Almost there! Less than 24 hours and I will be having some delicious bread! Since Jeff has researched all this and tried it before I am trusting him to know how to break this fast in the least painful way. Me, I’d go for a big juicy steak, but that probably wouldn’t do me much good would it? Haven’t been hungry at all today. Neither has Jeff. Both of us are feeling pretty well.
We hit another verse on law today. It requires me to back down from my freedom argument a bit. I still believe we are truly free, and I believe we can worship God as we choose. I believe that in the Spirit we will do what the Spirit wants, so therefore our worship will be pleasing to God. A good point was brought up. How do we test to know if something is God’s will? Well first off, I do not think we need to worry about that. If we are really living in the Spirit I think we will just know, however there are guidelines in the Bible to help us ascertain God’s will, and due to a specific verse I am forced to reintroduce law. It is not the same law however, it is a new law. The old law has been fulfilled and we are no longer under it. Paul said so many times in Galatians alone. This new law is in Christ, and I will attempt to show not only what it is, but how if we are living in Christ it really does not matter either because we will be doing those things without thinking about it. But first things first, verse 1.
Galatians 6 starts off with a clear command to believers, and also a warning. “Brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently, but watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.(1)” As a Christian I am part of a global family. Families support and help each other. To some(myself included the first time I read it) this verse seems to allow us to be prideful in our own spirituality, like somehow we are more spiritual than another person. The campus chaplain, Gene Shandorf, used an interesting example to illustrate how he, a man who has studied God extensively and is currently employed to build relationships with God, is more spiritual then us. He took a piece of paper and dropped it on the floor. Then he stood on it. After standing on the paper he looked upwards at the ceiling and said, “I am more spiritual than you in about as much as this paper makes me closer to the Sun.” I do not think that Paul here is saying that we need to somehow gauge how spiritual we are compared to others, I think he is saying that we who are of the same spiritual family should help our brothers and sisters when they have fallen. At the same time we are warned to watch ourselves so that we too do not fall. Well how would this happen? Let’s take two recovering alcoholics for example. Both have been sober for a year, when one of them somehow get’s sucked back in. The other person should help him get back out of it, but he is sensitive to the same issue so he must guard himself so that he does not pick up a bottle again too. Another verse that confirms to me that we cannot think ourselves more spiritual than others, “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.(3)”
Paul further goes on to tell us that we should have pride in ourselves. Seems a bit odd don’t you think? In Sunday school we are taught that pride is baaaad, what is wrong with Paul. Listen, “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each should carry his own load.(4,5)” We need to have pride in ourselves because of ourselves, not arrogance because we think we are better than another.
Now let’s get around to this nasty law issue that seems so easily to create conflict. In verse 12 Paul again shows us that the law is moot, but that is not what I am after this time. Point an eyeball or two at verse 2, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Hmm…Didn’t Paul just spend 5 chapters saying the law not longer is in effect? What does he now mean by this? Well…this is a different law, this is the law of Christ. We cannot fulfull the law given previously, only Jesus could. Now in him we are given a new law. So what is this law? What is the intent behind it? The original law was in place to show us how to get to heaven. Obviously we could not fulfill that law and make it into heaven ourselves. When Jesus came and fulfilled the law we clearly see that it all points to him, he is the way into heaven and God’s presence for eternity. This new law is not how we get into heaven, rather it is about relationship. To get to heaven we need to love Jesus and have a relationship with him. He expects more than just a ‘Hi, how’s it going Jesus?’ once a week at church. We are to have a living, breathing relationship with him that shows. The ‘law’ of Christ is really quite simple, love. Many will need more than that. Humans seem to need something, or someone, to tell them how to live, they do not know how to simply exist in relationship with Christ. Luckily Christ has provided us with what he expects in our relationship. This answer is not solely contained within the book of Galatians, so I probably will not hit on everything that Christ tells us but the list provided below should be enough to give you the general idea.
Galatians 5:14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.
Matthew 5:3-10 (I have taken the rewards out and show only the qualities) Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted.
Mathew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Mark 12: 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Matthew 20:26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.
Matthew 16:24-25 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever looses his life for me will find it. (Note that life in this passage could also be translated from Greek as soul)
Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive me their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
If you are really living by the law of Christ it will be evident because you will see these things manifested in your life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)
I do not have all the answers, but this week has taught me a lot about God’s law and our role relative to it. I thank God that I have had this opportunity, and I would like to leave you with one final thought.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.