she is mastered by that substance. Moreover, impurity, idolatry, and drunkenness can prevent one from going to Heaven without repentance (Galatians 5:19-21)

When we let an addiction master us in essence we make it our god. Why? Because we are essentially worshiping it, submitting ourselves to its will, serving its needs, doing what it says we should. When we do so we break Commandment #1 (Exodus 20:3). You MUST choose who you will serve: God, or your addictions. You can’t serve both (Matthew 6:24).

We don’t want to encourage legalism, but rather a relationship with Christ such that you read the Bible for yourself and let the Holy Spirit within discern what activities you should participate in. For clarity, we are not telling you it is a sin to toast with champagne or to watch your favorite clean tv show. If you find it ok to casually drink then confidently do so knowing you have freedom in Christ (1 Cor. 10:29-31; Colossians 2:16). Yet, also keep in mind we should never give Satan a foothold to lead us into sin either (Ephesians 4:27). So if the champagne toast may lead you to drunkenness don’t drink it. If you start becoming addicted to your favorite show don’t watch it for a while or stop watching it altogether if you need to.

Are you addicted to anything? (Drugs, pornography, chocolate, etc.)? We’ve been there and can give you the steps that will help you get clean and stay clean. If you’re serious about dropping the addiction please read the “How do I overcome temptation and stop falling to the same sins?” answer, make every effort to follow the steps and they will work!

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)