Exasperated, Paul wonders at the Galatians’ desire to place themselves back under the yoke of the Law. He worries over them as they fall victim to Judaizers who wish them circumcised, observant of certain days and specific customs. Paul says “it is always good to be enthusiastic about good;” but he also says he is “suffering labor pains for you until Christ is formed in you.” Paul strongly suggests to the church at Galatia that observing the Law does not and can not make them any more Christ-like!
15 What happened to this sense of being blessed you had? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They are enthusiastic about you, but not for any good. Instead, they want to isolate you so you will be enthusiastic about them. 18 Now it is always good to be enthusiastic about good—and not just when I am with you. 19 My children, I am again suffering labor pains for you until Christ is formed in you. 20 I would like to be with you right now and change my tone of voice, because I don’t know what to do about you. 21 Tell me, those of you who want to be under the law, don’t you hear the law?
Paul then tells them a story. He reminds the Galatians of the children of the free woman, Sarah and the slave woman, Hagar. Both children come from Abraham, but only one is the true heir.
Rid yourself of the yoke of slavery and take up the cloak of freedom in Christ.
I have a few questions:
- Who seeks God?
- For those who seek Him, what is required of us? What makes us acceptable to God?
- When we seek Him, is it miracles and signs we desire?
After Jesus feeds the 5,000 or perhaps it’s the time He feeds the 4,000, those who follow after Him ask similar questions:
28 “What can we do to perform the works of God?” they ask.
29 Jesus replies, “This is the work of God—that you believe in the One He has sent.”
30 “What sign then are You going to do so we may see and believe You?” they ask. “What are You going to perform?
“I assure you: You are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal of approval on Him.” (John 6: 26-27)
Like a baby in the arms of a loving mother, so we – as Christians – rest in our trust of God who loves us. If we fully trust a perfect God, then we are kept in perfect peace, for we are trusting in the God who is perfect. Hence we have a perfect peace.
You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.
Here David presents God the Father as the loving parent who seeks out His child, bows His head downward so that His ear is close by, fully able and willing to listen to His baby’s voice. God even hears and fully comprehends His child’s “inward call.”
Alleluia. I loved the Lord; for the Lord shall hear the voice of my prayer. (Alleluia. I love the Lord; for the Lord hath heard the words of my prayer.) For he bowed down his ear to me; and I shall inwardly call him in my days (and I shall call to him in all my days).
The most straightforward and simple statement of Fanny J. Crosby’s “Blessed Assurance” is Paul’s statement to the church at Rome:
31 What (tis) then (oun) shall we say (legō) in response to (pros) these (houtos) things? If (ei ·ho) God (theos) is for (hyper) us (hēmeis,) who (tis) can be against (kata) us (hēmeis?) 32 He (pheidomai) who (hos) did (pheidomai) not (ou) spare (pheidomai·ho) his (idios) own Son (hyios,) but (alla) delivered (paradidōmi) him (autos) up (paradidōmi) for (hyper) us (hēmeis) all (pas,) how (pōs) will he (charizomai) not (ouchi) also (kai,) along with (syn) him (autos,) graciously give (charizomai) us (hēmeis ·ho) all (pas) things? 33 Who (tis) will bring a charge (enkaleō) against (kata) God’s (theos) elect (eklektos?) It is God (theos) who (ho) justifies (dikaioō).
And if there is any doubt, look at Paul’s delineation of “these things.” The things that he (and we) are responding to are:
1) The glorious freedom of the children of God
2) Our adoption into the family of God as His children
3) The Holy Spirit helping us in our weaknesses and interceding for us, knowing God’s will for us
4) God using all things together for our good, so that we are conformed to the image of our Creator
5) Finally our predestination, calling, justification and ultimate glorification
Therefore Paul says there is now no condemnation.
Paul writes to the church at Philippi, telling them in no uncertain terms, “I’ve got it rough!” Then he says his rough times benefit the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, Paul finds himself torn between two strong desires – the better desire is to depart this life and go to Christ; the lesser is to remain behind; “to stay on in the flesh.” Unfortunately for Paul, his remaining alive “is more necessary for” the sake of the church.
That Paul is more desirous of death is obvious. He writes to the Philippians:
For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if it is to live in the flesh, this is fruitful work for me, and which I will prefer I do not know. But I am hard pressed between the two options, having the desire to depart and to be with Christ, for this is very much better. But to stay on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. And because I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that what you can be proud of may increase in Christ Jesus because of me through my return again to you.
Yet, Paul is obviously not suicidal. Once again, he puts others above himself. He is convinced that it is more necessary for him to remain alive, so he knows he will “continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.” And so, Paul can readily say, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” without any hint of self-pity or drudgery. He does not threaten the church; he only reminds them that he remains alive for their sakes.
In the corporate world, we are encouraged to “blow our own horns.” Look at Linked-In sometime; and marvel at the self-aggrandizement.
On the other hand, God (through the Apostle Paul) says:
But “the one who boasts, let him boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one commending himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
The promises Paul mentions in his letter to the church at Corinth are twofold: that God is our Father and that we are his sons and daughters, fully adopted into His family. Paul then proceeds to tell us that these promises are to cause us to “cleanse ourselves from every defilement of flesh and spirit” in a mighty effort to “perfect” our “holiness.”
As a child fears (respects) his or her father and mother, so we are to fear (respect) our God.
Since (echō) then (oun) we have (echō) these (houtos · ho) promises (epangelia,) dear friends (agapētos,) let us cleanse (katharizō) ourselves (heautou) from (apo) every (pas) defilement (molysmos) of flesh (sarx) and (kai) spirit (pneuma,) perfecting (epiteleō) holiness (hagiōsynē) in (en) the fear (phobos) of God (theos.)
Who owns a possession greatly prized? One in a special case? Most people, I think. You protect it; cherish it; bring it out on special occasions. You cry if it breaks; then work to repair it. This possession is special; it belongs to you.
The Lord looks on us the same way for He purchased us with His own Blood.
For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
The Word of God is clear – all people are created by God in His image. The Word is equally clear that people are created a second time “in Christ Jesus for good works.” ( Hence Jesus’ mention to Nicodemus that he must be born again. ) These good works are ones designed specifically for us as individuals; they are “prepared beforehand, so that we may walk in them.” If even our good works are planned, how is it that we are not planned? Of course we are. What creator doesn’t mold his or her work according to plan? Nevertheless, as an artist renders his or her work, spontaneity surely plays its part. Perhaps God, the ultimate Creator, shows a touch of His own creative spontaneity when He allows His creations to stray off plan. Ever played with your car; ever taken your hands off the wheel briefly to see which way it might head? Ever dropped the reins on a horse and allowed it to go whichever direction it will? Yet, you remain in control of your car or your horse. The steering wheel is right there; so are the reins. God is in control; never fear.
For we are his creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we may walk in them.