Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Sunday, September 25, 2016
All I need is found in You
Help me to focus on what is true
Consume the self-focus of my heart
And let me serve others for a start
Destroy this loneliness eating me alive
And make me find pleasure and joy because of Your life
I feel so lost--floating out at sea
I feel so alone--confinement solitary
But You are there and You don't lie
So help me to myself to die
And live to You and others too
Let me serve all with a heart that's true
Saturday, September 10, 2016
My most loving Heavenly Father,
Please grant me this day to see others the way You see them.
Help me to see past the dirt so I can see the precious gem.
You, Lord, sent Your Son for the dirty and broken
And on that fateful day the following words were spoken:
"Father forgive them."
"It is finished."
Those lines there mean that I don't even recognize the depths of my sin.
But Your Spirit uses pain and confusion to draw me to Him.
Please help me fight for unity in these days and weeks
And from seeking Your glorious face to never cease.
Cuz Your glory is the only thing that can overcome angst
And turn bitterness and anger from hate to love and grace.
Another set of words from the cross speak truth
And it helps me in times like this cuz they show the proof:
"My God, My God, why have You forsaken me."
"It is finished."
The proof is that whenever I feel alone
Your Son's been there to, even the sun wasn't shown.
He's gone through everything I go through daily
And for that reason I can trust Him completely
So please help me to meditate on truth
And ignore the lies overwhelming this youth
Please send Jesus quickly, Lord, I want to see You
Thank You again that His words are true:
"It is finished."
"It is finished."
Friday, September 9, 2016
There’s a joke about kids in a daycare that helps explain the next section of Galatians. It goes like this: A little boy decides he’s had enough of sitting in the classroom, so he sneaks away from the group and eventually finds his way outside. Once outside, he goes up to the window to his class (the window is up but the screen is down) and, spying a little girl coloring at the table next to the window, says in his child voice, “I’m free.” She looks up from her coloring, turns around, and says, “Oh yeah, well I’m four!” (It probably works better vocally.) The point is that the kid didn’t want to be trapped anymore so he found his way out of that situation, and when he went to tell someone about his newfound freedom, they totally misunderstood and didn’t care. Sin entraps, and it uses the Law to do so, but Paul argues in this passage today that that was all part of God’s plan so that freedom in Christ would be rightly appreciated. Paul wants us to be the little boy in the joke and not the little girl.
Galatians 3:19-29 says, “Why then was the law ⌊given⌋? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come. ⌊The law⌋ was put into effect through angels by means of a mediator. Now a mediator is not for just one person, but God is one. Is the law therefore contrary to God’s promises? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly be by the law. But the Scripture has imprisoned everything under sin’s power, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed. The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ ⌊like a garment⌋. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.”
So this whole time Paul has been arguing that the promise was given before the Law, and the promise was spoken to Abraham’s singular Seed (Jesus), and that the Law is not greater than the promise, and that the Law does not change how the promise is inherited. So by this point, it seems as though Paul has basically proven the following: “the Law is unnecessary and unimportant.” And in basically proving that, his opponents would jump on him and say, “How can you say that? You’re a Jew. You were raised to love the Law of God as the very Word of God.” So, in the remainder of chapter 3, Paul sets out to answer the questions, “Why was the Law given? And what is its function?” In verses 19-24 he answers the questions, and in 25-29 he explains how life is different for Christians on the other side of the Law.
Paul explains the reason for the Law in verses 19-20 by saying, “It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come. ⌊The law⌋ was put into effect through angels by means of a mediator. Now a mediator is not for just one person, but God is one.” This explains the need for the Law. Cole points out, “The NEB, however, takes a stronger approach by paraphrasing ‘to make wrongdoing a legal offence’, which may well be correct.” That is a paraphrase of the words, “because of transgressions.” Sin can be called sin because the Law that God gave to Moses proves that a failure to live up to its perfection is missing the mark that God set up. That word until is extremely important. The Laaw was never meant to be an end in itself. It was to lead up to a point and then stop. Its purpose was to show things to be sin, both to prove guilt and to prevent further infractions. In the Law, God said, “This is the way: walk in it. Don’t touch that, don’t taste that, don’t do that; if you do, you’re sinning against Me.”
Unfortunately for humanity, no one has ever lived up to all of these laws perfectly. Look at the fifth commandment in Exodus 20:12. “Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” This is no one’s natural inclination. Ask any parent if their child has perfectly treated them with the respect they deserve, and their answer, if honest, will be no. We are all guilty of breaking God’s Law; and even though most of the commands in Leviticus 18 are easy to follow, Leviticus 19 is what follows it, and Exodus 20:14 is also convicting. This is why the Law was only given until the Seed to whom the promises were made arrived. He came, and He died 2,000 years ago. We don’t need to subject ourselves to laws: “do not handle, do not taste, do not touch” (Colossians 2:20-23).
Paul then lays something out about just how inferior the Law is to the gospel. The Law was mediated by angels. Paul says, in effect, “God didn’t even give the Law directly to you, like He gave the promise directly to Abraham. He gave it to angels who passed it on to Moses, who passed it on to you.” This follows strict Jewish orthodoxy; Stephen said the same in Acts 7:53, “You received the law under the direction of angels and yet have not kept it.” And then Paul adds the confession from Deuteronomy 6:4, “God is one,” to show that God is not fighting against Himself in this whole law/promise thing. It’s all part of His perfect plan.
Paul explains this in verses 21-24: “Is the law therefore contrary to God’s promises? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly be by the law. But the Scripture has imprisoned everything under sin’s power, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed. The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith.” Since God is one, the Law cannot possibly be opposed to God’s plan regarding faith in Christ, and thus is also not contrary to God’s promises to Abraham. Abraham’s Seed would inherit exactly what God promised Him.
Paul starts by saying, much like Jesus in John 5:39, that the Law cannot give life. The Law, in effect, proves a state of death. He says that if it was able to give life, righteousness would logically come from the Law, but Paul is adamant that righteousness cannot and will not come from attempting to keep the Law (more on this in future posts). So, it looks as though Paul has again hung himself on a nail that is labeled, “the Law is useless.” But it is not to stay that way.
Paul then says in verse 22 that the Scripture has imprisoned everything under sin’s power. Cole is again helpful here when he explains that the phrase translated “everything” is probably better understood as “all people.” And it’s very interesting that Paul here changes from “Law” to “Scripture.” The Scripture, specifically the portion known as the Law, imprisons all people under sin. It says, “You must die for your sin,” and doesn’t present the alternative (faith in Christ) clearly at all. Christ is certainly there, as Paul has shown throughout chapter 3, but it isn’t clear like it is in the New Testament. The Law doesn’t offer life or righteousness, it imprisons in sin. And if we’re not careful, the whole Bible can do this to us (thus it’s important that Paul says, “the Scripture”).
The Bible is not a list of rules; it is not a playbook for life; it is not a list of prohibitions. The Bible is a love letter from the God of the universe, saying, “This is Who I Am. Get to know Me. Draw near to Me. Believe that I am who I claim to be. This is my Son, in whom I take delight. Put your faith in Him and be reconciled to Me. Apart from that, all your good deeds and rule keeping (even out of this Book) are for naught.” We must study the Bible to know Jesus, not to try to become better people. If we study the Bible to become more moral, we make our morality an idol, and, since we’re being imprisoned in sin by the Scripture, we will never really become more moral. Trust the Word, read the Word, and study the Word to get to know the WORD—Jesus Christ!
Paul explains that the promise is given to those who believe. The promise comes to those who say, “I’m done working my way deeper and deeper into imprisonment and death.” It’s what every human does before being confronted and converted by the life-giving Gospel. The law imprisoned us until faith came.
Paul then says in verse 24 that the law serves a very useful, and completely necessary role. It acts as our tutor. To understand what Paul means by this, I will quote Plato, who wrote of a dialogue between a man (the first person narrator) and a boy who lived under a tutor.
“Someone controls you?”
“Yes,” he said, “my tutor here.”
“Is he a slave?”
“Why certainly; he belongs to us,” he said.
“What a strange thing,” I exclaimed; “a free man controlled by a slave! But how does this tutor actually exert his control over you?”
“By taking me to school, I suppose,” he replied.
“And your schoolmasters, can it be that they also control you?”
“I should think they do!”
“Then quite a large number of masters and controllers are deliberately set over you by your father.”
God set the law over us as a tutor in order to train us up and prepare us—even to beat us down at times—for faith. God wanted us to come to faith, and He set up the necessary system in order to lead us there. The Law serves as a slave to discipline us and train us and beat us down. God stands as Father saying, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened. Let me love you like a Father is supposed to!”
Verses 25-26 explain, “But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” If we are in Christ, we have left that master of Law, and traded it for sonship to God. We get in Christ by faith. The law prepares us for that, and then its job is done. Paul wants the Galatians, and us today, to move out from under the law into the full blessing of sonship. Paul has now proved that the Law isn’t worthless; we shouldn’t throw it away. But at the same time, we are no longer subject to it, to be enslaved and imprisoned and killed by it. We are sons of God by faith in Christ and by faith alone. If faith got us there, then faith alone will keep us there. Never give up on faith!
Paul explains how life is different for the believer in verses 25-29. “But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ ⌊like a garment⌋. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.” There are five things that are different about believers now: we aren’t enslaved, we aren’t alienated, we aren’t naked, we aren’t on different levels than other believers, and we aren’t excluded from the promise.
Like a child in Paul’s culture was under a slave until he was old enough to be entrusted with the responsibilities of being a man, so also we, as children of God, have been freed from the Law. We aren’t slaves to it anymore. We must live in this new way daily!
Instead of being the pupil of a potentially abusive slave, we are the beloved children of God. We don’t have to live in fear of the law tearing us down and telling us we’re worthless. Rather, we can hear our Father say, “I love you. The sacrifice of My Son is proof of that. You are no longer condemned. You are beloved. Look to Me!” Let’s remember our status as sons and daughters of the King every single day!
The Law, since it imprisons in sin, strips us down and shows us that all we have to offer is rags and filth. Because of the promise, we have been clothed in Christ. God doesn’t see our filth and rags; He sees the righteousness of His Son. Don’t live condemned anymore. Live in joyful freedom!
The promise—since the law imprisons all as equals—frees all people again as equals. In Christ we are all united. We can’t say, “because she’s a woman, I’m better than her,” or, “because he’s a Greek (non-Jew) I’m better than him,” or, “because his skin is a different color than mine, I’m better than him.” Christ breaks down all barriers, because as sinners in God’s eyes we were all equal, but He loved all of us enough to free us and remake us equal in that improved status. Don’t ever judge another believer without saying to yourself first, “they’re just as good as me—we’ve both been saved by Christ’s perfect sacrifice.”
If we are Christ’s then we will inherit the promises God gave to Abraham. These promises clearly involve a future life on a new earth on which we rule. (Now when I say rule, I don’t mean like the Mormons mean.) We will serve and worship God forever, having inherited the earth (cf. Matthew 5:5). When life looks bleak, remember that you are an heir of that amazing promise! No matter what comes your way, know that God is preparing a place for you!
So in conclusion, the promise is infinitely better than the Law! However, at the same time, the Law still serves a very important purpose. We must never forget that! Before we preach the cross, we must preach people into prison by letting the Law convince them that their sin has them in its grasp, and that THE ONLY WAY for them to escape sin’s grasp is to place their faith in Christ. In Christ alone is where the five promises of newness of life are found. Who will you speak to (or at least pray for and/or about speaking to) this week?
Til next time. As far as these Galatians posts go, it could be a while before the next one. I’m now attending online classes through Southern Seminary and working full time, so keeping up with a detailed, study-intensive blog like these Galatians ones is a bit difficult. I’m planning my next post for sometime in December. Til then...
Soli Deo Gloria
 R. Alan Cole, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries – Galatians, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Academic, 2008), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 149.
 Especially if we compare it to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5.
 R. Alan Cole, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries – Galatians, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Academic, 2008), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 151.
 Plato, “Pl. Ly. 208c,” Greek Texts and Translations, accessed September 9, 2016, http://perseus.uchicago.edu/perseus-cgi/citequery3.pl?dbname=GreekFeb2011&getid=1&query=Pl.%20Ly.%20208c. Interesting to note, is a note next to the word “tutor” in the second line is a footnote explaining, “The παιδαγωγός was a trusted slave who was appointed to attend on a boy out of school hours and to have a general control over his conduct and industry.” The Greek word in that quote is the exact Greek word Paul uses in 3:24.
 John MacArthur, Galatians, 96. “They were strict disciplinarians, scolding and whipping as they felt it necessary.”